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A quick look around Berben and Wolff's

Berben and Wolff's exterior

That new vegan deli on Lark Street -- Berben and Wolff's -- opened Tuesday. It's in the space at 227 Lark formerly occupied by The Brakes.

The deli is backed by Joey Berben and Max Wolff, who had already been making seitan for local restaurants. As Berben told us back it in March, their plan is to serve "things you would expect in a New York deli, but all plant based." And the menu reflects that aim. It includes items such as a housemade seitan pastrami reuben, a tempeh bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich, and BBQ pulled jackfruit with cabbage slaw on a bun. (We'll have more about the food in the near future.)

Hours currently are Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-8 pm and Sunday brunch from 10 am-3 pm. It's closed Mondays.

Here's a quick look around...

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Find It

Berben and Wolff's Vegan Delicatessen
227 Lark Street
Albany, NY 12210

Comments

I give it a year, year and a half. Isn't a vegan deli a bit of an oxymoron anyway? Right there with vegan bbq-no thanks.

Stoked about this! While there have been some patchwork options in the neighborhood, there has been a big hole for vegetarians/vegans since Shades of Greens shuttered.

I think I'll have to ask my boss for a raise in order to afford anything there. Also, what's the fascination with trying to make vegan and vegetarian stuff taste like meat? It almost never works, and the results are often grotesque. I became a vegan for moral reasons, I don't want my food to taste like dead things.

This should do well. I plan on visiting soon and I'm not even close to a vegetarian. Shades has been missed for awhile and this looks like the closest replacement so far.

@SuburbanSlumming.....couldnt wait to get on and give us your glass half empty opinion. Take it back to whatever Suburb you are pissed about living in.....

@SuburbanSlumming @sally

if you can believe it, not everyone shares your tastes and opinions. have fun not eating here!

Wow, tough crowd here. I wish Joe the best of luck in his endeavor. He's been pretty successful this far supplying local restaurants with his vegan creations.

Welcome to the neighborhood! We sampled some of the baked goods the other day and found everything to be delicious. I wish them much success!

this place is a great example of young entrepreneurs seeing a market unfufilled and doing what they can to improve their city. ethical, absolutely delicious, not overpriced (especially for quality, everything fresh and handmade). right off the bat they have a variety of options to satisfy everyone, including the gluten free crowd, salads, daily soups, etc. refreshing change of pace from how many different assorted asian restaurants. personally hoping to see this place grow into something really special.


as an aside, it's sad to see albany internet haters already knocking the effort of their peers, especially as it has only been officially open one day. not sure if their point is to keep lark street in the state it is in now, forever?

anyway, i gave this fledging business a try and was far from disappointed

Oh, look! Another great place in Albany has opened, and the first comment, of course, a complaint. Sigh, maybe someday, the area will gain a token amount of self-esteem. It's such a wonderful place, it certainly deserves it.

Fortunately, for those of us who live in this beautiful neighborhood, this is an extremely welcome addition. I can't wait to give it a try (I know, weird thing to do before complaining, if you're in the Capital District!) as I've been very excited about this place opening. I know quite a few people in the neighborhood have been as well, so I give them far more than a year.

Maybe the lazies from the suburbs should stick to lazing around the suburbs and stop pretending to concern themselves in any way with this area.

I stopped in today to check it out.
The place looks great and it was actually a very pleasant temperature (Brakes was always unbearably stuffy and hot).
Bought the pastrami. Excellent!

I'm a meat-eater, but I eat a lot of vegan/vegetarian food and think a lot of their prepared food looks delicious and well-priced. Some of their stuff is expensive, but you know what? Small businesses have a really small profit margin, and they need to charge a little more. It's worth it... not just for high-quality food, but also to have a tax-paying business utilizing a storefront in an area that's seen some vacancy lately.

Also, TapAsia (below the deli) is really, really good too! I'd love to see some cross-fertilization... maybe Berben selling some TapAsia prepared foods, and TapAsia selling Berben desserts--something like that. A girl can dream.

I'm not surprised by negative comments. Curmudgeons are made uncomfortable by pioneers. I get it. I'm nearly 50 and often think fondly about the past. Still, I work hard to maintain mental flexibility and know a good change when I see it. No judgment of those that have failed in this regard. My time will come, too. But I sincerely hope I have the common sense to keep my antiquated views to myself so that the rest of the world can enjoy the changing scenery.

I'm ecstatic to have Berben and Wolff in my town. I've had only one of their sandwiches and if that's all they served, I'd be back weekly to have it again and again. As it is, I'm going to try them all before I become a vegan curmudgeon and lock down on just one.

By the way, I'm a huge fan of AOA but wonder whether they couldn't moderate the comments a bit more aggressively. I'm sure they trash some that'd make my hair stand on end, but a couple above aren't nice and don't add anything to the conversation beyond reminding me that mean people are out there and always at the ready to share their vitriol under a fake name. Just asking. It's your wonderful site and a I trust your judgment.

Randal, I appreciate your very balanced and frankly kind comment. On that note, I certainly didn't mean to imply earlier that all people in the suburbs are lazy - that's just one trait of the image that comes to mind when I read comments like those above.

On the other hand, I do appreciate the overall balance of opinions on the blog, even if there are those that drive me batty and I'm sure that if AOA filtered more out for not being nice, my annoyance at all the complaining lately would likely put my own comments in that circular filing cabinet.

Very glad to hear you enjoyed the sandwich you had. I can't wait to stop by tomorrow!

JayK: You are kind. Thank you.

@freddy: "this place is a great example of young entrepreneurs seeing a market unfufilled"

@Randal Putnam: "Curmudgeons are made uncomfortable by pioneers."

You guys know this place already was a short-lived deli (before it was the short-lived The Brakes)?

Can't wait to check this out. Even as a meat-eater, I'm often in the mood for a healthy / light lunch and most options on/around Lark are heavy on the pizza and fried foods.

That being said, I do agree with one thing that Sally said earlier - maybe less focus on vegan products that pretend to be meat. The most appetizing things in the photos above (again, to this non-veg, non-vegan) are the mushroom po'boy and the various salads in the cold case. Do most vegans really want faux-ham, faux-pastrami, faux-bbq wings?

This place is great! I love good vegan food even though I eat meat and dairy products regularly. Visited the first morning they were open and had the aforementioned BBQ pulled jackfruit. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOD. It was a perfectly balanced sandwich in every way: the bun was soft but must've been grilled or toasted on the inside to give a slightly toasty internal texture. The cabbage slaw offered the ideal texture mix with the soft bun and the soft pulled jackfruit. It wasn't hot or spicy but left a bit of a tingle. It was served warm and remained so all the way back to Troy, wrapped in foil. The sauce (not sure what it was) on the part of the sammy that wasn't BBQ sauce was also great and exactly the right amount to bring the whole thing together but not enough to leak all over your hands and make a mess.
I know some people will doubt me, but possibly because of how well it was balanced I couldn't tell it wasn't pulled pork. It wasn't really trying to replace pulled pork to me, it just was.

As far as the whole "what's with vegan food trying to imitate meat?" debate, there are plenty of cuisines that are entirely plant based that aren't "trying" to imitate anything. They just are. Ever had a sweet potato quesadilla? What about veggie pad thai? A 100+ choices of Indian food? so many more examples?
As I mentioned I am a meat eater but only when I know the source of the meat. I believe that if you're eating mystery meat from fast-food or other sources, you might as well be eating fake meat (seitan, etc.) because current ones do such a good job playing the part AND you're not running the health risks of eating ground beef from 1000 different cows and/or pink slime.

I also feel like they are meeting a demand for vegan food outside of the prepared foods at the honest weight or the handful of options many places have. There is a pretty sizable vegan/vegetarian/and people like me in the area who have really wanted something exactly like this. Major cities have amazing vegan food like this and I've been to a few of them: Montreal, Boston, NYC, Portland (OR), 1000 places in CA, etc.. and amazing vegan food IS a real thing. Certainly, there is a ton of not awesome vegan food in the world and a lot of processed vegan food tastes and is no better than other processed food. and for devout meat-eaters, eating a "raw" slice of some vegan meats might not do it for you. But the first time I had seitan it WAS amazing; made in a sweet and sour stir fry style with tasty sauce, sliced thin and I couldn't tell what it was. I knew it wasn't meat and I knew it wasn't tofu but I did know that it was delicious.

I really hope they do well and can say with absolute certainly that I will be visiting again, I actually planned on going back that night but life got in the way, hoping to revisit them this weekend (and every weekend :)

Re: faux meats. As a vegetarian (and sometimes vegan), I don't understand the objection to faux meats if that is what people enjoy. ("I don't want my food to taste like dead things.") Nobody is forcing you to eat it. Some versions of faux meats are better than others. I also enjoy all the millions of traditional vegetarian/vegan dishes that don't emulate meat. But years ago when I did eat animal flesh, I happened to enjoy the taste and remember with fondness the flavor of bacon, fried chicken, and seafood. Frankly, if and when they develop a safe method of cloning meat -- and if it harmed no animal -- I would jump for joy. Meanwhile I'll be delighted to support Berben and Wolff's if they are a good as some of these reviews state.

"You guys know this place already was a short-lived deli (before it was the short-lived The Brakes)?"

...And?

"Do most vegans really want faux-ham, faux-pastrami, faux-bbq wings?"

Speaking as a non-vegan, non-vegetarian: I do! I also want more of the other items you mentioned. I want it all!

Congrats Joey on opening! I'm so excited to get in and try something soon! Lark st. needs some new life I think this is a perfect start !

Well, I tried to check this place out. Unfortunately, they're cash only, and if they have a sign posted about this, it's well-hidden. I got pizza instead.

I still wish them well and look forward to trying their food, but I'd recommend even a token degree of consideration for their customers.

Update: the sign was hidden behind the customers in front of me. And the food was well worth the wait! I'll be back very soon.

So happy about this place. Unfortunately Brakes wasn't able to stay in business, but I B&W will do great. Delicious sandwiches in a city with few solid delis, and the only fully vegan restaurant in the area.

13$ for a fake cuban sandwhich? That's comical.


Daniel, maybe you should try the sandwich before deciding whether it's worth it or not? Plenty of people seem to find it a good enough price.

"...fake cuban sandwich..."

@Daniel Naylor -- is may be real enough for me since vegetarianism is my reality. It'll be up to me to decide if it's worth $13.

I think the Cuban is like $11?...also I don't think the prices are bad at all. They give MASSIVE portions, and all of the proteins are house made. There's a great deal of labor that goes into something like that and as far as quality, you literally can't get anything like anywhere in Upstate New York. Stuff is amazing

I guess I should clarify I do not have any animosity towards vegans.

A cuban sandwhich is a cuban sandwich, it can only be the sum of its original parts, pernil, ham, cheese yadda yadda yadda...(but dont forget the beautiful bread). I bet this thing you call a Cuban is good.

I was implying that much like it is comical to pay 20$ for street food at Ama Cocina (and dont get me wrong, they are tasty...) a Cuban was created in the same vein: Cheap Eats.

Daniel B. sums it up nicely on his latest Fussy post.

Lay your pitchforks down vegans!

I had the vegan reuben today. I am neither a current nor aspiring vegan or vegetarian, but I enjoy eating vegan. I also love the flavor of reuben, but rarely eat it because it's usually too much food, not to mention fat and calories. The vegan version got the flavors right and was only $11. I don't think that cost is at all unreasonable, especially considering the seitan is hand made in house. I can't wait to try the jackfruit, wings, and po' boy.

Whenever I travel I like having options [especially] with regards to foods. Glad to have stumbled upon your place. The Sunflower Burger was delicious with the carmelized onions. I liken the Lark Steet community to mine - Sugarhouse, Utah. Eatablishments such ads yours are typically applauded and encouraged to keep growing back home. So, congrats to Berben and Wolffs for offering healthy alternatives.....

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