The Other Side, the Raw Food Trend, Fakin’ Bacon

Another meat-free S/O/L/E Food Tuesday

To eat a raw food diet takes some effort. It might seem counter-intuitive, because there’s no cooking involved. But think about vegan recipes or any recipes you know of, vegetarian, vegan, or “regular”; don’t they generally include heating food to some extent?

Raw food is a trend that has been popularized by celebrities like Donna Karan, Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore. Adherents swear the diet gives them better energy, more vitality, clearer thinking. Those are just some of the claims.

There’s a saying in Japanese: The reverse side also has a reverse side.

I thought of that, as I stepped through the smoking, drinking, inked-up kids outside the Other Side. What was I in for? Had I come before they were open? Seemed to be a mix of patrons, regulars and staffers out there. I wondered: can vegans drink beer? Isn’t yeast a living thing (no, fungus)? I guess cigarettes are not eaten so burning them is not the same as cooking? Who knows what the logic is.

Ah, but this is our first epiphany. The Other Side Cafe is not just about serving vegans or even vegetarians. So anyone is likely to find a happy meal here. Not the evil happy meal, I mean a good meal. Something like 17 sandwiches available, at least seven for omnivores.

But, I had been invited to come sample the menu by the owner of The Other Side and was delighted to enjoy a cool walk across town. In between Back Bay and the Fens, The Other Side is situated across Mass. Ave. from Newbury Street.


Crowd: Serving a mix of locals, students with an occasional guest my age thrown in.

Vibe: The music skews young and loud (Billy Corrigan with your vegan lunch, perhaps?) but the table tent warns you that this is how they and most of their patrons like it.

Fakin’ it  or not

Menu: An observation from a meat-centered perspective: vegetarians often try to “fool” you with a meat substitute and recreate a meat-centered meal, minus the meat. Sham ham, fakin’ bacon, phoney baloney. My view is that this is an error if you’re trying to win over carnivores and omnivores. But that may not be the goal of all vegans or vegetarians to do so, but why not just serve something yummy without calling my attention to the fact that it’s not something, just let it be something.

Happily, the Other Side the menu is geared towards all eaters. (Even gluten-free). You’re out of luck if you’re a vegetarian or vegan with nut allergies, but that’s a story for another day. These are extensive menus for a place that barely has a kitchen! At least eleven menu items at first scan are flagged as vegan or raw. They helpfully explain the reasons behind some vegans eschewing some beers and wines which are clarified with gelatin based products, for example. Even offering a website for more info, see

Since vegans focus on cruelty-free foods

A vegan is someone who doesn’t eat animal products: meat, fish, milk products, eggs, or honey. Many vegans also avoid fur, leather, and wool as these products generally result in the confinement, abuse, or slaughter of animals.

I asked for the most popular items on the vegan and raw menu, since this was going to be a learning lunch. The “BLT” which of course is devoid of one of my favorite foods the “B” comes with “Fakin’ Bacon.” This gets me to my point about converts. No one will ever be fooled by Fakin’ Bacon. It doesn’t mean the sandwich was bad, it was actually quite good.


I began with the raw foodists Chips and Dip. “the chips are slices of beet and carrot; the dip is a blend of macadamia and cashew with garlic, lemon, braggs.” (The Braggs is a soy based sauce that lends umami without the salt of soy. But I believe it’s brewed so it wouldn’t be purely kosher.) The chips were beautiful and tasty. The dip was great, but when I hear chips and dip I’m thinking deep fried potato chips and sour cream based dip.


The reverse side also has a reverse side.

The statement is an acknowledgment of the holistic view of life. There is no light without dark, good without evil. Chips without dip. Okay, I made the last one up. Of course you could have chips without dip, but why?

Here’s the Other Side dip (which is really a spread):

3/4 c. raw Macadamia nuts
1 1/4 c. raw Cashews
1/2 c. filtered water
1 Tbsp. Braggs Liquid Aminos
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove
1/2 Tbsp. Herbes de Provençe
10 Basil leaves, minced
1 scallion, minced

Blend all ingredients except basil and green onion until smooth. Mix in basil and green onion by hand. For best flavor, let it sit for at least an hour. Serve with carrot and beet “chips” or veggie sticks.

When my sandwich arrived with potato chips on the side, I laughed at my own reaction. How bland and wan they looked next to the gorgeous crimson and orange of the beets. And, after eating the vegetables, the potato chips just tasted of salt.

Other items:

Nachos, breakfast scrambles, grilled and pressed sandwiches, savory pies. Desserts are always good on vegetarian and vegan menus. The Other Side is no exception: the chocolate mint cake was very good even without butter in the butter cream.

The 7 @ 7 menu offers a nightly entree for only $7.00 one meat, one vegetarian.

Enjoy a meal from the Other Side and bring your friends: carnivores, omnivores, vegans, raw foodists, everyone can find something to enjoy on the menu. Even Wimpy could find a nice roast beef sandwich here.


Now, about that music…

~ by jacqueline1230 on November 11, 2008.

5 Responses to “The Other Side, the Raw Food Trend, Fakin’ Bacon”

  1. JC – I know I commented on your other Otherside post, but I just went here for a drink last night so was prompted again to say hey.

    The Otherside caters mostly to vegans, who do not have many places to eat in town. The tattooed bikers you saw are likely vegans or vegetarians, not raw foodists. There’s a close tie between the punk movement and the vegan movement (see: straight edge, Minor Threat, Ian McKaye), which is also linked to DIY, which could also be seen as linked to the resurgence of bikers (as in bicycle riders). The Otherside has become a de facto biker headquarters, and the restaurant itself I think has done an admirable job of developing their menu to serve that community. Their drink list in particular is a rare haven for vegan winos.

    Therefore, you as a carnivore are not actually the target audience here. The fake meat is not on the menu to entice you into a lifestyle of veganism. It is there for vegans who miss eating bacon, and for vegetarians who miss the taste of sausage in their omelettes. Their olive branch to carnivores is to offer the real thing on the menu.

    As Taylor Clark wrote in one of my favorite Slate columns of all time, on being a vegetarian: “We’re not *insane*. We *know* meat tastes good; it’s why there’s a freezer case at your supermarket full of woefully inadequate meat substitutes. Believe me, if obtaining bacon didn’t require slaughtering a pig, I’d have a BLT in each hand right now with a bacon layer cake waiting in the fridge for dessert.”

  2. Ryan – thanks for clarifying. I think the comments from the Slate article are interesting. I know many vegetarians would vehemently disagree with them. That’s okay.

    People come to their decisions about food, about music, about friends and lovers with many different criteria. I opt to not be too didactic about it. I wish more people would lighten up and enjoy a meal with a fresh open mind instead of bile and judgment. We’d all be happier if we tried, I’m sure! The Other Side is actually a place where omnivores and vegans could enjoy a meal together and that is comendable. I remember the bad old days when I was ovo-lacto and couldn’t go out to eat with anyone unless I was resigned to side salad and fries!

    (When you talk about the punk movement you’d have to be clear which one you’re describing too, some of us old timers remember a very different time…)

    I do think the Other Side has a pretty good menu in terms of variety and something for everyone. Especially given the size of the nearly non-existent kitchen, they offer a number of dishes across the spectrum. I like a place where I can learn while I eat. Certainly Other Side is one of those places. I’m looking forward to eating there again someday!

  3. JC – no one wishes that veggies would lighten up more than I do. Judgmental veggies make my life more difficult because everyone expects that I’m going to be uptight about it. My reasons for being one are my own; everyone has the right to their own relationship (or lack thereof) with food, although I do always work towards encouraging people to consider the environment more in their food choices, since that affects us all.

    Re: punk. I was referring specifically to the DIY/straightedge movement championed by Minor Threat. I’d bet Sid Vicious and the Ramones were probably down with pizza and fried chicken ;)

  4. I’m neither vegan nor vegetarian (though I’ve done both in the past) but I find the raw food movement fascinating. This looks like an interesting place to try.

  5. Do go and enjoy it. They have a good variety of items and you can find plenty of good raw food items.

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