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Lunch, Anyone? By CHLOE

Fenway eatery serves up plant-based vegan fare

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When word came that the popular (and expanding) New York–based restaurant chain by CHLOE, known for its fully vegan, plant-based menu, was coming to Boston, there was a buzz. So when the first one opened in the Seaport District last March and one in the Fenway in June, expectations were high.

We stopped by the Fenway eatery on Van Ness Street recently to see if the hype was justified, and whether it could hold its own among the nearby nonvegan competition, like Saloniki Greek and Wahlburgers. We arrived a few minutes before the lunch rush, a good thing since the line soon extended well past the cashier as people waited to get their hands on some vegan eats.

At 3,000 square feet, the Fenway by CHLOE is the chain’s largest, sitting about 75 (there’s also a small sidewalk patio). And like the others, it has a modern aesthetic: lots of glass and gleaming surfaces punctuated by color (like striped banquettes and textured prints on the wall). The trademark swing chairs are upholstered in red and white, a nod to its most prominent neighbor, the Red Sox.

This was our first visit to a vegan restaurant, so we didn’t know quite what to expect. The meatballs in the pesto meatball sub are made with Portobello mushrooms and veggies, the burgers—tempe, lentil, chia, and walnut patties—come on a potato bun, with a beet ketchup and special sauce. All items are prepared from scratch and are certified kosher as well.

The Guac burger, mac ’n’ cheese, and Oh So Fancy fries (from the restaurant’s secret menu) use vegan substitutes and are full of savory flavor.

The Guac burger, mac ’n’ cheese, and Oh So Fancy fries (from the restaurant’s secret menu) use vegan substitutes and are full of savory flavor.

We started off with a small portion of the sweet potato mac ’n’ cheese (small $5.95, large $8.95), prepared with a sweet potato–cashew cheese sauce, shiitake bacon, and almond “parm.” It was a bit jarring to take a forkful of shells and taste something other than the authentic cheese we were used to, but it works. It’s a reinvention of the traditional mac ’n’ cheese, albeit sweeter than the standard thanks to the sweet potato, but the sauce had the creamy consistency we were used to.

Next up, we tried the quinoa taco salad ($11.95), recommended by our cashier for taste and appearance. With spicy seitan chorizo, black beans, sweet corn, avocado, tomato, tortilla strips, créma, and agave-lime vinaigrette, it had an authentic Mexican taste, despite the lack of traditional taco ingredients like ground beef and sour cream. And it’s attractive enough to be Instagram-worthy.

The quinoa taco salad is one of the most popular lunch entrées.

The quinoa taco salad is one of the most popular lunch entrées.

Appetizer and salad done, we dove into a Guac burger ($10.95) next, a delicious vegan take on a meaty staple. Even though it didn’t have the typical flavor of a beef patty, the black bean–quinoa–sweet potato patty offered savory flavors. Garnished with corn salsa, onions, guacamole, tortilla strips, chipotle aioli, on a whole grain bun (a gluten-free bun is available for an extra $2.50), the Guac burger is an excellent vegan option for those watching their red meat intake but wanting a burger fix.

We ordered the Oh So Fancy fries to go with the burger—the air-baked French fries are topped with whisky onions, spicy seitan chorizo, mozzarella sauce, and garlic aioli sauce, but you won’t find them on the menu. They’re on what the place calls its secret menu, a selection of dishes you have to ask for by name. These items are often posted on the restaurant’s Instagram account. The fries were a good complement to our burger

To balance all the hearty and savory flavors, we ordered a refreshing berry smoothie ($7.50 for 12 ounces, $8.50 for 16 ounces). There are also cold-pressed juices ($9.95), seasonal lemonades, coffee, tea, beer, and wine. Since the restaurant is famous for its vegan desserts, among them dairy-free ice cream, cupcakes, and cookies, we decided to try the raspberry tiramisu cupcake ($3.95). This cupcake, which lived up to its award-winning reputation, catapulted the chain’s former celebrity partner and namesake Chloe Coscarelli to fame. The first vegan chef to win the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, she went on from there to launch the chain. One taste of the cupcake said it all: its light, sweet frosting and not-too-dense, not-too-fluffy texture was a welcome finishing touch to our meal.

The vegan raspberry tiramisu cupcake, made with organic whole oats, lives up to its award-winning reputation.

The vegan raspberry tiramisu cupcake, made with organic whole oats, lives up to its award-winning reputation.

All in all, by CHLOE was an eye-opening experience. We were pleasantly surprised by our meal, which more than lived up to the restaurant’s goal: “redefining what it means to eat well.” With reasonable prices, fresh ingredients, and a vegan alternative to the surrounding restaurants’ traditional bar food (pizza, sliders, chicken wings), by CHLOE is a welcome addition to the Fenway neighborhood.

By CHLOE, 100 Van Ness St., Boston, is open Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is served weekends starting at 10 a.m. Orders can be placed in person or online. The restaurant is wheelchair-accessible and accepts all major credit cards, but does not take reservations. Take an MBTA Green Line B trolley to Kenmore and walk a few minutes to Van Ness Street.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch and brunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below. 

Lauren Frias can be reached at lnfrias@bu.edu or on Twitter @laurenfrias_.

3 Comments

3 Comments on Lunch, Anyone? By CHLOE

  • Stephanie H on 10.26.2017 at 3:14 pm

    by CHLOE is so good!

  • M on 10.26.2017 at 6:00 pm

    great article! nice food photography and i agree that By Chloe is excellent

  • d on 04.11.2018 at 7:45 pm

    My (vegan) mom and I were both dissapointed by Chloe. The sandwiches (burger and meatball) were served cold and soggy, like they were made hours previous. the burger tasted like sugar from all the sweet sauce it had been drenched in. the Mac n cheese tasted overwhelmingly of soy substitute. Maybe I went on an off day but I don’t get the hype.

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