Temple tackles vegan

Vegan food doesn’t have a great reputation.  It’s thought of as medicinal, pretentious, and unclean.

Temple, the new eatery at Sunset Place, seeks to change that.  While by no means perfect, and falling into many of the classic pitfalls of veganism, Temple is an interesting experiment I was happy to experience.

The interior of Temple is decorated in warm woods and the open kitchen space makes you feel right at home as you enter. A  large bowl offering tastes of all of their cold pressed juices is a must-see. The “You Clean Up Nicely” blend, a mix of pineapple, apple, ginger, and aloe, was refreshing with a kick, and had me feeling perky for an hour after.

Less enticing, however, was the “You’re Cool as a Cucumber” blend.  The kale and fennel base overpowers any flavor of cucumber, and there is an after-taste that is peculiar and musty. Infused waters are refreshing, but not special in the same way some of the juices and nut milks are.

The salads are adequate, although it should be noted how fresh they taste, and how nice and light the dressings are. Entrees, such as hot pots, are well spiced, if a tad on the small side. Also notable are the nice snacks: carrots and house-made hummus and edamame with a house-made temari.

But the restaurant, for all its benefits, has one massive Achille’s heel.  The prices, for what is offered, and portion sizes, are absurd.  Beyond that, the menu does not list prices, and they must be requested.

Smoothies can run over $10, and even simple cucumber water costs $3.50.  It’s hard to take the restaurant’s message of accessible veganism seriously when the prices are so prohibitively expensive.

Other faults are some of the overwhelming pretensions of the menu, such as strange, Luddite sketches informing us such platitudes as “Blueberries Don’t Blog” and “Asparagus is Offline.”  I would be lying, however, to state that the corny puns on the menu didn’t make me chuckle, like, for example, “Me, Myself, and Chai.”  Temple’s hours are also strange, closing by 6 p.m. most days.

Although flawed, Temple is good for a quick lunch for the health-conscious diner or a post-workout snack.  It fills the much needed niche of vegetarian cuisine in the immediate vicinity of campus, and is a welcome addition to the dining scene.

Temple is located at 5831 Sunset Drive, South Miami, 33143.