Saturday, January 16, 2016

Where We Eat: Market on South

I was minding my own business, surfing through some of those guns and ammo lover chatrooms, when the screen name @wmdprankster asked for a private chat. I decided to go for it, thinking maybe I could get a fire burning on some real hot gun porn. But when I entered the private room @wmdprankster had already left leaving only a video behind. I watched the video, a grainy surveillance tape with the date blurred out. It appeared to be footage of a coffeeshop in Orlando selling a vegan cheesesteak panini. I had to check this out in person, see if this video was legit.

I took a weekend and drove out to Orlando. I stopped by the coffeeshop, called Sleeping Moon Cafe, and walked to the front register. I knocked twice on the wooden counter, cleared my throat and said to the barista, "I heard you guys sell vegan." The lady hemmed and hawed for a few seconds and then responded with a "Not really." She went through the entire menu and only found one thing a vegan could eat. I ordered a wrap, not something she suggested, and asked for it without the cheese. I forked over seven dollars. Once the barista had my money, she motioned for me to lean in and whispered in my ear, "Are you vegan? If so, you might want to check out Market on South. I'm not a vegan or even a vegetarian but I appreciate how good their food is." I thanked her, ate my very mediocre sandwich, and found a hotel room where I could hole up, eat some local jams and contemplate my next move. I had already been fooled once, did I really trust a barista at some coffeeshop? On the other hand, why would she send me to a different business than the one she was working at unless she really believed in it? Eventually, I decided to go for it. That's the long story of how I wound up at Market on South.

Market on South is really the brainchild of three different vendors who were looking for a place to showcase their products. Dixie Dharma provides the southern inspired vegan comfort food, Valhalla Bakery fills the dessert case with vegan sweet treats and Humble Bumble Kombucha brews up the refreshing kombucha combinations that are found on tap.

The menu is limited, only twelve items from top to bottom, but that doesn't make it any easier to decide what to get. Do you go with a Pulled Carolina Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich? Maybe a Georgia Peach Sloppy Joe or a Tempeh Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich? I decided to go with my ol' Southern standby, the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. The Market on South version is topped with garlic kale, chow chow and smoked eggplant remmy. As a side I ordered crispy brussels. J-Fur got the Hail Kale Salad with Smoked Tempeh Bacon. For Z-Bot, we wanted Market on South's Mac and Cheese but they were all sold out. They suggested cheesy potatoes as an alternative so we gave it a go. To wash it all down, Citra Hopped Humble Bumble Kombucha.

       Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

Market on South's Fried Green Tomato Sandwich includes two extremely thick sliced tomatoes served on bread that is also sliced thick. It reminded me a lot of Texas Toast because of how wide it ran. The top of the bread is sprinkled with paprika. While I didn't really taste anything different with the paprika dusting, it made the sandwich look really cool. As far as the taste goes, whoa baby. The tomatoes were nice and crispy and the breading held up nicely to it each bite (nothing worse than losing all the breading after just one bite). The garlicky kale and pickled veggies were a nice touch adding a punchy, slightly sour note to the tangy tomatoes. 

                  Crispy Brussels

Don't be scared away by the extra dollar price tag for the Crispy Brussels. These little bad boys are totally worth it. They are fried and seasoned to perfection and by that I mean that I've never had brussels sprouts that tasted this good before. These definitely aren't your mama's brussels.

                 Cheesy Potatoes

I don't suggest you eat these potatoes expecting them to taste like their non-vegan counterparts, you will be disappointed. That's because they are much more flavorful. While most regular cheesy potatoes do their taste making solely from the dairy, these spuds didn't have the option to fall back on that pattern. Instead the combination of spices and marinades created a nutty, umami packed flavor bomb. I'd love to say that my daughter enjoyed these potatoes but she was so set on Mac and Cheese that she didn't even touch them. Oh well, that meant more umami for me.

             Hail Kale Salad

This salad had both its good and uh, not bad per se, more like just adequate. First, the good. The homemade croutons were extremely flavorful as were the greens. I loved, loved, loved the pickled red onion and watermelon rind which contrasted the greens nicely. The greens themselves were really well done with just a hint of garlic to them. The adequate? That would be the smoked tempeh bacon. I expected something salty and contrasty, that's what I remember about bacon. This version was way too sweet for my liking. I never was a hickory smoked fan.

At this point, after the initial tasting frenzy took place, Z-Bot had a melt down. No mac and cheese meant not only was she not happy but everyone else should follow suit. So J-Fur rushed her out to the car, salad unfinished, and allowed me to finish my meal. I grabbed some sweets to go. While the whole case looked amazing I decided on, after recommendations from the cashier, a Lavender and Vanilla Bean Yolo and a fruit bar. The fruit bar was soft and moist, not overly dry like a lot of vegan fruit bars I've had. I thought the fruit taste was much more muted than I would've liked. I like my fruit bars to taste super fruity.

       Lavender and Vanilla Bean Yolo

The star of the dessert show was definitely the Lavender and Vanilla Bean Yolo. A Yolo is basically two cookies surrounding a cream center. There was definitely a lot that could've gone wrong with this dessert. The filling and cookie could've been too sweet, too dry or too oily (just to name a few). But both of them were oh so right. I could've sworn that the filling in the middle had dairy in it because it didn't seem weirdly textured or flavored in the least. There was a hint of vanilla bean that existed throughout the dessert but it was the lavender that was king. This Yolo had a strong enough to notice, yet subtle enough to not be overkill, lavender taste. If you aren't a fan of lavender, don't think this dessert will mask it. It's all there for the tasting. If you are a fan of lavender, might I suggest you find your way to the Milk District of Orlando and hit up Market on South pronto.

I was very much impressed with my accidental visit to Market on South in Orlando. Its memorable food and completely vegan menu has me counting down the days until I can return for some more. Hey, You Only Live Once, right?

Market On South Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The musical version of Market on South is Austin's Ultraviolet. I say this because the band's sound is a "modern spin on classic shoe gaze sounds of the early 90's" that is created by groaning guitars and ethereal vocals. It marries opposites that support each other in the most beautiful and delicately balanced way. I'd say that about sums up the triumvirate mingling of Valhalla Bakery, Humble Bumble Kombucha and Dixie Dharma.