Vegetable Hot Pot at Mother Bunch Brewing: Healthy Comfort Food

Mother Bunch Brewing has quickly worked their way into the Downtown Phoenix Food and Drink scene by way of their massive burgers, well-crafted cocktails, and impressive local tap list. But their menu also manages to challenge the notion that food served in a brewery must necessarily be the greasy, creamy stuff that heart attacks are made of. Their Vegetarian Hot Pot is an excellent - and healthy - alternative to the breaded-and-fried bar food we've all become accustomed to.

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Don't get us wrong: there's a time and a place for deep-frying, and damn near everything can benefit from a little gravy. But if you're like us, and your family is planning an intervention to discuss your Christmas cookie consumption, you might be in the market for something a bit lighter. This Hot Pot manages to be warm, hearty, and comforting, but is also vegan.

Cauliflower, carrots, red bell pepper, onions, zucchini, and summer squash are cooked to perfection in a tangy red stew. The dish is at once bright, slightly spicy, sweet, and savory, without being aggressively skewed in any one of those directions.

Roasted red peppers, tomato paste, onion, red chili flakes, and vinegar form the base of the simmering sauce. Our server assured us that there was probably also a bit of Sriracha in there, too, which lent a gentle heat - no nose blowing needed - to the dish.

The stew is served with a pair of polenta cakes, freckled with poppy seeds. On their own they were unremarkable, but when incorporated into the rest of the dish as a sort of dumpling they acted as a nice, cooling element in the absence of any dairy.

At $14, the dish is a bit pricey, but the portions are generous and the dish is filling - we took home plenty of leftovers. Add this one to your New Year's Resolution list of hearty-yet-healthy local options.

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