Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Spiral Diner, Dallas, TX

You'd probably drive right by it if you didn't know you should be looking for it but Spiral Diner and Bakery is where my culinary vegan mind turns when I see a trip to Dallas.  I'll review food from here until ... well, seriously, until the cows come home.  
The interior space isn't what I would call warm and fuzzy, except if you take philosophy into account, but more spartan if not utilitarian.

There is a sort of '50s look to it and it's a biiiig space for the amount of tables.  The lunch counter is to the left.
Booths line the windows and it's bright and sunny.  The self serve beverage and condiment bar is to the far left.
The sign on the hostess station basically says grab a menu and a seat and we'll come over and say hi.

I get to the diner and my mind goes to that zen place that only vegans can know of when they are in a place that doesn't require 40 questions to order.  It's somewhat of a meditative state.  I look at the menu, and know I have to go for the Philly Cheez Steak although BBQ and Jerk flavored tofu and seitan also are setting their hooks into my palate.  It's my go to comfort food meal.  

I am craving a salad and the special has about 20 ingredients in it and I also cave in and order a smoothie.  Cave in you say?  Yeah, I make a smoothie at home about 4 times a week so paying for something I make with no thought or effort is always something I have to push through but I want it so order it.  (Wahhhhhh).  

Real Smooth Smoothie with Orange Juice, (choice of apple),  soy milk, (choice of almond), banana, strawberry, blueberry and pineapple.  16 oz for $4.50.  Ok, at that price how could I not order it.
So I'm sipping my smoothie, wandering around the restaurant, checking out the shelves, grabbing a copy of John Robbins' "Diet for a Small Planet."  I see a little sign that says all employees are required to read this book before starting work and since it's on my "To Read" list anyway I pick it up.  I start to read the forward by Dean Ornish, a semi folk hero of mine due to all the work he's done in REVERSING heart disease ... and my phone rings.  Here is where you might start to understand some of the pressure of being a charter pilot.

The passengers want to leave in 1 hour and 15 minutes.  I stammer through a lame explanation of why we might, just might not be able to do that exactly on time, grab a waitress, (well, not literally of course), tell her I have to be a work THREE hours early and I need everything to go NOW.  I hate to rush and hate to rush others so my apologies but man you guys had me out of there in like, 4 minutes!  Thank you so much for that.

Fast forward a few hours of sweating on a 99 degree ramp at Love Field, running back and forth to the airplane and the computers in the flight planning room, numerous phone calls about runway lengths, airport elevation and temperature and performance, (not only 3 hours earlier but a totally different airport with a runway too short to depart and come back to NY nonstop which required a lot more planning), and a short flight through choppy air with little baby bouncy thunderstorm type cloud build ups, (typical summer day of building cumulus clouds in Texas), and in a small terminal building in Vernon, Tx finally open my Philly Cheez Steak Sandwich.

I went outside to get some natural light on the sandwich.  Half the bread on the left side is flipped over and you can see the seitan, cheese, peppers, onions and tomatoes.
At this point it does look like the bread to filling ratio is excessive but I did have some bites where the seitan and filling ratio were reversed.  This is what it's like to wolf down a sandwich in an airport waiting room over a magazine strewn coffee table.

Philly Cheez loads of our marinated and grilled seitan with melted cheez and grilled red bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and olives on a hoagie bun. get it TEXAS STYLE–grilled seitan, cheez, fresh onions and BBQ sauce. $7.95  

See what I mean?  How can you go wrong.  I have to admit though, in my haste to inhale this creamy meaty deliciousness on a hero roll I forgot to put on the BBQ sauce I ordered on the side.  Still, every bite reminded me of what a Philly Cheese Steak used to taste like.

The phone rings and the passengers are 6 minutes out.  Fire up the plane, do what we do best and about an hour and a half later, somewhere near Beckley, WV at 39,000 feet I dug my salad out from under a suitcase in the luggage area and opened it up.

I can't even remember all that was in it but I finished the whole box.

I remember there were mixed greens, avocado, cucumber, squash, chick peas, strawberry, carrots, I think some fennel and mint and a fantastic balsamic dressing.

Airline food never tasted so good.  

I can't wait for my next trip to Dallas with hopefully no fire drills, and a leisurely sit down at the Spiral Diner.

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