Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Brick Yard

I love good vegan eats, as you well know, and I'm happy to report that there are more and more of them in my neighborhood! While the Cow Hollow/Marina area is yet to get an all-vegan joint, plenty of omni places are stepping up their offerings, and the husband and I had the pleasure of sampling some from The Brick Yard last week. It's nearby, has great big screens for sports watching, a relaxed (yet elegant) vibe and, when I emailed to find out about vegan options, I got a quick and encouraging response. Restaurants who actually reply to email inquiries are alright in my book! Better yet, the hostess noted my vegan note on the OpenTable reservation and was prepared to let me know all my options. I love when places are on top of their game, you guys. And, the food was great too!

We started with the hummus with roasted chickpeas, pita crisps and cucumber salad (sans cheese). Actually that's not true - we really started with a spinach salad with strawberries and pumpkin seeds, but it was so good and we were so hungry that I never photographed it. Oh well. Back to the hummus; We were both a little thrown off by the fact that it is served warm, but once we got over that, we really started enjoying the slightly spicy concoction, loving every one of those roasted chickpeas. Great dish.

The husband had himself the roasted veggie panini (sans cheese) and I must say it was really delicious... that side salad, however, is the BOMB. The Brick Yard knows what the heck they're doing with vinaigrettes, y'all. It has the prefect herbaceous dressing and was just enough to coat the huge butter lettuce leaves. Yum.

My main was the personal pizza with mushroom and tomatoes (sans cheese). This was the only dish that was just OK. In a town where great pizza can be had, I'm a bit of a pizza snob I guess. Still, it was tasty enough, and the really and truly fantastic Brick Yard french fries made up for any lack of pizza goodness. I'd go back for the fries alone.

All in all, this is a really cool neighborhood joint and I will definitely be back to watch a game or meet up with friends for drinks and noshing! Up next: One of my favorite places to dine in LA, complete with more crappy iPhone pics. Sorry about that. I just keep forgetting my real camera. :) Enjoy the rest of the week everyone!

Monday, June 27, 2011

PowerSource Cafe

My aunt recently moved from Atlanta to SF for work and her office is in the financial district. This is not an area of town I frequent, but thanks to her lunch-time text messages I now know of a few places I've definitely got to try. The other day, I met her at new-to-me PowerSource Cafe and was pleasantly surprised! This little place is serving up extremely vegan-friendly cuisine with very little environmental impact.... and, most importantly, they make their salads almost as big as mine at home. Almost.

That's their "Super Food Salad" which is a huge bowl of spinach topped with goji berries, hemp seeds, broccoli sprouts, and shredded carrots. The dressing is a berry vinaigrette. It was delicious, healthy, and totally hit the mid-day spot. If I worked downtown I'd be there all the time for reals. I was fueled (um, powered) by this lunch for the rest of the afternoon.

I look forward to trying more FiDi lunch spots with my aunt, but stay tuned meanwhile for a vegan feast at a very omni place in my neck of the woods. Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Old and The New in NJ

My last few days on the East Coast were spent primarily in New Jersey, my home state. There was plenty of home cooking going on, especially as my restaurant-a-day lifestyle was becoming tiresome (I know, poor me, right?), but I did manage to get to an old favorite and a new-to-me restaurant with some great options. First up, Caffe Galleria.

I've been to CG before, as I have family who live nearby. Not only is it in the cute town of Lambertville, NJ (across the walkable bridge from other cute town, New Hope, PA) but it delivers on its promise of being "the place where the unapologetic carnivore and the dedicated vegan can dine together happily." There are plenty of tasty vegan options - from my ginger veggie couscous dish, above, to pastas and hummus platters and roasted seitan - and your idiot friends can eat steak too! Plus it's cozy, the people are nice, and strolling around post-meal is uber pleasant.

In another neck of woods lies Highland Park, NJ and Zeina. Normally when I'm in this hood I head to Pad Thai (super great and vegan-friendly Thai food), but this Mediterranean restaurant is serving up some fine fare, folks! Above you see my mixed greens salad which I topped with an order of falafel. If you look hard, you'll see that we had already devoured the hummus and a spiced tomato and herb appetizer as well. There were also dolmas involved. It was a feast... and yet there were so many vegan things on the menu I didn't get to try. Next time I'm in NJ, I will definitely go back.

Off to LA this weekend, but I've been having some great eats at new-t0-me spots in San Francisco that I'll tell you about when I'm back. Have a great weekend, everyone. Eat Well!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ravens' Restaurant at The Stanford Inn

I had the genuine pleasure of spending this past weekend at The Stanford Inn in Mendocino, and all-vegan hotel with an award-winning restaurant. Am I lucky or what? It was rejuvenating, relaxing, and the food was delicious. Every hotel guest gets breakfast in the dining room included with their room, but we decided to splurge on dinner one of the nights we were there too. Boy are we glad we did - Ravens' Restaurant dished up the perfect early summer dinner!

First, we had the savory and smooth French Onion soup. Full of beautiful caramelized onions, and happily without any vegan cheese (would have ruined it!), this was the perfect thing to whet our appetite. Plus it smelled divine!

Our salad of choice was wilted spinach with shitake "bacon", walnuts, and crostini. I don't know what, if any, resemblance the mushrooms had to bacon, but they were quite tasty. They were also a bit chewy... in a good way. The contrast of texture with the crunchy walnuts and crisp crostini was quite nice, and the warm vinaigrette left the spinach well-flavored and wilted, without totally killing it.

My husband had the BBQ tofu with cabbage slaw for his entree and, thanks to his capacity for sharing, I can say that it was awesome! The sauce was tangy, but with a good sweet balance and just the right amount of spice, and the fresh cilantro in the slaw brought a very nice brightness to the dish. This one just screamed "summer"!

My entree was also quite summery - portobello sliders with dill potato salad. The sliders themselves had a scrumptious nutty flavor and a sweet and salty chutney spread on the homemade buns. My only complaint here was that the bread could have been softer to make for easier eating, but it was so tasty that I was happy to be messy. And that potato salad! It rekindled my love of dill. Yum!

Dessert time is the best time at Ravens' in my opinion! I mean, just look at that beautiful pecan torte with maple ice cream! So pretty, but it tasted even better. Like a pecan pie without all the gooeyness. And the ice cream added just the right amount of creamy goodness the torte needed. A real winner, if you ask me.

Then there was the chocolate tart. I loved this dessert. I know it doesn't look like much (note to Ravens': Edible flowers does not a presentation make) but it was heavenly on the tongue! Silky smooth filling atop a chocolate crust with a really nice salt balance. In fact, all the sweet treats we ate during our stay - from the muffins at breakfast to the cookies left in the room at turndown - showed off the chef's real skill for using salt in baking. As a salt lover with a sweet tooth, I was particularly happy with this... and with our whole meal!

I can't recommend a trip to beautiful Mendocino, CA more highly, and a stay at The Stanford Inn is just icing on the vegan cake. Add it to your bucket list - VegNews did! :)

Up next, more vegan eats in NJ. Meanwhile, have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NYC Eats

On my recent trip, I surprised myself by not hitting up any of my NYC favorites. Instead, I tried out two new-to-me spots. One was the recommendation of my brother, the other a spot I'd heard good things about which also happened to be conveniently location near a concert I was attending. Up first? Dojo. This omnivore-friendly spot was my bro's recommendation. Located near NYU, I could see why it would be a favorite among students there. Everything was reasonably priced and quite tasty.

We started with the chips and guac, above, and the chips were crispy and thick, the guacamole full of good garlic flavor, and the salsa fresh and with just the right amount of spice.

Up next I had the spinach salad with their tahini dressing, which is surprisingly orange in color, thanks to carrots methinks. In any case, it was a really delightful way to meet my green quota for the day.

Then I had the veggie burger, which comes with more of that tahini dressing (hooray!), a small salad, and fries. I was too full to try the fries, but the burger itself was good. A bit mushy, but nicely flavored. Good job, Dojo!

Over the bridge in Brooklyn lies The V-Spot, and all vegan eatery, where my dad devoured those buffalo wings, above. I wasn't feeling it, but he loved them. On the other hand, my tortilla salad was great.

Full of corn, black beans, and avocado, and surrounded by a frame of tortilla chips, this was the perfect dinner on a hot day. It was full of great textures and tastes and was quite enjoyable.

I don't think I'd be rushing back to either of these places on future trips, and I'm sad I didn't have a return trip to Candle Cafe (though I suppose I could try out their new line of frozen meals) or Lula's, but both were good enough options if you're in the 'hood.

The hubster and I are heading up to Mendocino this weekend and will be dining at a place that has been on my to-try list for years. So excited! Bummed that I'll be missing the SF Vegan Bake Sale though. Peep the flier above, then go, support, and have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Last Call for Bike Basket Pies!

I have been on the Bike Basket Pies mailing list for a long time, and I had heard of their deliciousness from many a friend, but just never bit the bullet and ordered one. This was, in part, because I live on the expensive side of her delivery zone, but then I realized I could just pick them up at Mission Minis, so that excuse was lost. Still, I hesitated.... until I got her last email in which she declared June to be the last month for BBPies! I checked the menu for this week: Asparagus Quiche (tofu/daiya-based) and Ginger Peach. Done and done. I am happy to say I picked up my goods yesterday and had an epic pie dinner.

First up was the savory quiche. Isn't it beautiful? The crust was perfection and the filling divine. Silky smooth tofu seasoned perfectly and chock full of fresh asparagus. I was in heaven and thought it could really get no better, until...

Isn't she pretty? And that's just the top view! See those gorgeous peaches inside just dying to get out and into my belly. Well, let's get a close up.

At this point I was already kicking myself for not having ordered BBPies sooner, but tasting it really put me over the edge. First, that crust! So flaky and moist and amazing. And then, that filling! I thought this would be a tasty peach pie with just a hint of ginger powder or something, but boy was I wrong. There was fresh ginger galore in this baby, and it danced with the peaches all over my tongue in such a delightful way I could hardly stand it. What a sweet and warm and spicy combo! I loved it.... and, as you might imagine, I now wish I had been ordering all along, having gluttonous pie meals every week, all while supporting a great vegan-friendly company in my city. Sigh...

BUT - There are still a view delivery dates before it all goes kaput, you lucky San Franciscans, you! Check HERE and to see if there's a day that works for you and then order away. You will not regret it. Only regret here is not ordering sooner. But, I'll be a bigger person and just wish the pie maven good luck on her next steps in life (with fingers crossed that her pies meet my lips again in the future!).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I wrote about my most fave casual dining spot in Philadelphia over at Vegan Favorites recently, but I thought my birthday meal was more of an EWWO post, what with all the pretty pictures and multiple desserts. Yes, that is how I roll on my birthday. And where did I have such fantastic eats? At Philly's only high-end vegan restaurant, of course: Horizons.

Don't get it twisted - just because it's the only high-end place in the city doesn't mean it ain't as good as other fancy vegan restaurants. In fact, in my opinion Horizons rivals all the best food you can get in NYC or San Francisco. I mean, just look at that beautiful shaved asparagus and arugula salad. It hit all the right flavor and texture notes and was frankly one of the tastiest ways I've eaten my greens in a long time. Perfect start to my celebratory meal!

My entree choice was the grilled seitan. I was a little apprehensive because I'm more of a tempeh girl myself, but this seitan was cooked to perfection and wasn't chewy (my main seitan complaint) at all. It had a perfect char to it, and the horseradish cream and silky smooth potatoes is sat upon were out of this world good. If there hadn't been some delicious bread on the table for sopping it up, I would have licked that cream sauce off my plate. No joke. It was that good... and I have no shame.

Next up was dessert number one and it was INSANE. What you're looking at is a deep dark chocolate tart with some blackberry jam and PEANUT ANCHO ICE CREAM. Good lord, Horizons. You have killed me for all other desserts. The ancho chili added just the right amount of warmth to this dish and when it all came together in the perfect bite, it was euphoria. But then, oh then....

...there was dessert number two! To be fair, this was my husband's dessert. One of the things that I love about that man, however, is his complete lack of a sweet tooth. This means he always orders dessert, takes a bite or two, and then hands the rest over. In this case, that meant chocolate-filled beignets for me! These bad boys were melt-in-your-mouth perfection, from the sugar-coated, fluffy, exterior to the warm dark chocolate inside. Heaven on a plate.

What a birthday meal, eh? The saddest news ever is the Horizons is actually closing up shop sometime soon so this was my last meal there. I look forward to checking out their new venture next time I'm in Philly, as it sounds Ubuntu-esque (focusing on the veggies rather than the proteins), but will miss Horizons for sure. Meanwhile, I'm still out on the east coast and finding more great food all the time, so I promise to post more soon. I hope your summer is off to a great start!