Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cafe Bamboo in the Lions Den New Orleans

There are several veg friendly restaurants which come up in New Orleans on the iphone app but with Bamboo Cafe being the only 100% vegetarian off we went.

We drove around for a few minutes and realized the best bet for parking would be a lot, (5 bucks ... not bad by New York standards and a lot better than finding a ticket on the car), we entered the place. It's like a bar where the Ramones might have started out and later Vanessa our waitress told us it was in fact a venue for new bands ... so expect a no frills sort of place. Raiders of the Lost Ark sort of came to mind. It was dark and the only two people in the place were sitting at one of the tables in the bar and I thought, "Oh no, they're closed, I should have called," but they couldn't have been happier to see us and cheerfully sat us. Outside in the warm sun. My thoughts of the cold winter lying ahead up north far from my mind.

Ah the menu, always a delight to know that there is no hidden animal stuff in the meals and how nice it is not to have to check and double check.

There were 3 appetizers that caught my eye; Sol Chik'n Nuggets, Caramelized Cauliflower Crustini and Collard Green Rolls. I ordered the Sampler for $14 which was near 3 times the price of any one appetizer. I figured the plate would be huge and it was just a normal dinner plate of appetizers.

The Sol Chik'n Nuggets were very similar to a product I have had before and purchase from the Chinese vegetarian store on Hester Street and use in my home cooking. Since I love the product taste and consistency I was in no way disappointed. It was served with a KC type bbq sauce which was scratch made. It was very molassasy and sweet and rich and good.

The Collard Green Rolls were by far the most original and special food of the meal and I wished there were 10 not 3. Crispy breaded eggrolls stuffed with collards and an hint of ham. Great. Served with an off the shelf sweet chili pepper sauce which none the less went very nicely with the food.

The hummus was refreshingly garlicky although the pita crisps were a bit overdone.

I also was engrossed with Chef Aji and Vanessa and sadly Chef pointed out that the Caramelized Cauliflower Crustini never made it to the plate. This was indeed sad.

My flying partner ordered the red beans and rice and said it was one of the best he had ever eaten.

My Bourbon Chik'n Dinner was served with an excellent bbq sauce but was comprised of the same soy nuggets that came with the appetizer. I was hoping for something original and unique and although I do like the nuggets it was more of the same.

I asked for my mashed sweet potatoes to be split so I could taste some of the garlic mashed. The sweet potatoes were not loaded with sugar and had a wonderful taste of the potato. The mushroom gravy on the mashed never popped for me but it was a small 1/2 sized side and had only a dollop. The spinach was fresh and garlicky and sauteed just perfectly.

It was only after leaving the restaurant and looking over the menu I realized the cornbread was missing.

My buddy ordered the chocolate "moose" pie and I reminded him a few times it was vegan and had nothing he was used to in it except for the chocolate. My warnings were totally unnecessary as it was delicious.

Talking with Vanessa and Chef Aji was delightful and insightful. I do hope that chef uses more of his talent and potential in producing many more additions of "from scratch" components. A chicken seitan cutlet pan seared and crusted would have been the perfect sponge for his bourbon bbq sauce.

This place has a solid footing and provides a guy like me with a no questions asked vegetarian meal of solid comfort food. I would definitely eat here again and hope the little lapses in attention to detail on the plates would have been corrected because the food was very much exactly what I look for.


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