Seitan’s Realm Makes Vegan Fare Feel Downright Sinful
We checked out the new brick-and-mortar deli from owners Kevin and Amber Ridenbaugh.
Legend has it that the devil was cast down from heaven with a one-way ticket to hell. These days, Satan’s homophone lives not in the good place nor the bad one, but in Clintonville. Named for seitan—the savory, wheat-based meat substitute used in vegan cooking—Seitan’s Realm is Clintonville’s first vegan Arby’s.
The neighborhood is no stranger to vegan fare. It’s home to Portia’s Diner, Aladdin’s Eatery and Pattycake Bakery. But don’t expect to find a plethora of vegetables at Seitan’s Realm. Instead, this is a destination for house-made interpretations of America’s favorite animal products: Roast beeef. Cheeze sauce. Smoked porq. Seitan chikun.
How these realistically textured animal substitutes come together remains a mystery to this omnivore, but one thing that should not be secret is the allergen page of the eatery’s website. Folks with nut and wheat allergies need to take a close look before they dive in.
Owners Kevin and Amber Ridenbaugh opened the vegan deli in October after operating a food truck for two years. The couple took over the space formerly occupied by A Common Table, located along the strip of High Street where the Clintonville Farmers’ Market resided in pre-pandemic days. And with Black Lives Matter and Clintonville Kangaroo signs in its window, the irreverently named business fits right into the neighborhood.
The small storefront currently serves carryout Thursday through Saturday and provides curbside pickup. Inside, Seitan’s Realm features a deli case with four plant-based picnic salads (such as macaroni or broccoli salad) available by the pound and deli meats (meetz?) available for purchase for $1.18 per ounce. There’s also an array of vegan desserts including, of course, devil’s-food cake.
The menu features vegan versions of classic American food. The poppers ($15) are a must-have and are better than the frozen-to-fried fare ubiquitous in bars. A generous portion of fried whole jalapeños are stuffed with plant-based iterations of cheddar, cream cheese and bacon. With no real animal fat from cheese to counter the spice, the true flavor of the peppers comes through.
As for sandwiches, the Beeef N Chedduh ($9) is a replica of a classic Arby’s roast beef sandwich and tastes like (and probably is) a guilty pleasure. Soft and savory, with a sweet and tangy sauce, it’s served on a toasted onion bun.
The gyro ($9) has more vegetables than most: lettuce, tomato and gyro beeef is wrapped in a soft pita, with a house-made tzatziki sauce served on the side.
And the Shia LaBuffalo ($10) is the restaurant’s version of a hot chicken sandwich. A fried seitan chikun patty is slathered in hot sauce with lettuce and dairy-free ranch sauce on a pretzel bun. To my taste buds, the sandwich had a faint chemical taste and was my least favorite of the offerings.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum from omnivore to vegan (or saint to fallen angel), Seitan’s Realm is worth a try as a plant-based alternative to Arby’s. Say the devil made you do it.
Seitan’s Realm, 3496 N. High St., Clintonville, 614-230-2889, seitansrealm.com