Monday, March 28, 2011

Glorious Greens

I had the pleasure of a leisurely lunch with friends at Greens Restaurant this past Saturday. I love this vegetarian restaurant - from its spot right on the water (the views can't be beat on a clear day) to its delicious food. Speaking of which....

I started with the warm spinach salad (sans cheese). You know I love my greens, and you know they're going to be good at the restaurant of the same name! Most of the varieties of greens at Greens come from Green Gulch and they are some of the best around. This salad is made even tastier with a drizzle of hot olive which slightly wilts the tender leaves. Simple pure goodness.

For my main dish, I had a favorite of mine, the Mesquite-grilled brochettes. I love the fluffy bed of quinoa studded with currants and almonds, and the sauce is flavorful yet understated enough to allow the veggies to shine. Oh, and they're even better than the last time I had them since Greens is now using Hodo Soy tofu. Good stuff!

Just because they were pretty and my husband raved about them, those are the Bengali Potato Cakes. I was too full/slow (they went fast!) to try them, but word is they rule. :)

There seems to be a misconception that Greens isn't particularly vegan-friendly, and that was maybe true years ago. But now? Almost everything is vegan or can be made so, and they always have at least 2 vegan dessert options too (not even counting the vegan cookies you can get on your way out from Greens-to-Go). I look forward to going back to this San Francisco gem soon. Meanwhile, stay tuned for some new-to-me places in the near future... and don't forget to check out Vegan Favorites for your daily dose of all things vegan. Have a great week everyone!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Roaming Again

Last night I went back to ROAM. I do so love it there, what with their beet-red (literally) vegan burgers and crispy sweet potato fries. Unlike last time, however, I skipped the bun yesterday and ordered a trio of mini-burgers atop their "Farmer's Market Salad":

Vegans will have to order up the salad without the cojita cheese, but this mix of baby greens, tomatoes, chives, and avocado is the perfect bed on which to rest your mini burgers. I just love this option (all their burgers are available in this form) for a light dinner. Plus, I figure if I skip the bun I can eat more of their awesome sweet potato fries, right? Right.

Had some canceled dinner plans this week, so this is all I have to report. Next week promises to be full of culinary adventure though, so stay tuned! Oh, and don't forget to keep checking out Vegan Favorites. We're gonna have some mega-awesome giveaways coming up that you don't want to miss.

Have a great weekend and eat well, everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mas Sake

I must admit I was skeptical of Mas Sake at first, what with their promise of Japanese Mexican fusion food. But I'm here to tell ya it works. Mainly because the intermingling of the two is very minimal. For example we started with some really good guacamole:

So, yeah, it was really dark and red in there so all these pictures are gonna suck. But you get the idea. What is impressive is that they hand-make their tortillas every day, and you can really taste the difference. These chips were thick and crispy, and the guac was fresh and flavorful. We also had some edamame to start. Because Japanese AND Mexican, y'all!

There are a few vegan rolls on the menu, and this here is the Super Veggie. It's filled with all sorts of veggies and sprouts and was damn fine eats. I got the grilled vegetable salad too:

I really liked this dish as the veggies were cooked perfectly, and the sesame marinade has lots of good umami flavor. That's all I got pictures of (and really, do you need to see any more of these horrible pictures?) but we also had some other rolls. Next time I want to try the tofu tacos (not on the menu, but we were assured they are an option) since the Mexican food we ate was more impressive than the Japanese.

I overheard the waitress explaining that the fusion aspect can be seen in the jalapeno that pops up in your sushi or in the seaweed that might be in your taco, but really the cuisines are pretty distinct and there is no mind-blowing new food happening here. It's good food in my 'hood though, and the atmosphere would be fun for groups, so I might be back....

Up next: Some more veggie sushi at a place that's been on my list for a while. Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Old and The New in Southern Florida

I love Southern Florida for it's white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and warm sunshine, but it is also home to some seriously good vegan eating! In Miami Beach, I love The Cafe at Books and Books with it's separate vegan menu, Sushi Samba for their plentiful vegan offerings and willingness to veganize, and Pasha's for their healthy Mediterranean food. However, on this trip, I discovered a new vegan-friendly gem just a little ways north of the South Beach madness: Canyon Ranch Grill at (where else) Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa. Warning: Going to eat a meal here will make you want to book a room...

First of all the view while you're eating doesn't suck, right? For real. Also, CRG clearly marks all their vegan menu items and will make adjustments to veganize something if possible. They also have all the nutritional information (calories, fat, etc) on the menu too. This is spa cuisine after all! I started with the green salad, which was so plentiful I felt like St. Patrick's Day had come early:

Mmmmm, greens. And the shallot vinaigrette was tasty too!

The husband had the roasted tomato gazpacho. It had a deep smokey flavor and got some nice crunchy balance from corn and other veggies. A real winner that I would suggest trying whether you're vegan or not.

For my main dish I got their veggie personal pizza without the cheese but with the addition of broccoli. A great tomato sauce and the bright flavor of the basil really made this dish. And the crust was oh-so crispy and full of whole grain goodness. :)

Next time I want to go for dinner when they have even more vegan items on the menu. Hopefully that won't be too far in the future...

And, of course, no trip to the Fort Lauderdale area (in case you didn't know Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are only about 30 minutes apart) is complete without a stop at Sublime. This huge (in both size and reputation) vegan oasis is a shining star on the vegan culinary map and this was my 4th or 5th meal here. Love at every bite.

Up first we each had our own Caesar salad. The creamy dressing is just perfection and the bagel chip-esque croutons are garlicy crunches from heaven. Love this salad.

For my entree, I got my fave - the piccata. Once made with seitan, and now made with Gardein cutlets, it is just scrumptious. I must say I preferred the pre-Gardein version, but the mashed potatoes and lemon caper sauce are just divine. As usual, I had to fight the urge to lick my plate.

My husband had the "steak" sandwich, also made using Gardein faux meat, as well as a healthy topping of Daiya cheddar. Even as a non-veggie, I was never a beef person, and I've never tried Gardein's version. I must say that this sandwich was too "meaty" for me. I mean it really tasted and chewed like meat, or what I remember anyway, and I almost couldn't get it down. That's a compliment I guess? I dunno.... but those sweet potato fries were BANGIN'. I could have eaten those all day.

And then there was dessert, beautiful dessert. We split the "Chocolate Nirvana" (a rich chocolate cake with Kahlua cream and chocolate ganache coating) and an ice cream sundae (three scoops of vanilla, chocolate shell, and peanuts). Both were even more amazing than you are imagining right now. We were so full but, well....

Yeah, that about sums it up! We're back in SF now and have some plans for good eats coming up in our own neck of the woods, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Outstanding Orlando Eats

I spent the early part of last week in and around Orlando, Florida. My whole family was there to celebrate my grandmother's 80th birthday, but I managed to sneak away with my other vegan family members to try out some of Orlando's best vegan offerings, of course! As far as major cities go, it is definitely not the most vegan-friendly out there, but there are some gems. First on your list of places to go in O-town should be Ethos Vegan Kitchen.This order-at-the-counter joint has a comfy cozy atmosphere, and the food is equally comforting. I started out with a spinach salad that perfectly whetted my appetite.

Fresh spinach gets paired with walnuts, apples, red onions, and plump raisins, and the whole thing gets topped with a bright orange-ginger vinaigrette. It is the perfect combination of tart, sweet, crunchy, and chewy.

I also had a few bites of my dad's appetizer, the "Healthy Trio" which consists of hummus, olive tapenade, and a tomato-mango salsa served up with veggie crudite, bread, and chips for dipping. The chunky homemade hummus was my favorite. YUM!

For my entree, I went with the "Sheep's Pie". This playful take on a Shepherd's Pie is a carb-lovers feast and oh-so-tasty. Underneath that pile of mashed potatoes is a ton of veggies like broccoli and carrots in a savory veggie gravy. In case you didn't get enough potatoes on the pie, the bread this dish is served with is a potato-chive variety... aka my new best friend. Go to Ethos and eat this NOW.

But wait, eat this too! My husband ordered the "Chickun Marsala" and it was so full of mushroomy goodness I could have burst. An herbaceous and garlicy gravy made with marsala wine is the star of this show. I could have taken a straw to that stuff. Normally, I'm a not big fan of food so, well, brown, but Ethos' comfort cooking could win me over.

What about dessert you ask? Well there were certainly options at EVK, but we had already purchased so sweetness earlier... from none other than Babycakes!

Yes, Babycakes NYC is now open in Downtown Disney! It's kind of tough to find - it's located in a food court of sorts and without much signage - but how great that an all-vegan and allergy-free bakery exists in the heart of fast-food land! We were psyched.... and just look at what we got:

After tasting a sample of their incredible vanilla crumble donut, I had to have one. Then there was the super moist and amazing banana chocolate chip bread. Divine. My aunt loved the red velvet cupcake I got for her, and my husband ate the vanilla cupcake in two bites. I love Babycakes. My only complaint is that it that the space doesn't smell nearly as good as the small bakery on the lower east side of NYC, but that's a food court for ya. Still, I'm just so glad they're there and doing well! So many kids with food allergies these days, and all of them go to Disney, so I think it's only a matter of time before we see more and more options like this open up in touristy areas. Hooray!

Up next, I go back to some old faves and discover a new one in Southern FL. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Plant Revisited

It's no secret that I love The Plant Cafe. They have numerous locations around San Francisco, but their sit-down dining outpost is right on the water at Pier 3. It is a gorgeous space in which to enjoy some really yummy food, and my visit there a few days ago was no exception. What was exceptional, however, was my ordering! Normally I go for the Napa Cabbage Salad with baked tofu or the Plant Burger and call it a day, but I was feeling feisty (and super hungry) so I mixed it up this time:

First up was the avocado salad. So glad I tried this! The avocado comes served atop a bed of arugula, fennel, and grapefruit segments, and the whole thing gets topped with crushed macadamia nuts and a creamy black pepper-macadamia dressing. Delicious, and the perfect bright and fresh compliment to my hearty entree:

This is their seasonal special (get it while it lasts) - a cornmeal-crusted tempeh with brussel sprouts, olives and baby broccoli all atop a bed of quinoa and served up with a savory sauce. There were a lot of bold flavors on this plate and I'm not sure all of them worked perfectly together, but it was very yummy and satisfying all the same.

Moral of the story? I (and maybe you?) need to order outside of my comfort zone when dining at familiar places. I may just discover a new favorite!

Speaking of favorites, don't forget to keep checking in at Vegan Favorites. The daily posts there are awesome, and not just because I write half of them. :) I'm off to Florida soon, so say tuned for updates from the land of 80 degree weather and some of my favorite restaurants in the world!