Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mehfil Indian

Yay! There is finally a North Indian restaurant in walking distance of my house that doesn't suck. Welcome to the neighborhood, Mehfil!

In case you forget where you're eating, the name is on the plates. :)

Since we were a larger group, I made a reservation a few days ago. While I was at it, I told the nice man on the phone the 3 of us were vegan. He told me to ask for him when we got there
and he'd go over the vegan options with me. Well, I did just that, and Ravi kindly pointed out
the numerous choices.

First up we had these fluffy and spicy samosas. I've eaten tons of samosas in my day, and these certainly ranked with the best. Crispy dough, pillowy potatoes and peas, and just enough spice to leave your mouth aglow, and ready for the entree.

In the foreground is my Aloo Gobhi: Potatoes and cauliflower in a spicy curry. My only complaint would be that I prefer a much higher cauliflower to potato ratio, but that is the s
ame wherever I order this dish. Overall quite tasty. Still, I think I preferred my husband's Paneer Chana Masala (minus the paneer (cheese) of course), which is the dish in the background. It was more mild and savory and had nicely balanced flavors. Plus the chickpeas were cooked perfectly - not mushy at all. I didn't get to try the Mixed Vegetables, which was the entree of choice for the other vegan in our group, but she said it was quite good. Hooray!

Sadly, none of the rice at Mehfil is vegan because they add cream to it (what???) but they do offer a vegan roti, above. This whole wheat bread was perfect for sopping up sauces, and quite tasty in its own right.

Mehfil is also a winner because it carries a variety of Sula wines, the Chenin Blanc being one of my favorite beverages to pair with Indian food. Verdict: Anytime I'm craving North Indian food, it's off to Mehfil I'll go. Hopefully they do well in their new, and very large, space. Fingers crossed....

After dinner we went back to a friend's house in the 'hood and had dessert. The vegan mint chocolate cookies from Arizmendi Bakery (above) were amazingly moist and decadent and went perfectly with a few scoops of Alkemie's vanilla bean ice cream, which is cashew and coconut based and very delicious. A lovely sweet ending.

This weekend will be getting its own sweet ending this evening, as I'm attending the launch party for Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's new cookbook, Color Me Vegan. Stay tuned for the full report in the next few days. Meanwhile, eat well and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Last Saturday, the husband I braved the wind and rain and headed up north to Sausalito (one of my fave places, btw) to try out a restaurant we've heard good things about: Avatar's. What drew us to Avatar's in the first place is their menu's declaration: "Please note that we can make any dish Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, or to your specific taste. No dietary restrictions!" Gotta love that. Also gotta love that they serve Indian/Mexican fusion cuisine... so not exactly your everyday fare. Named after the original owner, and having nothing to do with blue-hued, nature-revering, humanoids, this place felt like our kind of joint right away. It is homey, unassuming, and full of characters. From the we-never-smile old ladies cooking in the back to the owner/waiter who immediately took our menus after hearing we were vegan. "You won't be needing these", he said, snatching them away, "I am going to prepare for you the best food you've ever eaten anywhere in your life. Now how many places can say that?" I didn't want to hurt his ego by regaling him with tales of hours-long meals at some of the best restaurants in the country, so we conceded. Sure, go ahead, knock our socks off.
First up was the chapati. No ghee here, folks, and super delicious, especially with the mint chutney, pickled carrots, and pineapple salsas with which it was served. We were off to a good start.
Then this curry dish appeared. Unlike the typically greasy Indian curry, this was light, fresh, and packed with veggies. There was also some unidentifiable tastiness going on. Spices and/or cooking techniques I'm not familiar with? All I know is that soon the bowl was empty and I caught my husband's eye with a look that said, "Alright, that was really good. Let's see if he can top it."
Sure enough, he did. Behold the pumpkin enchiladas. I have no idea why this works, but it really really does. Spiced pumpkin puree (not quite curry, but something like it) gets wrapped in corn tortillas, baked, and then topped with a scrumptiously savory sauce. For added measure, a dollop of tamarind glaze gets drizzled on top. Heaven. And that rice is no throwaway either. Cooked to perfection, and containing just the right amount of veggies and herbs, it complemented the dish in all the right ways.
We were happy campers.

So, was it the best food we've ever eaten? Well, probably not. But, it more than warrants a trip to Sausalito, and we will definitely go back for more in the future. The enchiladas alone are worth the trip, and I look forward to seeing what else they've got up their vegan-friendly sleeves!

Next up, we'll be trying out a new Indian spot in our hood this weekend, as well as attending Colleen Patrick Goudreau's launch party for her new book, Color Me Vegan. Can't wait to sample some recipes and report back, so stay tuned!
Oh, I almost forgot! The next SF Vegan Bake Sale is coming up on the 18th. Yay! My parents arrive in town that day so I won't be baking this time around (Hopefully someone else can provide you with your dose of white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies!) but we'll definitely be swinging by to get some goodies and support the awesome charities, Mickaboo Bird Rescue and Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. See you there I hope!

Friday, December 3, 2010


I know, I know, I've written about Umami before but I went back with a friend last night so I have to give a little update. It is just such a great place to eat well with others, especially if you're craving some Japanese-influenced morsels.

First up I had this salad of mixed greens, radicchio, pomegranate and sunchokes. Its awesome texture comes from the crunchy greens and little pomegranate seeds popping in your mouth, but it's the miso-ginger vinaigrette that really makes this salad rock. A great start to the meal.

For my "entree" I got the gardener roll (their very good veggie sushi roll which I wrote about last time) and a side of the beautiful steamed broccolini, above. They use the most awesomely sweet brocc to begin with, but the addition of the lemon tahini sauce and the crispy fried shallots take this dish over the top. I could have just eaten this all night and been happy.

So there you have it. A brief update on a neighborhood favorite. Up next? Gonna hit up some new-to-me spots this weekend to see how the vegan offerings at some omnivorous places measure up. Stay tuned....