First Bite, Vegetarian Edition: Sloco

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Editor's note: We've written a bit about Sloco, the new sandwich shop from Tayst chef Jeremy Barlow that offers creative sandwiches with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Scene intern Jo-Jo Jackson visited to give us the vegetarian's eye view of the menu.

Nestled in with some of the newer additions — Burger Up, Las Paletas, etc. — to the 12South neighborhood, Sloco prides itself on local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients, hence its slogan: “Local. Organic. Quick.” Being a vegetarian, I wasn't too interested at first. But when I got a look at the menu, which boasts three distinctly different vegan sandwiches, I was there next day with my fiancé, who’s also a vegetarian, to check it out.

The three vegan options are the shaved seitan, the slow-roasted veggie and the vegan meatball sub. Sloco is open only for lunch — 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday — so we walked in around 1 p.m. to a smiling staff busy making sandwiches.

The first thing that intrigued me were the three or four small flats of assorted sprouts growing on top of the lacquered wooden counter above the viewable sandwich prep areas. Turns out these sprouts are “micro herbs” from a local farm. Tender sprouts of herbs such as basil, cilantro and sorrel were bursting forth in rich shades of green and deep red. Yum.

We ordered one of each of the vegan options, and about five minutes later three hot sandwiches were ready for the eating. In addition to the ingredients in the sandwiches, all of them were also finished off with salt, pepper, smoked vinegar and olive oil.

There’s a modest offering of bench seating in the sandwichery, but, on such a sunny autumn day, we opted to sit outside on the brick railing like most everyone else was.

The star of the show was the slow-roasted veggie sandwich. The vegetables were a seasonal medley of marinated chunks of turnip, butternut squash, kohlrabi, broccoli and onion, and micro herbs served betwixt two hearty slices of multigrain bread dressed with whole grain mustard and tofu spread (aka vegan mayo).

The blend of fall root veggies was a satisfying burst of earthy and sweet — definitely brought Thanksgiving to mind. The multigrain bread (baked in house) had a lightly chewy texture that avoided the veggies from mashing up or falling out of the sandwich, and the vegan mayo and whole-grain mustard (also made in house) provided a zesty deli flavor.

My second-favorite sandwich was a chewy sub roll filled with finely shaved house-made seitan, crunchy pan-fried chick peas, spaghetti squash, a sprinkling of micro herbs and finished with a mildly bitter sesame seed dressing that interacted well with the smoked vinegar. We were both impressed with the sandwich’s hearty reuben-like flavor and full mouthfeel.

The roll was chewy but not too dense, and the combination of ingredients made for a thoroughly pleasing vegan sandwich. My only minor quibble was the amount of olive oil made it a little greasy, but it would be easy enough to ask for less oil next time.

Next up was the vegan meatball sub. This sandwich was served up on a the same chewy sub roll as the shaved seitan, and was filled with quinoa “meat” balls, tomato marinara and vegan Daiya mozzarella. The quinoa balls held up nicely to the chewy bread, and the Daiya mozzarella had a good texture, but it wasn't as hot and fully melted in the center as I would have liked. I'll definitely try it again, though, because it has potential.

Overall, Sloco is a vegan-friendly lunch spot with a small but mostly satisfying and creative selection of meat-free sandwiches. The portions aren't huge, but what Sloco lacked in gut-busting quantity was made up in hunger-satisfying quality. Not to mention, the prices are fairly reasonable for the quality of ingredients used: the range was $6.50 to $7.50.

In addition, diners can order ahead on Sloco’s well-designed website, slocolocal.com, so there’s added convenience for grab-and-go lunch.

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