BOSTON TO BROOKLYN: FOODSWINGS

New England winter–when the mercury drops, the wind picks up, and the hours of daylight dwindle to an infantile amount. It’s easy to throw your hands up in surrender, call it a day and huddle indoors, with nothing but the same television shows and facebook updates to keep your entire cerebrum from slipping into a state of white noise.

That’s one way to go. Or, you can give yourself the cabin fever vaccine: self-perscribed adventures across state lines, with new experiences to combat the cobwebs. When my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to go to P.S. Elliot’s (one of her favorite bands) last shows in Brooklyn, I conceded without hesitation.

We took the Fung Wah to Manhattan. We courageously navigated the New York subway system–a series of colored and lettered lines that intricately snake, merge and diverge, twist and spawn their way across the five boroughs in such a way that it makes navigating the “T” look like child’s play.

Our gracious host lived in Green Point (a neighborhood of Brooklyn for all you NYC novices), so we stopped at his apartment for a Brooklyn Lager and directions, and then were off again.

A short ride on the B62 bus brought us to our destination, Death By Audio. Death By Audio reeked of DIY aesthetics, with its unofficial looking staff, skillfully spray painted walls, circa 1980’s video games, and bar that consisted of a table and a mini-fridge packed with Pabst Blue Ribbon and Brooklyn Lager. Smoking was allowed; my respiratory system was mighty vexed but my indulgence for nicotine was amply satisfied (not proud of it).

P.S. Elliot, a contagiously catchy female-fronted pop punk band, played their last show with panache, skill and fervor, and every thick-rimmed, spiffy-dressed hipster in the packed room, bobbed and bounced to the songs they might never hear live again.

Before Veggie Galaxy was the new kid in town, vegan food in Boston was mostly limited to pizza, sandwiches and Asian-style cuisine. For a long time, I heard of the fabled Foodswings, a restaurant that markets itself as a “Vegan Fast Food Joint,” and I always pledged to visit. My time had come.

Foodswings is one of many vegan restaurants in Brooklyn. It looks inconspicuous on Grand Street, with nothing but a black awning and chalkboard A-frame on the sidewalk to distinguish it. Inside is simple, black–black floors, black tables, black chairs, black counter and black wall behind the counter where the menu is written in fluorescent chalk. The restaurant’s soundsystem played New York style hardcore, rife with breakdowns and down tuned guitars, as the tattoo-clad cooks in the kitchen labored in back.

Some vegan restaurants shy away from labeling themselves as vegan or vegetarian, for fear of driving away the common carni/omnivore. Foodswings pulls no punches when it comes to their message. An endearing aspect of their setting was on their walls, pictures of revered men throughout time that each practiced a cruelty-free diet. With these pictures was a quote relating that message in their own words. Above our table hung a picture of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” and below it were the words:

“I have from an early age abjured the use of meat and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”

I placed my order with the server/cashier, and before long, my meal arrived. I got the Metal Fries, Cheese, Buffalo Sauce and Bleu Cheese Dressing and a Chick’n Cordon Bleu Sandwich, Breaded & Fried Mock Cutlet, Soy Ham & Daiya Mozzarella Cheese w/Lettuce, Tomato, Onion & Foodswings Dijonaise on a Roll.

Foodswings’ menu is staggeringly broad, it includes salads drumsticks, hot/cold sandwiches, burgers and hotdogs, a slue of fries (cheese fries, chipotle cheese fries, “Disco Fries,” “Pizza Fries,” “Punk Fries,” “Metal Fries,” “Surf Fries,” chili cheese fries) and other sides, as well as a section labeled “Good Random Shite!” which has nachos, personal pizzas, chili with seitan and potato skins that are labeled on the menu, “4skins,” an allusion to the almighty English Oi band.

Foodswings has a score of milkshakes, each one more tempting than the next, bearing names like “The Tank,” “Jailbait,” “My Little Pony,” and “Trainwreck”. My girlfriend ordered the “Vegan Hurricane” and it came with mint ice cream and cookies. It tasted like a liquified version of the thin mint cookies that bolster a majority of the girl scouts’ sales.

Foodswings was worth the anticipation and lived up to its far-reaching reputation. If you happen to make it to Brooklyn, pay a visit, and do not be afraid to gorge on everything an omnivore claims you miss out on.

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