Sugar Plum Vegan- No More Excuses

Jean Reno says, "Eat your vegetables."

Being a vegan is a choice. An increasingly common choice. My buddy Bill? Vegan. Keith? Vegan. Law& Order SVU’s Christopher Meloni? Vegan. Nicholas Sparks? Nuttin’. (Which mean he eats nothing but nuts, and not peanuts because they are legumes!) What I’m trying to say is that no matter how silly veganism might seem to us real Americans, it’s catching on. And the more adherents it attracts, the more it needs to step up its game.

I’m looking at you Sugar Plum vegan restaurant! You’re giving the vegan business a bad name. I’ve been to the ‘Plum three times in my life. The first two visits were mediocre to good, with the desserts being the highlight of the trip. My last trip, however, was atrocious. It was as if they just didn’t care anymore, like they were just going through the motions, almost as if a gang of international bank robbers (mostly an American gang but with Jean Reno and that African dude from Blood Diamond thrown in for texture) had taken everyone in the kitchen hostage but ordered them to act “normal” if any customers came in. So then customers come in and Jean Reno (whose character name, strangely, is Mike which isn’t French at all but they stick with, as if the writers were too lazy to change the script) gets nervous and knocks out the real chef because he was chewing through his gag, and then the gang (with classicly hilarious results) is forced to cook up the dishes for the patrons, and, having never worked with vegan ingredients like diaya and nut-bacon and french fried soy logs, turn out unrecognizable plates of goop. They also have no idea how to work the register and every transaction takes twenty minutes, with one memorable scene featuring robber #3(I’m picturing Cedric the Entertainer here) trying to explain to some civilian how credit cards aren’t accepted because they support the military-industrial complex and one can never redeem those frequent flyer miles.

It was kinda like that.

Food was poorly prepared. Best thing on the plate was the green salad. Desserts, usually the go-to, verged on disgusting, the gluten-free chocolate cupcake tasting less like chocolate and more like inside of your pockets after a day at the beach (grit included), and the whoopie pie flavored highly with that distinctive sour refrigerator taste, evoking memories of when your college roommate made chocolate chip cookies with that butter that had been in the back of the fridge for three years.

Step it up Sugar Plum. Vegan ain’t fringe anymore. Which means you can’t get away with the crap you thought you could as a “vegan restaurant.” You’re just a restaurant now.  start acting like it.

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39 thoughts on “Sugar Plum Vegan- No More Excuses”

  1. i’m munching on a slice of whole foods’ whole wheat crust turkey sausage mushroom pizza right now. life, it seems, is filled with irony. tasty, tasty irony …

    i’m not quite sure why i felt compelled to share this.

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  2. Well your article has come at the perfect time as I do agree with it and have recognized its downfalls. I have let the cafe go and been dedicating my time to another project. I’ve been allowing others to run the place for me and it has just not been done properly. Thank you for your feedback as I am making the proper changes in the next coming months to bring the love and light back to Sugar Plum. Please visit again. Peace

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  3. I love the Sugar Plum and enjoy the food. It’s not 100% perfect but it’s a good place with animal-free food, and that food is very good! I’ve been there maybe 15-20 times and really like the place.

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  4. I found this review to be a bit odd, as my wife and I have eaten at the Sugar Plum a few times and found them to be delightful. I looked to Google, Yelp and Urban Spoon about it, and the three websites responded with 16 reviews averaging 3.5 out of 5 stars, 244 reviews averaging 4 out of 5 stars and 61 reviews averaging 4 out of 5 stars, respectively. That seems pretty good. Whenever we make a trip to Sacramento, we time it so we can eat at the Sugar Plum. Maybe us being vegans has something to do with it.

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  5. It’s weird that you’re simultaneously condescending and ignorant. I am a vegan and love Sugar Plum. While they have had some hiccups in service, the food is excellent and the current staff is a vast improvement. You should have your taste buds checked.

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  6. Is this article a joke? The last time I ate there, last weekend, was very pleasant. The sweet potato ~ avocado panini I had was to die for! 🙂 The flavor combinations were amazing. My tea was delightful and service was very good, fast, and took only a couple minutes from the time I ordered to pay and get my receipt. Both front rooms were full of customers, and so was the front courtyard and I found a nice place to eat in the back courtyard. You are most certainly not giving the ‘vegan business a bad name’, the person who wrote this sounds like they have a personal issue with the owner

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  7. I have had amazing experiences at Sugar Plum ~ have gone 3 times in the last couple months and have really enjoyed it ~ Jalepeno Burger, California Burger, Some kind of yummy panini, Amazing autumn root soup, organic coffee, and so on.

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  8. Sugar Plum is an amazing place with a staff who is very loving. I think your article is misguided. I love their Sunday brunch and fabulous desserts. I would eat there once a day if I could!

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  9. I’ve been a vegan for more years than I can “count” I’ve gone to the SPVG a number of times, recently. And actually, I try to get there as often as I can. I’ve found the food to be quite tasty, and the service friendly. I’ve been to other vegan restaurants, so I have something to compare it to. The one thing I can’t seem to make is Taco Tuesday. But, if I can plan far enough in advance – I’ll get there.
    Not sure exactly what you were looking for, and what you have to compare it to, but I can only say that I’m sorry for your loss.

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  10. I have to agree. I’ve eaten at SPVC about thirty times since it opened–no, I’m not a glutton for punishment, I wanted to support a vegan business and quite honestly, it takes a while for ANY restaurant to work out the kinks. In my opinion, the food would be very tasty if I ate it at a friend’s house, or if someone just starting to cook vegan had made it. It’s not GROSS, but it’s not restaurant-quality or particularly innovative. I’m a skilled, experienced cook, and my dishes look and taste better than anything I’ve had at SPVC. I’ve tried the bottomless brunch many times, and the biscuits are usually tough, and the scramble is bland and soggy. I’ve tried the baked goods several times and they’re generally disappointing. On top of it all, the service has been very lackluster, and sometimes even rude. I really hoped that the kinks would have been worked out by now, but I don’t have the money to be continually disappointed. There are lots of restaurants in Sac that either have good vegan options or are very accomodating, so I give them my money now.

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  11. I agree with you…but I would hardly blame the management. Melissa is lazy and not a good owner. she smokes constantly, as do I, (so I’m not saying this takes away from her ability to manage) and would rather focus on that than getting any work done. An office, no. Payroll, a joke, Professionalism: yea right! The management is a direct reflection of the gross lack of true “professionalism” by the woman who actually “owns” the place. It is time for this place to start acting like a true restaurant, and having worked there, I know that things could be improved. The place isn’t a complete mess, but Melissa should seriously just consider if she’s fit for this type of thing. To any customer, I say this: Just be happy that you’re not an employee dealing with someone who doesn’t have the mental capacity to write you checks, even after you’re on payroll.

    grow up Melissa. Pretty please!
    and thanks….. 🙂

    Joaquin.
    (also, I would not have posted this if you’d called me back, but that would be professional, which you are not)

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  12. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but i think the place is pretty damn good! I’ve been there a few times and have always been treated pleasantly. The food was delicious! I’m grateful that restaurant is an option for vegans to go eat and not have to pick through the menu for options. Well…unless you’re having a hard time deciding which wonderful dish to try!

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  13. Sadly the best food I have had at Sugar Plum in the past year was cooked by a guest chef when they where still doing that.
    Their Facebook always says they is going to change things, make things better and bring back the “light” what ever that means, but nothing changes. I have known a couple people who have worked there in the past and things seem to be really screwed up.
    Sacramento deserves better, I am all for supporting vegan businesses, but they have to be worth supporting.

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  14. I agree with VeganNotBeegan as, I am pretty sick and tired of seeing all of these “love and light” messages on Melissa’s FB and Twitter pages. Just more of her empty promises while she works on her other “business projects”…Oh really Melissa? Which one the legal one or the illegal one?

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  15. wow, i have eaten here many times and i am one of the most picky eaters i know. my husband and i love sugar plum and go out of our way to go there. yes i hate waiting for an half hour for food but… the food is great and it has never in the dozen or so times i have eaten there been a let down. maybe this author doesnt eat what i have had or has come on the bad days. but damn i love this place.

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  16. Here is the deal…Sugar Plum Vegan is a fraud and a disgrace to the Sacramento area vegans SPV had a blank slate given to them to set the benchmark for other vegan restaurants to live up too. From day 1 they just disappointed. They hire non-vegan staff, (which is completely unethically vegan) the restaurant is full of health code violations, (termites coming in through the building, dirty floors, staff smoking withing the restaurant patios) and the heinous treatment and turnover of the employees.

    I don’t understand one thing….has the owner not taken the time to read her Yelp reviews over the last year? It is blatantly obvious that her quality in food has gone from 10 to 1 in taste and quality in such a short time I am just wondering what in the he** Sacramentans are doing with their vegan food dollars. Because it is obvious that we are not spending it at the fraudulent SPV.

    My family used to eat here at least 2x a week when Walker was the person that would great us. The food quality was great as was the service. Once, he left things just continued to go downhill. So, please don’t attack me because you may not think I may not know what I am talking about. Because I know good vegan food.

    The baked goods are too sweet. The food is now swimming in oil. And more than ONE person in this town has helped Melissa out either for free or for some other “arrangement” and yet it still remains the same.

    SPV you could have been great. But, you turned your back on the people that wanted to help you and you lost your most loyal audience….The Vegans of SacTown.

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  17. I see all points. I will say that Walker was a great piece of this place and a shame that he’s gone. The current, (I guess you would call him) manager, is totally un-organized, un-proffesional and, well, kind of rude.
    This place has HEAPS of potential and I really hope they can turn things around. Hiring a vegan manager at a vegan restaurant just seems like a given!

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  18. I go to Sugar Plum about once a month if I’m lucky…. This is the place that I take my meat eating friends to in order to “wow” them with some vegan food. They have ALL been very happy with the food… My younger teenage brothers who came (they are very skeptical about all things vegan) still boast about how good their meal was.

    Only ONCE was I only partially satisfied with their food. Every other time I’ve been in pure bliss. I’m even (hopefully) going to have them cater for my wedding. 🙂 Their food is wholesome, bursting with flavor, and I leave feeling better than when I came…

    If you’re thinking about going-I suggest you do and try it for yourself… Then maybe you’ll look at this article in a surprising light like I am.. Sugar plum is in no way perfect but, they are very far from a disgrace.

    And Please- don’t doubt my familiarity with “first class vegan” food as I have had my share…

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  19. Thank you for the positive and negative feed back. I can be the first to admit I’ve made a lot of mistakes in this business. It has been far from easy nd it has helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses. I’m not here to address all of these comments for some of them are not up for discussion over the internet. If you have a problem with me for anything I do call me 7068100. And deal with the issue. Your words may be hateful and negative but my spirit is stronger and that negativity only gives me more energy to succeed. your comments are taken to heart and I will grow from everyone of them in a positive and constructive manner.
    I don’t feel the need to say anything else regarding this issue over the internet. My days and nights are too busy To give this anymore energy On This type of forum. Call me person to person If you feel the need to say anything else

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  20. Does the carnivorous Randy Paragary publish his personal phone number when faced with critics? I think not.

    Melissa Sugar for mayor!

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  21. I’m vegan and I’ve eaten at SPV multiple times as well as had their baked goods at Rainbow in SF and at events. The last time I ate at the restaurant was over the summer. I totally agree with the author on this one. While I thought the cooked food was mediocre to fairly good, I can’t say I’ve ever liked their baked good. They’re just awful. One time I got a cinnamon roll that was straight up inedible, and trust me, it takes a lot of bad to come between me and my cinnamon rolls. I hope SPV will improve and help the Sac vegan community grow.

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  22. I’ve been in maybe half a dozen times and everytime it has been some sort of disappointment. It did take forever to get rung up! The whoopsie pie was disgusting! …and the wrap was soggy and yet breaking at the same time. No thanks.
    I cannot wait!!! for a good, relaxing, competent vegan restaurant to open here!!!

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  23. Sac-eats tends to write food reviews in a borderline nasty, condescending way.  I suspect at least some of this is pure link-bait, where he writes something negative to start an argument and get attention.  Read through his reviews.  If it’s music or comedy, it’s generally positive.  If it’s food, it’s almost always negative.  Seems like he’s an unhappy person who finds a reason to dislike everything, or a troll looking for attention.  I’ve been to Sugar Plum, and thought it was pretty good.  Didn’t blow my socks off, but it’s worth a stop, and eating lunch out front in the sun is fun.

    In spite of the reviewer’s generally relentless negativity, it appears there’s something to this set of complaints. The owner of the shop posted a mea culpa and promised to make it better.  I think that’s worth something, and shows some character that’s certainly more appealing than increasingly strained, if creative explanations for why everything sucks.

    Sac-eats, the problem isn’t Sugar Plum or Water’s Edge Bistro or Red Lotus or Spin or Petra or Good Eats or Lounge on 20 or Scott’s or any other place you’ve oh-so-creatively ridiculed. The problem is you.

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  24. Wow. all it took was one review for melissa to realize her cafe is shit. I was the original manager, everything is in there because I put it there and how was I repaid?
    FIRED 6 WEEKS BEFORE MY SON WAS BORN & to add insult to injury I was replaced by a drunk ass fuck up who is not VEGAN, he would eat burgers onsite and laugh when customers complained. I tried to help melissa out both personally and professionally but she would rather have idiots kissing her ass and calling her “queen” than actually try to improve her situation, and now she is going to make “big” changes, like what, pay her employees, fire her friend and take cooking classes. Many thanks to the customers who remember my service and livication to being a Vegan and my commitment to a failing business. Do yourself a favour and eat @ Andy Nguyen’s where my eldest Son cooks or hit up Loving Hut for a real Vegan experience.
    woK

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  25. Dude, Joe, really man, I can’t believe I’m rising to your bait. And it’s not even good nightcrawler bait, it’s more like those jars of fake fish eggs that have been sitting in the bottom of the tackle box since the Carter administration. The kind you’d put into the water and get nothing from, as if they were meant to catch fish by creating a state of malaise only.
    But dude, really, my last four reviews were about how much I love Pizza Rock, Tuli, Devine, and Fat Face. Way to cherry pick buddy.
    I’m not that hard to please, honestly. You can punch me in the neck and call me Shirley, as long as your food is good, I’m a happy omnivore. And I won’t say I’m any kind of expert, but I’d say that I’m probably a better judge of food than you are researcher of blog posts. Man, I can’t believe I rose to that shit.

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  26. Having punched sac-eats in the neck while calling him Shirley after serving a mediocre lightly braised but overly aged crown roast? I can attest, he can be one testy bitch.

    In fact, having punched sac-eats in the testes while calling him Shirley after serving an exceptional if somewhat fatty duck confit? He’s as agreeable as a lobster in august.

    Every really good cook I’ve ever known — and I was one — is an omnivore… and probably 100% of them smoked cigarettes to excess on every break — myself included — and it never made good food look and/or taste like sludge.

    You know what’s worse than pusillanimous moralizing extremists who believe it makes sense to expect strict obedience to doctrine and dogma with regard to food preparation (and who can’t tell shit from shishkabob)?

    *wait for it*

    Nothing.

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  27. Went there last night.
    Ordered a club sandwich and a Reuben, split with my wife. Both sandwiches were good. Had a tomato soup which was fantastic.
    I think their desserts are too sweet and they’ve never been my favorite but I really enjoyed my meal and I consider myself fairly pick.
    Not sure what happened on your visit.

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  28. This review makes me concerned about the existence of parallel universes. Though, I’m glad I can count at least 30 friends and family that have not crossed into this horrific, alternate realm where Sugar Plum is anything but the most pleasant and delicious cafe in Midtown. And I’m pretty certain I’ll cross back over as soon as this browser window is closed.

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  29. Now that all of you haters have used this as your personal soapbox, let’s really look at the article;
    1) The “writer” (if you can even call yourself one) doesn’t list anything specific except one cupcake & a salad. Spellcheck apparently isn’t important on a gossip blog.
    2) The “writer” spends more time using stupid analogies & non relative movie references to try to paint a picture which is quite honestly, a waste of time to read. If you want to be considered a “real” critic, write a REAL review…
    3) Although the owner did offer not one but two mea culpa’s like cogmeyer pointed out, the fact that some ex employees want to bash Melissa more shows their immaturity & unproffessionalism. Get a life & a new job! And, while you’re at it stop by Andy Nguyen’s & ask Walker’s son where he worked before Andy’s… You guessed it, SPV! So, while you want to scream your complaints on a gossip blog, at least tell the whole truth, or at least most of it, not just what backs you up.

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