The Club – Real Food Daily, Santa Monica, CA

real food clubWe’ve featured a vegan club sandwich here at On Sandwiches before, more than once, but this is a different non-animal. Where those were tofu and tempeh, respectively, this one is seitan. Joining the replacement protein are lettuce, tomato, avocado, and tempeh bacon.

There’s a bit of a hitch in being a non-vegan reviewing vegan food, namely that I both know what the actual sandwich tastes like and don’t mind eating it. That leaves a sandwich like the above struggling to get over the “good for what it is,” hump, held down by the soft bigotry of low expectations. Tempeh bacon is a good example. It’s tasty enough, and miles above soy bacon, but it hardly comes without shouting distance of the real thing. (If turkey bacon is ordinary bacon photocopied on to very heavy cardstock, soy bacon is a photo of turkey bacon screen printed onto a paper bag.)

By its own merits, this was a good sandwich. The construction was tidy (no surplus of veganaise), the flavors meshed well and overall it was quite tasty. I’m sure any of my vegan associates would be delighted with this sandwich, but for me it suffers from the same problem that plagued the Mendocino Farms not-so-fried chicken sandwich: it can’t escape being a reminder of a sandwich I’m not eating. I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat this  sandwich, far from it, just don’t eat it because you’re craving a club.