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Cheat Eats: At Veggie Planet, you get what you pay for

This weekend I went on an adventure in search of a place to get a yummy meal for cheap. I consulted my good friend Yelp, and I decided to give a place called Veggie Planet in Harvard Square a try.

I was slightly skeptical when I first heard the name of the place—Veggie Planet struck me as sort of tacky and gimmicky—but a look at the menu convinced me to give it a chance; the food sounded pretty good, and the prices were very reasonable (nothing on the menu is over $12). Perhaps I should have trusted my instincts…

If Veggie Planet were an actual planet, it would be smaller than Pluto (the planet that’s so small that it’s no longer considered a planet). The place is tiny; there were four, maybe five tables for two, all very small and close together. This could have been overlooked if the rest of the experience had been great; small, “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants can be cozy if done right. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say that Veggie Planet was done quite right.

The seats were plastic stools, which were backless so there was no place to put our coats. I didn’t know whether to keep mine on my lap or sit on it. Other than that, the atmosphere was kind of nice. Veggie Planet shares its space with a club/music school called Club Passim in the next room (which is perhaps why the restaurant has to be so small). There was a performance going on that night, so at least we had some live music streaming in every time the door opened.

The menu is interesting, which was why it had appealed to me. It gives several choices of entrée, which you can put on pizza dough, coconut rice, or brown rice. A small order of one of these entrées ranges from $7.25 to $7.75, large from $11.50 to $11.95, and the portions are generous. My boyfriend ordered the “Safe & Sound” (fresh marinated tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, asiago cheese, and spinach topped with basil and fried garlic) on coconut rice, and I ordered “Henry’s Lunch” (roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, rosemary & sage, goat cheese, and asiago cheese) on pizza dough.

Unfortunately, our waitress brought out my boyfriend’s order on pizza dough instead of the coconut rice (which we were both eager to try), so we had to wait a little longer for her to come back with the right order. While we waited, we finished up our appetizer of garlic sticks ($4.75), which were tasty but not the best I’ve had. The waitress ended up taking them off our check because of the mix up with the entrée, which was appreciated.

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The “Safe & Sound” over coconut rice was okay, but the flavors were a little bland, and we weren’t sure that they went so well with coconut. My pizza (“Henry’s Lunch”), however, was delicious. The butternut squash was extremely tasty—roasted and very flavorful—and the caramelized onions, goat cheese, and herbs with the squash was a great combination. The pizza crust was thin and crispy, which I like. They could have gone a little lighter on the toppings overall, but it was still very good.

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There were a few other small things about our experience that were sub par. For example, my boyfriend’s glass (or, rather, his plastic cup) wasn’t fully clean. Also, at one point our waitress took our cups away from us and into a closet to refill them, without saying anything, which struck me as kind of weird. Neither of these things was a big deal, but they negatively contributed to the overall experience.

So what can I say about Veggie Planet? I think if you’re a vegan or vegetarian looking to get a quick bite without paying too much, Veggie Planet isn’t a bad option. I would recommend opting for a pizza rather than an entrée over rice, and I’d order it small, because it’s a great price and should sufficiently fill you up. I probably won’t return to Veggie Planet, and it wouldn’t be the first place I’d recommend, but for a cheap dinner, it wasn’t a complete strikeout.

-Sara Pantel

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