Raleigh, N.C. — The story of The Fiction Kitchen, Raleigh's newest 100 percent vegetarian and vegan eatery, has a happy ending even for confirmed carnivores. The Out & About crew invited WRAL-TV's Ken Smith to join us to sample the fare there and we all agreed – the fiction works!
Location: Next to Deep South The Bar. Parking is available on the street and at nearby parking garages.
Ken: The Fiction Kitchen is a vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free culinary gem. The atmosphere is warm, friendly and inviting, perfect for a date night or a group of friends.
When I first spotted the restaurant on 428 S. Dawson St., I was immediately intrigued by the name. Initially, I didn’t know it was a vegetarian restaurant, but I wasn’t disappointed after my first course of warm homemade cornbread with molasses that would remind you of your Grandma’s cornbread. I tried the spring rolls that were perfectly complimented by a robust peanut sauce.
Some of the entrees are named after their meat counterparts, but this is all vegetarian and vegan. I had the “pulled pork with potatoes and seasonal vegetables." My reaction? "There’s no way this is not real pulled pork!” Our lens on Fiction Kitchen
No matter your usual diet, this meal is Hog Heaven, if you’ll pardon the carnivore reference.
For dessert, we tried the chocolate pie that was a perfect end to our meal.
Tara: Going into Fiction Kitchen I’ll admit that I was a little nervous. Going to a restaurant that was 100 percent vegetarian seemed crazy, especially when they still served dishes such as “chicken” and waffles or “pork.”
I decided to go with the Tinga Tacos. The tacos were described as spicy chipotle soy on a corn tortilla with cilantro slaw, savory black beans and seasoned grains. It was delicious! If I could eat at Fiction Kitchen every night I would be able to become a vegetarian. The tacos tasted like they had chicken in them and did not have that chewy stereotype soy sensation.
After having my tacos, I was feeling pretty brave so I tasted some of my colleagues dishes such as the “pork” and “chicken” and it was just as good. You could hardly tell that you were not eating the real thing.
I am excited to go back and bring my meat-eater friends along to see if they can taste a difference.
Tip: Be sure to come early, the restaurant has been packed since it opened and there is not a lot of seating.
Jodi: The appeal of locally sourced ingredients and the knowledge that my dining-out dollar benefits local providers is a draw for me, enough to overcome any hesitation about meatless fare.
I started with the root vegetable chips – no stretch, because I love packaged sweet potato chips. They were crisp and salty, almost bar food. When our server offered to clear the almost-empty bowl, we all snatched at them. If you go just for the chips, you'll be sold on the rest.
After indulging in a delightfully sweet and sneaky berry moonshine concoction from the bar, I was up to the challenge of "chicken" and waffles. Imagine thin-sliced chicken tenders, perfectly seasoned and lightly breaded. The taste was right on, with just a touch of chewy soy texture. And the portion, with side salad, was plentiful.
Kathy: While I enjoy eating a great steak or chicken, I am always willing to try out a great vegetarian item. Like most people, when I think "vegetarian entree," I imagine lots of lettuce and veggies and maybe some tofu.
So, I was excited but definitely a little skeptical about Fiction Kitchen's menu. "Chicken" and waffles? Barbecued "pork?" But the food was pleasantly surprising. We started with the cornbread, which was really good with the black molasses spread. I would have liked the cornbread to be a little sweeter though, but the spread helped balance that.
We then tried the root vegetable chips, which were dusted with rosemary salt, and served with seasonal pesto dip. So good! These were one of my favorite items!
We also tried the wintery spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce. I liked the sauce but was underwhelmed with the rolls. They looked great and with mushrooms, carrots and greens marinated and wrapped in rice paper. I had hope it would be amazing. But the chewy consistency of the rice paper made it hard to even bite it.
For my entree, I decided to be a little adventurous and get the sweet potato sushi rolls served with sashimi tofu. First off, the rolls were great! They were filled with nori, sweet potatoes, black beans and then topped with candied nuts and spicy chutney. I loved the spicy chutney. The perfect combo of sweet and spicy! The tofu really looked like sushi! It was served on the side of the plate. I wasn't too big a fan of this. One of my dining companions thought it looked like a cut up finger. And I guess it did.
I also sampled the other entrees on the table. The "chicken" and waffles were really good! I liked the fake chicken a lot more than I thought I would and the barbecued "pork" tasted so much like pork, we were all in shock! The Tinga Tacos was probably one of the best items I tried. I liked the spicy chipotle soy and cilantro slaw.
For dessert, we enjoyed a vegan chocolate truffle ganache pie with an almond crust and salted caramel sauce. The sauce was my favorite! Salty, sweet and good!
I definitely want to go back and try out some of the other items on the menu. For someone who doesn't always eat vegetarian, it was nice to go to a place where the menu is adventurous and tasty.