I had to think long and hard before writing this, in order to fairly process this experience. My initial reaction was to rate it one star, but that's so harsh I figured I'd let this settle in my mind first.
The "red flag" that got me upon entering: IT WAS EMPTY AT LUCHTIME ON A FRIDAY.
First of all, I'm shocked by the number of positive reviews. Why? It's not that it's TERRIBLE, because it's not. It's just NOT GOOD. In the world of restaurants, not good might as well be "terrible".
Here are the good points:
- It's cheap
- "Goldilocks" portion sizes
- If you live in Concord and want a Vegan option, there it is
- It's clean, and has a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere
Here are the bad/"meh" points:
Service was very slow. By this I mean that there were two other people at one other table when we arrived at 12:30PM for lunch on a Friday, and it took ten minutes or so before the (exceedingly nice, BTW) gentleman took our order. Preparation time wasn't excessive after that, but we did have to ask for plates/silverware twice, and the other individual who was waiting tables seemed put out by our request.
On to the food: The watermelon gazpacho was "OK". Not stellar, not in any way memorable, but "OK". Lots of reviews have stated they loved this dish, but I just don't know why - except, perhaps, it was the "best" thing in an entire menu of bland, boring, nearly flavorless food. Not revolting, mind you. Just NOT GOOD.
Vegan food has so much potential to highlight fresh, seasonal offerings and bold flavors and seasonings. But in this case, it didn't. The dishes were well-presented and looked nice, but were completely unseasoned. I don't mean "it needed a little salt and pepper". I mean FLAT. Corn cakes were pasty, slightly sweet corn flavor and that's it. Salsa/Pico de Gallo was just... Well, I tasted some very uninteresting tomatoes in there. Burger patty was, again, pasty and lacked any semblance of an attempt to make it taste like anything.
I'll single out two items for particular scrutiny:
1) "Hummous". Full disclosure: I'm Lebanese-American, the child of a first-generation immigrant who was a professional chef. I cook from this cuisine all the time, and most of family are highly regarded in their ability to produce excellent food. I'm ABSOLUTELY going to be critical of someone's Hummous (and, as it turns out, the next item as well). It was a mash-up of various legumes. Consistancy was dead wrong, flavors were virtually non-existant and the ones that were there were wrong. Here's a clue: Hummous has sesame tahini, lemon, salt, and garlic. Sometimes it adds olive oil, cumin, maybe cayenne, top it with parseley or chopped red onion perhaps. Whatever that was, it wasn't hummous, and it wasn't good. I'm all for artistic license with naming foods, but when it's that far away... Just call it something else. Also, there was a good sized scopp of it, but only a very few tiny pieces of cudites to eat it with.
2) Tabbouleh. Again, I'm all for artistic license here, and the fact that it was NOT parseley and bulgar wheat could be excused, if the rest made an attempt to be like this classic dish in some way. It didn't. It was just a bunch of various grains, virtually undressed, and tasting like... a plate of various grains. Even a traditional, classic tabbouleh dressing like lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper would have made this much better.
Some of the oddities here are certainly due to the fact that this was all gluten-free in addition to being vegan. I suppose if you have celiac disease, this place might still be a viable option for you for that reason, but I still think you could do better.
In closing, unless you have one of the two possible reasons to go here, just skip it. I hate to say that, too, because honestly, despite all of the shortcomings, the host seems like a great guy, and I really like the concept of this place - but it falls short of the mark in every regard.