Since opening its doors in 1981, Inn Season Café in downtown Royal Oak, Michigan has been one of the most beloved vegan/vegetarian restaurants in the Detroit Metro. Yet, dining at this quaint little joint feels more like you are a guest in the home of your friend’s hippie grandmother. Maybe it’s the intimate atmosphere, the friendly staff, or the fresh authenticity of the food, but there is an exclusive feeling about enjoying a meal here. Like you’re in on a delicious secret…
This past Friday afternoon, my husband and I enjoyed a long, leisurely lunch at Inn Season Café sampling some comfort-food-style dishes to warm us up, as Michigan winter has officially arrived.
Usually crowded, the Café was only dotted here and there with a few late lunchers like ourselves, so the experience felt extra private and languid. Seated at a booth on wooden benches, the walls decked with festive pine branches decorated with ornaments in the shapes of vegetables, we started with a bowl of the Cashew Chili to split.
Appetizer: Cashew Chili
Served piping hot with two slices of soft vegan multigrain bread, this simple dish felt so satisfying after coming in from the cold. Filled with cashews, an assortment of vegetables, several types of beans, this chili was hearty enough to feed a lumberjack.
Drink: Neu “Superberry” Kombucha
I ordered a Neu Kombucha in the flavor “Superberry”. I have tried several other flavors of Neu Kombucha, and the Superberry, by far, is my favorite. Fizzy and teetering on the line between sweet and tart, this probiotic powerhouse was a perfect compliment to my salad.
Entrée I: The Inn Season Salad with Double Avocado and Tahini Dressing
Since visiting Inn Season for the first time when I was 18-years-old, the classic Inn Season salad has been my favorite meal to order here. (Just look at that picture!) It’s the pickled onions that really do it for me, though. They are so freaking delicious, sweet and savory all at the same time. I usually order this salad with a balsamic dressing, but I branched out as our helpful waiter recommended the tahini dressing. It was creamy, similar to the consistency of a dairy-based ranch dressing, and made this incredible, nutrient-rich salad even more filling than it already is. Topped with sunflower sprouts and jam-packed with fresh, local veggies, the Inn Season Salad will remain at the top of my list.
Entrée II: San Antonio Burrito with Vegan Cheese
My husband opted for the San Antonio Burrito with vegan cheese. I had a bite so I could write about it for you, but I wasn’t super impressed. That is possibly because I would not normally order a dish like this for myself. Nonetheless, this burrito tasted fresh, was served on a brown rice tortilla (yay, gluten-free options!) served with fresh lettuce, tomato, and a side of blue corn chips with salsa. My husband had to ask for a side of avocado, but some guacamole would have complimented this very well.
The one complaint about Inn Season that I have is the only vegan cheese option was Daiya. I am not a fan of Daiya, because one, they were just bought out by international pharmaceutical company, Otsuka, for $325 million. Two, there are really no health benefits to it — it’s mainly canola oil. And three, it tastes like shit (my opinion). So, Inn Season, if you could make your own vegan cheese or offer Follow Your Heart or Miyokos instead, I would love you even more than I already do.
Per my husband: “I thought the burrito was great. The mix of the melted vegan cheese, beans and rice filling inside the thin tortilla shell was wonderful.”
So, there you have it folks. Two totally different opinions on the same dish.
Dessert: Pear Tart with Coconut Pudding
As if that wasn’t enough food, we decided to go for dessert, too. I was a big fan of the coconut pudding. Creamy, cold, and full of coconut flakes, this was a luxurious dessert. It was a unique and perfect compliment to the decadent pear tart drizzled in maple syrup, which was predominantly made of a mixture of nuts. As far as tarts go, this wasn’t my favorite. It was a bit too heavy for my taste. When I think of tarts, I think of flakey crust, supple, tender fruit — and this was more torte than tart, in my opinion.
Per my husband, who ate the majority of the dessert: “The pear tart was great, though you said there were way too many nuts. I wish there was more pear and less nuts. The coconut pudding was one of the best parts. I would order it again, but four out of five stars.”
We left Inn Season full and happy, warmed by a tasty vegan lunch.