Dairy milk in vegan venue
One of the great things about Berlin is that there seems to be so many new vegan places to visit, it’s difficult to keep up!
A visit by my sister last weekend was the perfect opportunity to try somewhere we hadn’t been before, so we took a break from sightseeing and let the U-Bahn take us away from the tourist hordes, down to Neukölln, where there’s a new vegan tapas bar called Alaska. (I neglected to ask about the bizarre name, perhaps that particular US state is noted for its Spanish cuisine?)
It’s a really lovely place, a real oasis on a rather run-down street. Nicely decorated and comfortable, with a pleasant atmosphere, prompt service and very friendly multilingual staff.
We ordered a selection of tapas, but there’s also other stuff on the menu, including sandwiches and desserts. As it’s also a bar there’s a good range of alcoholic and soft drinks.
Everything was superb, as delicious as it looks in the photos, especially the perfect patatas bravas and the big fluffy Spanish tortilla with aioli (like a garlic mayonnaise). The lovely deep-fried beetroot croquetas with some sort of herb-cheese came with side salad and a great dressing.
Waiter, there’s a cow in my coffee.
I didn’t want to have to write this next bit, and I take no pleasure in it. Until we looked at the coffee page I was looking forward to writing a quick few paragraphs of praise and adding some mouth-watering photos.
The only thing that soured our visit to Alaska Bar was to see dairy milk being offered with coffee and tea, albeit for an extra 30 cents. We didn’t notice it until the end, as we’d all had cold drinks with the food, and were considering ordering coffees.
UPDATE PLEASE SEE INFORMATION IN THE COMMENTS BELOW THAT INDICATE THIS VENUE HAS NOW STOPPED SERVING DAIRY
I don’t think somewhere that is advertised as vegan should be offering any animal-cruelty foods at all. If a cow cappuccino is fine, why not egg in the tortilla? Why not offer ham in the croquetas?
Are vegan coffee places really turning away so much business that they have to offer cow’s milk to stay afloat? I sincerely doubt it. And Alaska certainly lost an order of a glass of wine, two coffees and some desserts, as seeing it on the menu put us off ordering anything else.
Seeing the cow’s milk option felt like hearing a new friend, with whom you’re getting along really well, suddenly say something racist. It’s like an emotional slap in the face that makes you reassess everything about them. I suddenly just wanted to leave.
It’s different to going somewhere which you know isn’t vegan. For example, it’s a good thing when a regular bakery introduces vegan items, because it means that things are moving in the right direction, even if just for financial reasons. But a supposedly vegan place that goes the other way is worrying, as it means they know about the issues but aren’t taking them seriously. In a vegan restaurant you shouldn’t have to worry that your soya cappuccino might have been mixed up with a dairy one, or whether they’ve made sure that the wine isn’t filtered with gelatine. Vegan places should be a sanctuary from cruelty.
I would still recommend a visit to Alaska – everything we had was excellent, and they are still 99% vegan after all – but while you’re there, you might like to ask them to drop the one bit of cruelty from their menu.
More information about Alaska bar can be found here: http://alaskabar.de/