The Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant offers a bi-weekly meal club that has saved my pandemic mom life. Moving to C-U in a pandemic has its downsides, but the food scene here has so much to offer.

Struggling with the stress and gloom of a prolonged lockdown, I am often not in the mood to make dinner. I can, at least, feel good supporting local restaurants by ordering in. Red Herring's meal club lets you plan ahead and is leagues better than the meal kits you can order online.


Red Herring offers home delivery through their meal club. You can customize your order from a frequently changing variety of weekly specials, soup, salads, wraps, grain bowls, and even include bulk items and dessert. Prices for full meals range from $12-15 with delivery built into that price. They even offer family packs, combo kits, and bulk items to make life easy. With so many excellent plant-based options, it is seriously difficult to narrow down your order.

Last Monday morning, after browsing Red Herring's menu, I promptly put in my order and tossed out my grocery list and meal plan. Meal club home delivery is on Tuesdays and/or Fridays with an order deadline of noon the day before.

An overhead shot of several takeout containers filled with food in a reused paper box. Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

I selected three entrees and a dessert from the menu and was delighted at the results.

The samosa burger wrap ($12) was served with a side salad and balsamic dressing. The wrap included a samosa-flavored burger patty made of white beans, potatoes, peas, cashews, and spices, with grilled peppers and onions and salad mix. On the side, they included mango chutney and mayonnaise. Red Herring recommended to warm the wrap up which I could have done on my fancy panini press, but instead I choose to microwave it for about 45 seconds. This worked out fine.

A samosa burger wrap from Red Herring is sliced open with a small pile of mango chutney beside a mixed greens salad on a white plate on a wooden table. Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

The wrap’s flavors were very reminiscent of an actual samosa with cumin, coriander, and fennel flavors. Not at all spicy, the burger patty was delicious. I did think the real stars of the wrap were the roasted peppers and onions. I did not end up using the provided mayonnaise but could have used ten more cups of the mango chutney. I spooned it on each bite of the wrap. The chutney was full of sweet and savory spices with plump golden raisins.

The side salad was really enjoyable. The flavorful mixed greens were topped with corn, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds. Everything was very fresh. I would strongly advise you to taste the dressing and add just a bit, as it is very strong. I love balsamic vinegar, and the dressing was sweet and complex — but with a strong acidic bite. 

A takeout meal from Red Herring includes a side salad, a cup of dressing, and a large portion of rotini noodles with mushroom Photo by Sara Ressing.

One of the most straightforward of the offerings was the pasta special: a marinara and mushroom meatball noodle bowl ($13.50). Oh sure, I can make pasta at home, but I don't have to now. I certainly am not going to the homemade marinara sauce or mushroom-lentil meatballs. Red Herring served the plentiful pasta with 4 "meatballs," vegan parmesan cheese, and a little side salad. I added a small amount of water to reheat the pasta in the microwave, and it turned out great.

The tomato sauce was thick and flavorful with a bit of a spicy kick. The meatballs had a mild smoky flavor. I thought the raw onion in the marinated pepper and onion salad topping was too strong and plentiful for my taste. Most importantly, I want to talk about the vegan parmesan "cheese."  Made from chopped nuts and nutritional yeast, it has a cheesy smell and parmesan-like texture. Nutritional yeast is a common vegan ingredient with a cheesy, nutty, or savory flavor. It was a perfect topping for the dish. The only thing I would have wished for would be a bit of garlic bread.

A Red Herring meal includes crusted tofu and two small carryout cups of sauce. Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

For the last entree, I selected the Buffalo tempeh bowl ($13.50). Full disclosure, I am from Buffalo, New York, home of the eponymous wing sauce. Not that I eat chicken wings, but I've made a lot of buffalo sauce and put it on a lot of weird stuff. Red Herring's buttery buffalo sauce is drinkable. Pro tip: they offer the sauce in bulk for chugging or whatever.

This dish consisted of fluffy yellow rice, topped with Buffalo marinated tempeh and roasted red peppers. With cilantro-lime coleslaw and seared leafy greens on the side, this meal felt very healthy. At least until I tasted the buttery buffalo sauce and dumped all of the vegan ranch dressing on top. This meal was my favorite, probably of everything I’ve tried at Red Herring. I let this kit sit in my fridge for 4 days, and everything held up well. The tempeh coating was crispy and held the sauces nicely. I love sauteed greens, and Red Herring does these well.

Photo by Sara Ressing.

Finally, we need to talk about my favorite part of the meal: dessert. I was excited to try the PB&J Cupcakes ($2.50 each). The cupcakes were pretty, topped with a raspberry and sprinkling of gold dust. The cake itself was moist and fluffy, filled with locally made berry jam, and covered in peanut butter frosting. Not too sweet, this cupcake made me want to try every other cupcake Red Herring has to offer.

Red Herring's meals are for anyone who loves good food. By ordering from their meal club, you are supporting their mission of producing wholesome, locally made, and sourced food. You are also making your life just a bit easier.

Red Herring
1209 W Oregon St
Urbana
W-F 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Top image by Sara Ressing.