veggies to go

Macaroni & cheese, green beans, mashed potatoes and cornbread are served piping hot at Veggies To Go.

The Friday before the Georgia game, I was treated to lunch at the Women’s Philanthropy Board fall luncheon, headlined by the hilarious Barbara Dooley.

I sat next to a representative from international apparel company Robin-Ruth, a girl about my age who had flown in from New York to work with Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences for the first-ever Student Design League. She also happened to be the most effortlessly cool human being I’ve ever encountered.

We chatted about her time on The Plains as she ate the vegetables I’d been careful to spread around my plate (I’m very good at making it look like I’ve eaten something I absolutely will not eat, which is most things). She mentioned she’d been craving a good salad (oxymoron if you ask me), adding the students she was working with had taken her to Veggies To Go the night before.

Veggies To Go. I’d avoided the restaurant my entire college career. Friends and roommates touted the cuisine, always followed by, “but there’s nothing there you’ll eat.” In my two adult Auburn years, I’ve used the Glenn Avenue location exclusively as a landmark to find my favorite Chinese restaurant.

“I’ve never been there,” I told my super-cool-but-she-didn’t-know-it-which-made-her-even-cooler companion.

“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” she replied. “It was more like soul food.”

Soul food? I’m listening.

I’ve since discovered the restaurant is more like a meat and three, save the pressure of having to make a quick decision as you go down the line with a server scowling at you from behind the sneeze guard. I can get on board with that.

I tried out Veggies To Go this week, opting for the three veggies and cornbread meal. There were several meats and dozens of sides scrawled on a chalkboard above the register, but no one in a hairnet judging me for my slow decision-making. I settled on green beans, mac & cheese and mashed potatoes, hold the gravy. I added a soda, which brought my total to a little more than $8. My meal arrived fast and hot on a lunchroom tray.

OA preps reporter Will Sammon joined me, also effortlessly cool and fresh off a plane from New York. He ordered grilled chicken (typical), green beans, creamed corn and mashed potatoes, also with cornbread. He refused to give me much feedback on the meal, but by the end of it, he had joined what my mother calls “The Clean Plate Club,” which leads me to believe he enjoyed it at least a little.

I guess it’s at this point that I should confess I am a southern food snob. Try as you might, you cannot beat Grams’ mac & cheese or Mom’s cornbread. If you’re one for macaroni smothered in thick cheese, Veggies To Go has you covered. But I found the dish a bit heavy and the cheese too viscous. Similarly, the cornbread was on the dry side and not terribly flavorful.

But I’ll concede these guys aren’t veggies.

The green beans, however, were some of the best I’ve ever had. They were soft and savory, and miraculously stayed steaming hot the entire meal. I’m sure they were cooked with bacon or ham at some point, but neither appeared in my Styrofoam bowl. Just a pile of delicious green beans.

The mashed potatoes were also very good, although I had to add quite a bit of salt. They weren’t perfectly smooth. But the lumps of potato were few and far between and added a nice texture to the dish.

Overall, Veggies To Go made for a nice, warm lunch on a gray, wet day. And though it’s not Mom’s cooking, it’ll make for good greens and black eyed peas to ring in 2016, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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