Sunday, March 20, 2011

No Love for Loving Hut Pittsburgh

I was excited to hear that a Loving Hut opened in Pittsburgh. I'd heard from other vegans that it was really good, but with its touchy-feely name and all-vegan menu, I knew my omnivore husband would be reluctant to go.

I give him credit for agreeing to go last night. Unfortunately it was one of the worst restaurant experiences we've ever had, and neither of us will ever go again.

First, the service was awful. We'd just spent hours shopping for stuff for a home renovation project--flooring, cabinets, etc., so we were starving and thirsty. It took 15 or 20 minutes before anyone even came over to our table, and then another 10 minutes to get our drinks. Our food took forever too. The waitress apologized for the long wait and said dessert was on the house, but I couldn't decipher the bill so wasn't sure if that was true.

Second, the menu was almost entirely focused on fake meat. There were only a few things on the menu that didn't have fake meat--a salad and a panini sandwich with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes that I knew I could easily make at home. Ugh. I don't like fake meat--if I wanted to still eat meat, I wouldn't be a vegan. And it's processed and unhealthy. Yuck! Given my reaction, I felt for my husband, who really struggled to find something he wanted to try (he was hoping for, well, some type of vegetable dish--crazy, huh?).

Third, the quality of the food was poor. I had the Jumbo Drumsticks as an appetizer, made with mushrooms, tofu and soy ham. When I bit into one, there was a whole green onion in the middle of it--what the...? I pulled it out and ate the rest, which had very little taste and pretty much just tasted like fried, breaded something, in not a good way.I ordered the BBQ Noodles because it was something I knew I'd never make for myself, and my husband ordered the veggie burger. The BBQ Noodles had BBQ-flavored fake meat over a giant bowl of rice noodles with a little shredded lettuce on top. The few slices of BBQ fake meat were kinda gross and just didn't taste good. The sauce was so minimal that it wasn't nearly enough to cover all the noodles, so most of the meal was plain noodles with shredded lettuce. The crispy rolls it was served with were good--but they had soy ham in them. I've never heard of a spring roll with ham in it--why do they have to put fake meat in everything???

My husband's veggie burger was drowning in sauce, to the point that he took two bites and then couldn't even hold it anymore because the bun was covered in sauce. So all he ate were the french fries, which he said was soggy.We had the Pandam Cake for dessert. It was good, but not fantastic. It was dry and didn't have too much flavor--it really just tasted sweet.

Thanks to this awful experience, my husband will likely never agree to go to a vegan restaurant again. I have to agree that it was awful, and I wouldn't go again either. I hate to think that omnivores interested in vegan cuisine would try this restaurant and think all vegan food is unhealthy, processed fake meat dishes that aren't very good. In my opinion, Loving Hut not only doesn't help the vegan cause, but hurts it.


  1. Wow, that's really too bad. Vegans can have a bad dining experience and keep trying but for your husband to agree to come and then be let down, that's really frustrating. That's also why I don't eat out much. At least he always knows you can cook up something way better (and save money) at home.

  2. +1 to writing an honest review. I have also heard good things about the Loving Hut but am glad that I heard a thorough review. Have you thought about writing a letter/email to the restaurant?

  3. What a disappointment! I was there a few months ago and it wasn't bad, it just wasn't great. I agree about the fake meat was pretty much on everything! My friend got the lemongrass tofu which was great. My soup was just funky though.

  4. Oh no! Sorry to hear you had a bad experience! I've always had good service there. Ryan loves the sauce on that veggie burger. And I've never ordered any of those other things, besides the cake, which I enjoyed (maybe it was less dry when I had it?). That's sad.

  5. Darn, I was going to get the lemongrass tofu! I should have. I thought the sauce on the veggie burger was good, but the bun was dripping in it, so you couldn't even hold it. I guess this restaurant is for people who are really craving meat!

  6. Hello All,

    I'm sitting here at Loving Hut now. I eat at this restaurant 3 times a week, I LOVE it. I can't say anything bad about this place. The service is always great and the atmosphere is wonderful. I have tried everything on the menu, it's all VERY good. I would give it another try and you'll learn to love it too. I've also been a Vegan trainer for 3 years and I know from experience Soy meat is good in moderation... I would like to express how much I love this place and they even have raw deserts, I did eat raw the first year of being vegan but was to skinny.... Hope you can give it another try!


  7. Minh, that's great that you found a vegan restaurant you love so much. I've heard from many vegans that they like this restaurant. And if you are really craving meat, it's the place to go.

    Personally, I wouldn't go back unless they varied the menu to include non-fake-meat items. With the current debate about health concerns over soy meat, I choose to avoid it. For me, whole foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains are better than processed foods, so I choose whole foods over processed. My biggest issue with this restaurant is that I've often had to defend vegan eating to omnivores who think a vegan diet is mostly about eating fake meats and cheeses; this restaurant reinforces that idea.

  8. too much soy, too much fake meat, a lot of iffy/questionable thanks! i totally agree, this restaurant is a joke.

  9. Its crazy how picky us in america can be. This restaraunt is absolutely amazing! Before reading this I actually wrote a personal email to company of how great the food and atmosphere is and asked for one or more to be brought closer to the city (pittsburgh). I've had several of the same dishes spoken of earlier and felt they were awesome. I believe if one is that picky about ever single item they should avoid eating out and just make their own food. Leave restaraunts for us people who appreciate the greatness.

  10. Oh yay! Another negative comment!

    1.) The definition of "picky" is when you eat only a few things--like kids who will only eat pizza and pasta with plain sauce. As anyone who has read this blog knows, I LOVE food and love trying new recipes and restaurants.
    2.) Wrong definition aside, that's OK--I got your meaning! Complaining that others don't like the same things as you is like what I want to do when I find people who don't like tomatoes. I want to shake them and cry, "How can you not like tomatoes???" But as an adult I've learned different people like different things.
    3.) I still maintain that this meal was literally one of the worst restaurant meals I've had in my life. An expensive, awful Mexican meal at a gas station in Alaska *may* have been worse. But that's just me--I don't like heavily processed fake meat, and that's 99% of what Loving Hut offers. If processed fake meat is your thing, good for you!

    I could go on because negative comments are so fun (there are some grammatical errors, and America has nothing to do with it), but I'll stop there ;-)

  11. Ugh, I agree 100% with you, VB. My husband and I (he's vegan, I'm veg) have been to the Loving Hut in NJ a few times and I am always disappointed.
    We went today for lunch and I had some sort of Divine Holiness panini or something. The "chicken" was frighteningly realistic to the point where I actually had to ask the waiter if it was real. About an hour later, I got really sick from it. I just don't think all that processed soy crap can be healthy in any possible way. I am swearing it off.
    My husband - who adores the vegan cheesesteak - will have to dine alone from now on :)

  12. I've eaten there so many times to the point of becoming the "mayor" of Loving Hut on Foursquare not once, but twice! Yes, the service can be slow, but fortunately, it's worth the wait.

    I've been a vegan for over a decade now, and personally, I'm thankful that Pittsburgh finally has an all vegan restaurant! Being vegan has never been easier lately with products like Daiya, Vegenaise, and places like Loving Hut.

    If fake meat isn't your thing, Might I suggest some of the other restaurants in Pittsburgh like the Zenith, The Udipi Cafe, Thai Cuisine, or the Quiet Storm that don't focus as much on fake meat.

    For many people, myself included, fake meat was a great segue way between being an omnivore and a vegan. I was happy that there were products that cater to the vegan-curious omnivore. To many, restaurants like the Loving Hut are many people's first introduction to anything vegan. I think it's great that they have a place like this that can serve them something that tastes and feels familiar, yet is cruelty free. It's a win-win situation.

    I'm sorry your experience was bad... but honestly, even though I've had mediocre service here, I'll continue going back and supporting places that cater to vegans like me.

  13. My daughter and I decided to go here for lunch yesterday since we are dairy and gluten intolerant and are trying to incorporate more vegan meals into our diet, and Loving Hut advertises they carry gluten free items. The waiter spoke such broken English that I could barely understand him, and when I asked him if they cleaned the grill in between foods with wheat and gluten free items and fried the gluten free fried items in a separate dedicated fryer, he answered me with answers that I could not understand because of seriously poor English and non-sensical answers (and doubt that he understood my question as well). At that point I should have run for the hills, but noooooo, I had to have that vegan gluten free food! I ordered some kind of veggie stir-fry with tofu and really liked the garlic sauce on it, but it came with plain brown rice that I had to drench with Bragg's aminos just to give it flavor. I also had a pretty good, supposedly gluten-free crispy rice roll that came served over a salad with a pretty good sweet and sour dressing, and we had a raspberry vanilla cake slice (gluten free) for dessert and it was very tasty (made with almond flour so a bit dense, heavy and dry, but still good). My daughter had the BBQ noodle bowl you had with vegan BBQ "beef" on a stick and crispy rolls. Everything I had tasted pretty good, but my veggie dish was supposed to contain mushrooms and there were none at all, and they have bubble tea (one of my fave drinks) on the menu and did not make it that day so we couldn't order any. My daughter did NOT like her BBQ noodle bowl at all....she said it was tasteless and had no sauce at all on it (seriously, who serves DRY noodles and veggies?) and only came with a small dish of sweet and sour sauce on the side, so she requested a dish of ginger sauce to add to the bowl and it had so much ginger in it that it was almost inedible. Today I am SERIOUSLY paying for eating there and the bathroom has been my best friend all evening. BIG MISTAKE eating there if you are Celiac or gluten intolerant! STAY AWAY if you have a bad sensitivity to gluten like I do unless you like horrid stomach cramps and the end result of them! Taste wise, my food was pretty good and I enjoyed it while not knowing I was getting glutened, but with so many missteps with communication, missing listed on the menu ingredients, me getting glutened to the point it made me very sick, and my daughter's dry and tasteless noodle bowl, I must agree with you!!!!