BY CHLOE: Vegan to the Extreme

By Joseph Winters ’20
March 8th was a sunny day in the Cambridge area. Winds had diminished to just a billowing, and it had warmed up significantly since the frigid weekend. The day before, I had taken not one, not two, but three midterms, back-to-back-to-back.
I felt like vegging out, in the best way possible: with actual veggies.
Luckily for me, a fast-casual New York chain of vegan restaurants called By CHLOE. had just opened on February 23 in the Boston Seaport. A quick Maps search revealed it was a little over four miles away by foot: the perfect distance for a morning jog. I checked out what all the hype was about during lunch that day.
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In the diverse world of vegan cuisine, there seem to be two prominent ideologies: one that categorically rejects faux meats and dairy-free “cheeze” products, and one that wholeheartedly adopts them. By CHLOE. is definitely the former, I discovered after examining their extensive menu, boasting lots of “traditional” fast food favorites done without any animal products. They have Mac N’ Cheese, for example, a Classic Burger, or Kale Caesar Salad. The mac n’ cheese has a sweet potato cashew sauce and shiitake bacon, the caesar salad is flavored with almond parmesan, and the burger features a tempeh-lentil-chia-walnut patty. In the to-go display case, they have things like vegan Southwestern Quinoa, Raw Vanilla Bean Chia Pudding, and Matcha Kelp Noodles with cashew cream sauce.
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The restaurant’s atmosphere is about as hip as its menu. When I walked in, two friends were lounging around on wiry hanging chairs, and other people dug into salads while sitting around a communal-style table in the middle of the dining area. And since it was lunchtime when I arrived, there was already a substantial line forming behind the pick-up counter. Thankfully, this gave me some time to deliberate over the menu.
Based on an enthusiastic recommendation from the cashier, I ordered the Quinoa Taco bowl (“It’s life-changing,” she had insisted) with a side of Mac N’ Cheese. My food was ready within a few minutes, and I loaded up a couple of dip containers with Beetroot Ketchup and aioli.
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“Life-changing” may be an overstatement, but the bowl really was delicious. It was basically a bunch of lettuce with a heaping ball of limey quinoa on top of it, surrounded by little mounds of avocado, tortilla strips, tomatoes, and “chorizo” made from a wheat-based meat alternative called seitan, and then slathered with a mysterious “crèma”. At $12, it was a little pricey, but the serving size was really generous. I left full and very happy. The Mac N’ Cheese was also delicious, although I’ll admit not quite like the real thing. It lacked something—creaminess, maybe?
By CHLOE. is opening a Fenway location sometime soon, and I predict I’ll be a frequent visitor. The cashier who served me told me, talking about the Quinoa Taco Salad, “It’s like, how can this be vegan?!” I think that’s a good way to describe by CHLOE.: it tries to recreate the fast-food experience in a healthier way. With places like b.Good and Clover gaining popularity in recent years, this seems to be a popular trend. It’s about balancing convenience with health. And I am a big fan of the way by CHLOE. tries to accomplish this.

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