It has taken me a looong time to write this review. Sure there were other things happening that got in the way, and yet I know that the real reason I have procrastinated so long is that I am going to write a mixed review. I hate having to say anything less exuberantly complimentary about a place, especially since the owners of the last place I did that for got offended and called me racist (whatevs). So my impression of Remedy Diner is decidedly a 3-star one. If you check their reviews on Happy Cow.net and Facebook, you will see a solid mix of 1-star and 5-star reviews. The 5-star reviews on FB far outweigh the 1-stars; however, at least 5 of the most negative reviews were written in the last 6 months, indicating there has been a decline in quality.
Even though I am not alone in my negative impressions, it doesn't make me feel any less reluctant to write them. So to set the stage, a few months back we were in Raleigh looking for a new car. When we finished not buying the car, it was nearly 9 pm and everyone was hungry. Where to find good vegetarian food at 9 pm in Raleigh? A Happy Cow search showed that Remedy Diner was not to far from where we were and that they were open until 10 pm. I didn't think that I had been there before, but as soon as we entered, I remembered that I had actually been there once before (also around 9 pm) and had a very meh experience. Part of my less than fuzzy feelings have to do with the mood of the place. The staff, decor and mood are very young hipster (think maybe feeling out of place if you don't have tattoos and piercings), bordering on what we used to call in my traveling days, "gutter punks" (think unwashed baggy black and camo clothing, dusty combat boots, mohawks, safety pin piercings, and a few requisite dogs). Being as I am over 35 and don't have any tattoos or piercings, I felt a little out of place. There happened to be a number of costumed patrons in the Diner that night who must have just come from a day at Comic Con, thus heightening the "I must have walked into a futuristic comic book" sensation. Remedy Diner supports local artists, which is way cool; however, just be prepared that the kind of art tends to range from "Hmm... that's a little weird" to "Downright disturbing, not sure if I can digest here." This is all a matter of expectation and taste. If you like young, cool, urban, slightly dark and snarky funk, then Remedy Diner is definitely for you.
The food was on the pricier side, while the quality was mixed. I had already decided that I would write a review, so we opted to order a wide variety of dishes - appetizer, main dishes, a special plate, and dessert. Let me just say, I expected the tab to be over $50, but not as far over $50 as it ended up being for the three of us... I had my son (who by the way, was completely oblivious to my concerns of ambiance and cost and gives the Diner a full 5-stars) help me remember exactly what we got so that I can comment on them separately. First of all, Remedy Diner, though not fully vegetarian, has a very decent selection of both vegetarian and vegan options. I also trust that they are well-informed and serious that when something says "vegan" it truly is. First we ordered the Buffalo Non-Chicken Wings ($8.50) *Winner of PETA's Top 5 Vegan Wings in USA*. Very, very tasty, yet what you see below is what you get for the price, minus maybe one more soy-chicken patty.
For entrees we got the Black Bean Burger ($10.35), which I remember being both very tasty and well-proportioned; the Friday night special, Three Blue Corn Tacos with Refried Beans ($15), spicy and okay-tasting but a good amount of food; and the Tempeh Tantrum ($10.35) *Winner of PETA's Top 5 Sandwiches in USA* with the Roasted Red Pepper Soup ($2.50) in place of chips.
The soup was really flavorful, which was important because the sandwich was deeply disappointing. The sandwich was very small and underwhelming, especially in light of its boasting a PETA award winning title. The sourdough bread looked just like regular sliced wonderbread, the tempeh bacon was good but skimpy, as were the lettuce and avocado. Definitely do not recommend this sandwich. But then again, from reading other reviews, it seems like one of the Diner's main issues is inconsistency, so maybe the poor quality of my sandwich had to do with the fact that it was almost closing time, and the chef on duty was dubious (let's just say I saw him doing something in clear Servsafe violation before we entered and prayed that he would not be the one cooking...). We finished up with a slice of Key Lime Pie, which was again, pricey, but excellent. All of their desserts are vegan and made in-house. I wanted to try another dessert but my sagacious sweetheart stopped me, and boy when I got the tab, was I glad, although my tongue and stomach could have handled sampling another piece of pie!
So in summary, if you need a place to find vegan food in downtown Raleigh (especially late at night), Remedy Diner is not a bad option, especially if you are with an omnivorous crowd (half the menu is non-vegetarian). Just be aware that the main issue with this place seems to be inconsistency. The staff might be rude; they might be friendly. The food might be delicious; it might be plain and under-proportioned. The service might be slow; it might be prompt. The management might care if you have a bad experience; they might be unresponsive. These markers all indicate to me a weakness in the management structure. Remedy Diner has a good concept and some amazing desserts; hopefully, they can achieve a level of concern over customer service that will allow them to expand, rather than shrink their appeal.