Tempeh Club – Royal Tavern, East Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA

Tempeh Club, Royal Tavern, Philadelphia PA

I’ve been to the Royal Tavern several times, each time very late at night. The eatery remains open until the wee hours of the morning, and as my sojourns in Philadelphia are filled with deeply-scheduled and often raucous adventures, late night vegan dining is a necessity. The Tavern, located on a cross-section of barely parkable inner city streets, boasts a wide selection of cakes and desserts, but after my attendance at a downtown sporting exhibition, I found myself figuratively dying for a sandwich.

The Royal Tavern’s recommendation, clearly marked as vegan with a double asterisk, was the Tempeh Club. A different animal than Spiral Diner’s epic The Mitch, Royal Tavern’s club piled grilled tempeh high with vegan bacon, keeping accoutrements with lettuce and tomato. The sandwich requires a great amount of trust — the buttery nature of the bread may be thanks to Earth Balance or some sort of butter substitute, although it is not specified. The dressing, basil aioli, also rose suspicions. I ended up eating my sandwich dry, and while that seems a less than ideal situation, I found myself enjoying the textures, soaked slightly from the piled-high fries paired in the takeaway box.

The sandwich is not as tasty as The Mitch, but seemed more filling. Ability to fill is something a vegan sometimes forgets when building a sandwich. The tempeh was copious — the lettuce and tomato topped high enough to make a statement. All in all I found it a beautifully constructed sandwich, and were I to find myself in the Tavern with the sun up, lead by a knowledgeable food server, it might become a favorite.

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8 thoughts on “Tempeh Club – Royal Tavern, East Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA

  1. So this sandwich was clearly marked, and I know that you reviewed previously from vegan-themed restaurants. If you’re ordering from a general fare restaurant, how thorough do you get with the waitstaff to ensure that your meal is vegan (bread eggless, cooked butterless, etc)? Do you find your waiters to be fairly knowledgeable about what is and is not vegan on their menu? Have you found any difference in the level of service (knowledge of product/level of accomodation re: your dietary needs) between privately owned establishments like this one and chain establishments?

    • Research is important. I almost always find out what is on a restaurant’s menu before patronizing them. Items clearly marked as vegan are an issue of trust. Obviously the kitchen can prepare the dish using whatever means they wish, and I might be none the wiser — however, I find I can’t go through life with that sort of skepticism. My ethical veganism relies on my promise to not knowingly eat an animal product. Obviously if something is non-vegan in my vegan dish, the effort has been made, and I won’t punish myself for it.

      General restaurant food is much more difficult. Many times you can find out what is or isn’t vegan through information gathered online, such as from other vegans who have inquired with the company and received feedback. Food service is a mixed bag wherever you go. As someone who worked in the food service industry for several years at varying levels (I was both a trainer at Olive Garden and a server at a family-run Lebanese restaurant), I hope for a knowledgeable food server, and if I find my server dangerously unsatisfactory, I either request another or talk to a manager.

      It’s mostly a matter of being informed and trusting yourself to make the right decision. Mistakes happen, and it’s not so bad, as long as your heart is in the right place.

    • It tastes great, too. It’s all of the junky, brick-stomached goodness of deli food without the heart-stopping repercussions.

  2. The service here was really quick and blunt. They have you filing for the exit in no time!

    • While the service has always been relatively slow, possibly thanks to the nonchalant type of person a bar tends to hire as a foodserver, the latest experience I shared with you was the first time I’d received notably bad service at the Royal Tavern. It was unsatisfactory, but not indicative of a trend.

  3. Hi, I own Royal Tavern. Everything we mark as vegan is definitely vegan. Our chef was vegan for 12 years. I have been vegan off and on for years and I have been dairy-free for 15 years.

    If you have a minute, please email me about our service issues. I would like to address them with the staff immediately.

    Thanks, Stephen Simons

  4. Pingback: The Club – Real Food Daily, Santa Monica, CA | On Sandwiches

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