Veggie Planet sits on Palmer Street, or below it rather, in a basement space in Harvard Square. This one of a kind joint offers vegan/vegetarian dishes like the “Peanut Curry,” described on the menu as “coconut rice (even on the pizza dough), broccoli and Thai-peanut curry sauce topped with fried tofu croutons and peanuts” as well as the “Safe & Sound,” “Fresh marinated tomatoes, sliced mozzarella and asiago cheese (add spinach at no charge) topped with basil and fried garlic.” Each unique entree can be served on pizza dough, brown rice or coconut rice. If your desired meal includes any dairy product, Veggie Planet goes above and beyond to accommodate its patrons with vegan substitutions, such as their homemade tofu-basil mash or Teese soy cheese. Their service is swift and their staff is amiable, and almost as good as their food (which says a lot).
Earlier this year I heard rumors that the people who brought us Veggie Planet planned on bringing a diner of the same ilk, to Central Square. As someone who is an avid fan of Veggie Planet and loves eating out (no jokes)–a passion I’ve developed due to culinary ineptness and a busy schedule–I was giddy with excitement.
Somethings are too good to be true, and I chose to ignore the hype to avoid disappointment. But one warm night as I strolled down Mass Ave. towards the Charles River with my girlfriend, I glanced to my right and there it was, like a vegan beacon of light…well sort of. It was more like a series of windows with a checkerboard pattern and a logo that looked vaguely familiar, it read, “Veggie Galaxy” and had Veggie Planet’s signature tomato-planet graphic. My gymnastic skills are as sub-par as my culinary skills so I didn’t do a cartwheel, but the urge to do so was there. I emailed Adam Penn, Veggie Planet’s owner, to get the scoop, he was gracious enough to answer my questions as well as direct me to Veggie Galaxy’s blog, which chronicles the diner’s growth.
According to Penn, Veggie Galaxy will be true to the standard diner setting, with stools, counter and booths. Their food will have the same diner themes, but just as Veggie Planet does with pizza, Galaxy will put their own inspired spin on traditional cuisine, “The food will be based on classic diner food, though higher quality and all vegetarian and vegan. We will not be aiming to imitate diner food exactly, but rather to be inspired by it and provide our own unique, fantastically delicious versions of diner classics,” Penn says. Veggie Galaxy will also have a vegan bakery as well as a slue of beverages that include soft drinks, juices and vegan frappes.
Penn has always had an affinity for diners, and the idea for Veggie Galaxy has been in the works for several years. He has tried to lockdown Galaxy’s current venue for a couple years but was unable to in the past due to “logistical reasons”. After Penn gave up hope for obtaining the space he received a call asking if he was still interested, and he seized the opportunity. Besides the space, Penn sees Central as an ideal location due to its fitting demographic, “Central Square seems perfect to me for what a diner is supposed to be about – a broad range of people from all walks of life coming together for good food and good company.”
Veggie Galaxy and Veggie Planet are establishments that are inspired by ethics, both in their choice to serve local food and have vegan and vegetarian options, “I definitely believe in all the reasons for serving vegan/vegetarian/local, and am vegetarian myself. And yes, we will use local when possible,” Penn says. Their broader aim though is to create a fun and welcome environment and not to alienate anyone, no matter what their dietary choice may be, “Veggie Galaxy is not meant to be hardcore or preachy in any respect. We want everyone to feel comfortable and happy when they come to eat here, no matter their own beliefs.”
Galaxy’s anticipated opening date is late August, which for me cannot come soon enough. Over the years Boston has experienced an exponential growth of new and innovative veg restaurants, and this new addition to Central Square is no exception. If Penn and his cohorts can match the level of taste, setting and service of their first endeavor, then Galaxy will be much worth the wait.
Photo Cred: veggiegalaxy.net