Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two Vegan Options in Jackson, WY

I just wanted to get these out before our trip back east today.

Betty Rock Cafe, Jackson, WY

Just wandering around today in search of a quick easy vegan lunch and then a really nice, (should I say inexpensive ... no, not here in Jackson,) vegan dinner.  For lunch I was on my own and ate at Betty Rock.  It's a modernish cafe, no mis-matching furniture here.  The menu was extensive but there were only a few vegan options.

Just a wrap place, some paninis and sandwiches and pizza but I needed to chill out and get some blogging out of the way.  The counter girl told me everything was made to order so adding or taking away anything was easy.

I got the Roasted Veggie Panini with eggplant, red onion, red peppers, yellow squash and zucchini in a vinagarette.

The bread had a nice crackle and was the perfect consistency to take a bite out of and yet not too crunchy to spray the sandwich contents out of the sides.  It was grilled in olive oil, (a tad on the oily side I think), not on a dry panini press.  The veggies were sweet and cooked just right.
Perfect for a quick lunch and some internet time.
I asked the countergirl why no vegan cheese and she said I was the first to ask.  They did have soy milk for the coffee, not creamer but hey, one step at a time.  Folks, ask.  Ask for vegan cheese, ask for vegan creamer, ask, ask, ask.  Or we’ll never get the answers we want at non vegan places.

Dinner was at the Lotus Cafe, Jackson, WY

I convinced my partner in crime that they had meat to eat and he'd be ok.  They do have Pastrami and Ruben sandwiches, (can substitute tempeh in the Ruben Sandwich), and anyplace that serves tempeh in addition to tofu gets another check mark on my scorecard.  Tons of places can toss tofu into a veggie dish but once you know about marinating and grilling tempeh, seitan can't be far behind and then we have a small culinary epiphany.  I'm not sure I saw seitan on any menu in Jackson actually.

The place is a bakery/cafe/restaurant and has that physical feel of trying to be all three.  It's a nice unslick and cozy place.  There was a table of students on laptops with open texts when we arrived.  Sorry for the blurry pics but I took this one handed on my phone as we were leaving.  
Front counter filled with baked goods. Seating area is to the left.
Seating area surrounding the front counter.  It was a little chilly close to the door.  
Very gingery soup du jour, "Carrot Ginger."  It was carroty too.   Tasty vegan grain bread with vegan "butter."

A quick shot of a Cafe Salad
I ordered a fresh juice called a 


Parsley, celery, broccoli,
kale, green apple & lemon

although I forgot to take a picture of it.  It was a glass of green stuff and although I didn't think I'd like the lemon it all worked really well together.

The samosas had an interesting outer layer.  They weren't as "puffy" a dough as I've had before but thinner and crispier.  The potato filling was peppery and I couldn't figure out where the heat was coming from ... see the caption below though.  That was a fig chutney and ginger sesame dipping sauce.
See that dusting?  That's cayenne.  I like.
For my entree I ordered 


Celery, carrot, garlic, & ginger.
Served with steamed kale, brown
basmati rice, & sesame-ginger sauce.  $12.99

The dish was nicely balanced with typical indian flavors but like much of the food I had out here was a bit muted.  I added some hot sauce from the table.  It was nice to see tempeh on the menu and that kale didn't last long on the plate.

Back room where we ate.
I really like the Lotus Cafe and I think if I spent much time in Jackson this would quickly turn into my go to place.  They were running a two for one Indian dinner special and I should have ordered another dish but just don't like when food goes to waste.  The other two dishes were also rice dishes and one rice dish was enough for me.

I would have liked to have tried the in house veggie burger as that's become a quest of mine and there are many other vegan options for breakfast, lunch and dinner using tofu and tempeh.  Hopefully this won't be my last trip to Jackson.

Betty Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon
The Lotus Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 26, 2010

Where the stars eat in Jackson Hole, WY

In another life I had money.  I ate wherever I wanted and half the time didn't look at the check, just handed over a credit card and was done with it.  I don't eat at places like that anymore but if you work on one of the big holidays the company I work for buys the flight crew dinner as a concession for being away from family.  Since the Four Seasons was all booked up we ended up here, at Amangani.  Our waitress said just the other day Bill Gates was sitting out on the deck so I knew I would fit right in.  The place is typical Big Sky, Big Game style.  Lots of wood and timber, stones and expansive subdued opulence.

A view from the restaurant level UP to the main entrance.  Behind were a few seating areas around fireplaces and a wall of glass, which, during the day I'm sure would have afforded an amazing view of the Tetons.  At night all I could see was myself.   Still not a bad view.

Two views of the Amangani Grill

The other pilot told them when he made the reservations that I was a vegan and to please prepare a dinner for me.  It was a prix fixe for Thanksgiving and I was very curious to see what the world class chef would have served to, oh, I don't know, Natalie Portman?

First of course the bread and butter was set down.  Hmmmm.  I asked for some olive oil and it came with a little pitcher of balsamic.  I then noticed that the table hadn't been speared with the "VEGAN HERE" pennant so as I thought, "Nah, no way here, in THIS place," I asked, "Is the bread vegan?"

Do you know it wasn't?  If I really WAS somebody who had any clout in the world of high priced influence I would have made a big deal ... and told all my rich friends to give Nevis or St. Barts a try next winter instead of here.  Just because.  A place like this should have thought of EVERY detail.  Vegan isn't a strange word here.  This is a place where the suites go for between $565 and $4800 a night.  Seriously, you can't make sure, with 8 hours of advanced notice, that the bread is vegan too?  But ... I said nothing.  I wanted to have a relaxing evening.  Fighting the demons that lurk below the surface to remain submersed and let things flow off my back.  Aikido.

Soup this time of year is going to be some kind of squash and tonight it was a Pumpkin Puree with Fennel and Brandy.  There were some strings of something on top with a sage leaf.  Now this is embarrassing but I tasted the strands, chewed them, felt the heat well up, felt the familiar consistency in my mouth and couldn't for the life of me recall the name of what I was eating.  I asked and of course, (head slap here), it was ginger.  (Alzheimer's?)  I knew that!

The soup was creamy and tasted of pumpkin.  I really didn't get a hit of fennel but did get a hint of brandy.  Good, but didn't knock my socks off.
First course was a Pumpkin, Fennel and Brandy soup.  There were strands of raw ginger under that sage leaf. 
Next was the salad.  Fresh greens with pear and walnuts and pecans.  The bleu cheese was of course omitted but once again, good ... but it was just a salad, properly dressed, fresh and salady, but nothing really original here.
A no Bleu Cheese here salad.
 Time for the main course.  Now you know they had turkey and wagu beef and steelhead trout so I was wondering what amazing thing the chef would conjure up for me.  This was a nicely thought out dish.  It was beautiful.  A base of yellow beets scalloped in a round with a mound of forbidden rice, chanterelle mushrooms and topped with lightly cooked heirloom tomatoes.  This dish offered textures and tastes.  It was a great vegetable dish.  It was creative; much more than a bunch of sauteed up veggies dumped on a plate, yet, it was still a plate of veggies.

Classically trained chefs think of us vegans as veg heads.  Some do a fantastic job of working with vegetables, as evidenced here, but it seems hard for them to think outside the box.  Combining a bunch of side dishes beautifully on a plate is still, well, a bunch of vegetables.

Main dish.

I don't think I'd ever had forbidden rice before.  It was crunchy, toothy really, in a tempeh sort of way, (not an undercooked sort of way), and added a nice earthiness to the dish and a contrast texture to the veggies.

Now onto dessert.  I think the dessert was the high point of the meal.  I just figured on a bunch of fruit and they could get rid of the pain in the butt vegan but this was a plate of mixed berries with 3 different sorts of sorbet.

Top left:grape and walnut mint.  Top right: Apricot with cardamon and tarragon.  Front and center, stone fruit with potato vodka and ginger.

Although the flavor of the fruit was less than stellar, (fresh strawberries in the middle of the winter in Wyoming?), the sorbets were all outstanding.  I really didn't get any tarragon but the other flavors all came through and I wish they had a bigger scoop in the kitchen.

Best dish of the evening.

It's hard to feel comfortable in a place like this actually licking the dish but the melted sorbet was worth it.
That sherry, Ximinez San Emilio, was also a perfect compliment to the dessert.  

For $65, (regular prix fixe was $50, so I got charged $15 for being different.  OK), I don't think my meal was really any better than any other I have had.  The entree was a creative and well cooked dish of vegetables, and you know how I feel about that.  The soup was just a good puree, nothing that knocked my socks off and the high point of the meal was the dessert.  The cab driver said this was the best place in Jackson, even better than the Four Seasons.  I had incredibly high expectation for the best vegan meal I ever ate.  I do want to say that the service was stellar, outstanding and attentive to every detail.  That was definitely 5 star but my dinner was not.

Although nothing in the meal was, "bad," I see now why people who have a ton and a half of money and stay at places like this travel with their own chefs.

Amangani Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Veggie Burger at Snake River Brewery, Jackson, WY

We got into Jackson at a rather late hour and the only place that had a kitchen open was the BrewPub.

The specials menu had a Lentil Soup and my spirits soars.  It said vegetarian but ever hopeful I asked the waitress to ask, she did, it wasn't, but the veggie burger was.

So sadly, without even a picture to help you commiserate with me, my first night in big game country was a boring Gardenburger-ish veggie burger on a so so bun, (made in-house no less), with some lettuce and some "been sitting on the prep table and starting to try up a little bit" tomato.

The fries were decent but anything that can hold ketchup and Chollula sauce is ok by me.

Hopefully I can find a place that has mock Bison for dinner tonight.  The company is buying us a Thanksgiving dinner so we'll be going to more than a brewpub.

And to anyone and everyone following my travels and reading this blog, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Leftovers again

What people who don't live in NY don't realize is the preponderance of available food.  Any big city really has it and that can easily shape your eating habits if you have a life in which you need to accomplish, well, anything.  And the choices, oh man.  I have to go ten city blocks to get to Gobo or 14 blocks to get to V-Note but if I walk to the intersection on my corner there are 4 city blocks.  Each of those blocks has 4 sides and if there aren't 40 places to eat or buy food I'd be surprised.  I may just count tomorrow and post a comment.

That is to say that we order take out, (or depending on where you're from, take away), or just plain old eat out a lot.  There are 3 of us plus a dog and a guinea pig in 1100 odd square feet with a kitchen that is of the size that someone can barely slide behind you if you're cooking at the stove.  (If you like them it's a good excuse to come to a halt behind them but that's another story for another day.)  Anyway, you have to choose, open the dishwasher or open the fridge.  Or open the fridge first and then open the dishwasher  but of course then you can't close the fridge unless you close the dishwasher ... you get the idea.  So there isn't this expansive kitchen and tons of storage space.  Someday I'll take a pic of the environment so you all can laugh.  It's a small stove too but all 4 burners work.

I just wanted to explain why a lot of my cooking starts with someone else's work, as did tonights dinner.  Then again, this dish could have started with dried pasta and a saute but to me it's like making the seitan or buying it.  The quality may be different but the concept of putting together a flavor and texture profile is the same.

We had a ton of whole wheat penne with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and peppers in the fridge rapidly approaching it's eat it or toss it ultimatum.  I drizzled some olive oil in a fry pan and tossed in the pasta.  I wanted some more green stuff in it since when I made this dish the other night I used up the remainder of the escarole in garlic and turned it into something Indian with spices and Garam Masala.

I tossed in some frozen peas and some broth from the seitan I had made a few nights ago.  My daughter wanted Italian flavor tonight and I have a jar of a spice mix I use for that something extra.  (I got it from the Fresh cookbook but it's basically a bunch of dried spices you like; oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, etc.)  I threw in a few pinches ground between my fingers along with some crushed red pepper and let it stew under cover for a few minutes.  

Another thing my daughter loves are the TVP chips from MayWah on Hester St. after I hydrate them.  Tonight I used some seitan broth and tossed in 2 different kinds of chips, let them soak and get soft and before she could finish eating them out of the bowl threw them in as well.

It looked a little grey and drab so I took some tomato paste and some more broth and tossed that in.  Now I had some color!  "Still more!" said the wizard of the vegan kitchen.  

I grabbed a handful of parsley from a bunch I had sitting with the cilantro in a container with a little water in the bottom and chopped it up for some more garnish and here's the result.

Hope this made your mouth water.  It was delicious!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Indian Seitan Not-Chicken Night  (This was the NON VEGETARIAN recipe I found and veganized.)

I saw this recipe on tv and it looked so creamy and delicious I just wanted to do something close.  First off my Garam Masala stash was looking pretty low so I dry roasted and ground up about 2 cups.  Enough to last me way too long as I should be using this much more often.  My seitan supply is also running a little low but I have a 4 day trip coming up to Wyoming so no sense in having things sit for 4 days.

I sauteed up the aromatics, garlic, ginger and onions and then threw in the spices.  I tossed in the tomatoes and rest of the ingredients and after a frantic search for the last can of coconut milk turned up nothing but dust in the back of the cabinet I tossed in some Almond milk from the fridge.  As this was simmering away I sliced up 2 of the seitan cutlets and tossed them in to simmer and soften.  They get a bit chewy in the fridge and after a few minutes in the gravy they are nice and soft, sort of like filet mignon used to be.

I set out a layer of rice and then ladled the seitan and gravy over it and garnished with cilantro.  Even my daughter who says, "I like Indian but it's not my favorite," chowed down on this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A six week committment

I accept the challenge.

I think I'm going to use the next six weeks to really clean up my act.  I'm going to commit to keeping the exercise program firmly in place, no excuses, every day do SOMETHING to hit that 3200 calorie burn on the Bodybugg.

I'm going to move much more towards a raw and/or clean diet.  Even here in Aruba or wherever my travels take me.

Big salads wherever I can find them.

Six weeks.

Not too long.


Dinner in Aruba-Uphill but successful battle

I'm in Aruba.  I know, right, cry a river for me.  This could last for 4 more nights.  Or not ... you know the life of a charter pilot.  I could be just as easily be sitting in the middle of the Texas panhandle for 4 nights.  So you learn to appreciate the good because you know one day you WILL be sitting in the middle of the Texas panhandle for a week.

The other pilot I'm with is fluent in Spanish.  It seems as though most of the people working here are from a Spanish speaking homeland.  (Just as an aside, this will make Americans realize how stupidly they treat education and culture, Aruba is a Dutch island where children learn Dutch as their native language, then around 4 years old start to learn English, and then in school are given a choice of French or German.  Most people on this island speak 4 languages.  Most Americans can barely speak ONE.)

We don't have a car so we're sort of "stuck" on this hotel strip area near the Westin.  (Kudos to Westin for having SOY milk for my coffee this morning at breakfast!!!)  We were wandering around last night looking at the restaurants; Hard Rock, Sopranos, and a few other chain restaurants.  Why be 2000 miles from home on a beautiful island and eat McDonalds.  This always baffled me.  (So did the packed Micky D's in the middle of Venice, Italy but that's another story.)

My friend wanted Senor Frogs in the worst way.  Perhaps it's because of sights like this:
Nice barstool.
He made sure to talk to the guy at the front about my foodal needs.  Our waiter also indicated he understood exactly what I wanted and when I said, "I'm a vegan do you know what that means?" he said sure and that he'd take care of it.

This is good because the menu perfectly fits my needs by offering Chips and Salsa.  And french fries.

The fajitas come with either beef or chicken but you can get them mixed.  For around $18.00.  I'd do it but I hate to pay this much for sauteed veggies.  Well, that was the waiters suggestion.  Veggie fajitas, tortillas, couldn't have the beans as they were made with lard, (hey, perhaps this guy really gets what I'm asking for), but the rice was ok.

"Are you sure?"


"The rice isn't cooked in chicken stock?"



Five minutes later:

"The rice is cooked in chicken stock but I can give you french fries instead."


I don't really think that me being a pain in the ass is genetic but it's possible.

Anyway, the salsa and chips come and it's more like a fantastic puree of tomato with spices heavily emphasizing cumin.  That fine.  I chow down on half the basket in like, 2 seconds.  Munch, munch, munch ... is there crack in these.  I can't stop scooping the salsa.

Eventually I hear the sound of sizzle.  It's making my mouth water and placed in front of me is a plate of sizzling veggies, sauteed to a softness just asking to be wrapped in a tortilla and slathered with melted cheese.

OK, my friend speaks out in Spanish and while they're at it they take the chopped lettuce and pico de gallo because there's a big dollop of sour cream on it.

Eventually the food is redone and a plate of fries and onion rings are put down as well.  I ask our now leery waiter if the onion rings are cooked with egg batter.  He makes the walk of shame back into the kitchen and in a few minutes comes back and says no, I'm good to go.

I chow down on the onion rings with only the tiniest of question marks in my head.  I do so love onion rings.

In all honesty this could have been a rather healthy meal were it not for my seemingly unbreakable addiction to fries, onion rings and chips.

Here's what the devastation looked like:

Guide to my table.
Behind the water is the huge plate of fries and onion rings.  Moving clockwise is the basket of chips, the veggie fajita plate, a finished pile of veggies on a tortilla and in the middle the pico de gallo and lettuce 
Jeeze I hope this doesn't end up on Dr. Oz as an example of terrible vegan food!
And the fajitas were only $9.99.

A Year After Copenhagen, California Shows the Green Revolution Is Alive and Well

All well and a good. A great step in the right direction but seriously, when will the environmental folks realize that methane is much worse than CO2 and start advocating a more plant based diet?

If you really want to save the earth there is one action where results are seen in the very short term. Results of moving this country towards a plant based diet are good for the environment in all it's sectors: air, soil, and water. It's also going to have an almost immediate impact on weight loss, obesity, diabetes and the cost of health care.

We as environmentalist MUST not be afraid of the word vegan.


Marty's Flying Vegan Review



vegan tees at www.cafepr­­ganpilotma­rty
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Catching up. Vegan transitioning and real life.

We vegans and vegetarians are certainly a special breed.  We've altered the way we've done things since childhood, changed our shopping, changed our outlooks and changed out diets.  We are the "difficult" ones to our friends when we go out to a restaurant, (even though I have to question why speaking to the chef in the Indian restaurant was a "difficult" thing at all).

I've heard, "It's not hard to be a vegan, it's easy!"  Maybe it's not hard.  It's definitely hard-ER.  You know it's easier to point to a menu item then to ask 20 questions about what's in it.  It's easier to just pull things off the supermarket shelves than to look at the ingredient list of every product through a magnifying glass and to cross reference sodium benzoate with your list of approved vegan products.  It's easier to just pick out a restaurant than to do online research to make sure there will be at least one vegan option.  It's easier to just buy your shoes at a shoe store than to make 3 trips down to Moo Shoes and spend more because you "believe."  And lets not forget that when you go from vegetarian to vegan you can't just order the veggie burger in every single restaurant any more.  Many of them have eggs and cheese in them.  And the buns?  Maybe this IS difficult after all ... it definitely takes more effort!

We seem to come in all shapes and sizes and I don't mean inseam length and waist measurements.  I mean that we all are in different points on the vegan sphere.  I was going to say spectrum but that implies there is actually a range of values, a measurement, a scale.  What would that actually measure?  Veganism?  Being a better human?

How Vegan Are You?  Does it matter?

If you give up eating animals are you a vegan?  If you put on your leather shoes that you bought years ago are you a vegan?  If your shoes are vegetarian and yet you use and iPhone which contains animal products in the plastic parts are you excluded from the club?  If you put some coffee flavored lightener in your coffee in the morning and it has casein in it do you care?  Heck, you already paid for it so do you dump the stuff in your coffee cup or down the drain?

There are as many types of vegans as there are vegans.  Some differentiations are by practice.  Mark Bittman's, "Vegan until 6," idea is still a form of being a vegan.  The way I see it, it brings consciousness to food choices.  It means you're thinking about where your food came from.  It means you're eliminating eggs, cheese, bacon, ham, sausage and butter from your breakfast not because you're simply in the mood for the oatmeal today but because you made a conscious decision to NOT eat animals like usual.  It means you probably skipped the tuna sandwich or ham and cheese or Nuggets and junk on a McBun.  You decided its better for you, the earth, and oh yeah the animals, to not eat them.  Consciously, not serendipitously.

This might leave you with a changing criteria for food choices depending on how many seconds have ticked off the clock today.  Do I agree with those criteria?  Nope ... but I'm not excluding you from the vegan club.  Nope, you're not *as* vegan as others but you still have made a step in the right direction 66% of the time.  Using the old math that's still a lot better than those subscribing to a Meatless Monday.  That means only being vegan, if your definition of "meatless" is "animal-less," one seventh of the time.  I applaud both of you for the one thing that you have in common.  Making food choices with your brain.  You've added the caveat, "... from the foods I've concsiously decided I'm going to eat..." to the usual,
"What do I FEEL like eating today?"

If you've become a vegetarian who still eats egg, cheese and milk ... welcome to the tent.  You've made great strides in your conscious food choices.  I personally think you have a long way to go but I do ask my abolitionist friends and compatriots to welcome you and applaud your steps in the right direction.  Imagine, for a moment, that all the world went ovo, lacto vegetarian.  No more factory farmed beef.  No more cows raised for meat.  There of course would still be death and murder as the question of profit is always asked in a business.  If a milk cow stops producing then the economical thing to do is kill it.  Not a happy ending but think of the other side of the coin, billions of animals not being bred and slaughtered for food.  Still not where I'd like to see the world but come on, lets face it, it would be a lot better than where it is now.

I also believe that once someone starts to question their, "business as usual," food choices it's a slippery slope in our favor that they'll continue to ask questions and make more changes.

I think vegans and vegetarians, whether welfare-ists or abolitionists need to stop harping on OUR differences and start focusing on the other 97% of the population.  It doesn't make someone more or less righteous if they merely reduce their animal consumption or eliminate it.  It doesn't matter if someone cuts down or eliminates their animal consumption for personal health reasons or the environment or dare I say it, compassion for the animals ... the end result is less slaughter and less death and less diet induced disease and less strain on our earth's ecosystems.

Yeah, in my view, convincing a vegetarian to go vegan, convincing a part time vegetarian or vegan to go full time, are things that will occur naturally.  We have to go out there with our message of change, unified, that we must move away from the way we are to SOMETHING else right now.  We need to keep the light on the prize of a vegan world but lets face it, it's going to happen in baby steps, not giant leaps.  We have a half a billion eggs recalled and not once did I hear that the way to protect yourself from getting salmonella from eggs was to, (duh), stop eating eggs except in the vegan press.  No, you should boil them, cook them thouroughly, hold it in your hands over your head and jump around in a circle three times but you just gotta eat that egg.  We have mad cow outbreaks and not once do we hear, (duh), stop eating meat.

Here's my point.  We need to accept anyone who has made a move towards a more compassionate and healthier world as one of US and we need to turn our efforts to help others start to make small changes in their lives.  It's that simple.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sista's Vegan, Fast Food reaches new heights, Chicago, Il

It's only been open for a couple of months and the menu is simple and small but the food is amazing.  I made a quick pit stop here and grabbed a few things to go and was very impressed.

The restaurant itself is a storefront.  Rather poorly marked with a sign taped in the window.  I was glad I saw this place during the day because I don't know if I'd have noticed it with the well marked soul food place right next door.

There's also a pretty harsh sign on the door, "EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY HOURS ARE AS FOLLOWS: ... " Funny kind of pronouncement but what the important thing is that the place doesn't open until 4PM.  So no lunch?

Spartan doesn't begin to describe the decor.  It's bare bones functional with a few tables in front.  Down the hall is the kitchen.  I thought there might have been a dining room but the only room is going to become a store.  There's a hugh health food marked a few blocks down 95th so I'm not sure what they're going to be selling.

Dinner specials are $8.95.  That's the most expensive thing on the menu.  You have to love that.

I didn't see any online menus so here are a few shots of the menu on the front counter.

Since I had to be mobile while eating I couldn't order the dinners.

Few choices but they hit the 4 corners of the world.

Chowing down with a car seat as my table.  There were 4 pieces when I opened the container but by the time I got out the camera ...

This was one of the best quesadillas I've ever had.  The cheese and spinach were seasoned just right and tasted fantastic and the tortilla had a nice crunch.

The guac was fine and the chipotle dipping sauce had a rich delicious flavor.

Yes the carrots and celery were measly but the seitan, even with all this condensation in the box, were fantastic.  Just the right amount of breading and the consistency was just where it's supposed to be for a bite of seitan.  The two dipping sauces, bbq (KC sweet) and vegan ranch (OK), went well for these pseudo wings.

The young man in the store told me they made the burgers in-house but it looked so perfect.  I need to talk to the chef because this might have been one of the best renditions of a burger I have eaten.  As a matter of fact it scared me that for the first few chews I thought this was really a Big Mac.
Sista's is what I think of when I think of the next wave of a fast food restaurant.  It needs just a tad of warmth in the table area and lighting and for goodness sake please put up a sign so people can find you!!
I'd love to go back here with a "sharer" and order tons of stuff.  I think this is a wave of the future.

Also, lets tap the lunch crowd.  I do hope this place makes it!

Sistah's Vegan on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 13, 2010

V-Note, New Upscale Vegan worth every penny

I took a walk over to V-Note this summer but the opening date had been set back and so I was really looking forward to eating here.  I passed by a few days after they opened and took a look at the prices.  Holy Seitan Batman, save me from sticker shock!  

As the new boy on the block don't you tip toe into the pool and after you get really really busy up the prices find the balance?  I know nothing about restaurant management but seems reasonable to lure me in, have me come back and find the prices are a buck or two higher.  I resisted and resisted and then when a "Living Social" deal for V-Note showed up in my inbox I could no longer find an excuse.  I mean, 20 bucks is 20 bucks and that was the savings.

I made a reservation for 3 and off we went.

Modern slick meets dark warm wood.

Banquette along one wall.  Personally I don't enjoy eating elbow to elbow with other diners unless a) there's no place left to sit or b) I know you very well or c) there's enough room for my butt to not knock over a water glass on the adjoining table, (in which case they're no longer elbow to elbow).

When you put this Caesar Salad in your mouth it said, "Bang!  Caesar Salad in the HOUSE!"
Although I think buying a pre-made protein like Gardein and putting a crisp on it and serving it in a very upscale restaurant is a bit of a cop out, it paired amazingly well with the salad and it was an impressively close impersonation of a Chicken Caesar Salad.

Caesar Salad
Gomashio, toasted capers, soy chicken and herbed croutons. $14

I was waiting for a bite of crabmeat and that was just silly.  One day maybe I'll taste something like it but these were close.  There was a nice taste of the ocean with a crab cake consistency, not too mushy and with a nice crunch on the outside.  The combination with the tarter sauce was indeed a memory of another dining era in my life.  Very nice dish.

Crab Cakes
Blend of hiziki seaweed, tofu, herbs and spices with a tartar sauce $10

This dish wasn't trying to be anything other than delicious.  It had a wonderful earthy flavor from the veggies and the lentils were cooked perfectly, neither mushy nor too crunchy and that combination with the crisp and doughy phyllo set this dish apart.  It all just worked so well together both in flavor and texture

Lentil Rings
French lentils and root vegetables in a phyllo crust pistachio mustard $9

11 year olds love pasta in butter or tomato sauce.  My 11 year old loves pesto and this combination with a tomato base and tomatoes, eggplant and olives under a pesto was just perfect for her ... and us too

Pasta Peccheri
Whole wheat penne, melted tomatos, roasted eggplant, calamata olives and pesto $17

I love a good seitan cutlet and this was definitely fantastic.  The seitan was light and fluffy yet had a hearty chew to it.  A nice crunch on the outside and delicious picatta ... add some mashed to the fork with the greens and to me that defines what comfort food is.

Seitan Scaloppini
Seitan cutlets in a white wine, lemon and capers sauce, mashed potatoes, and sauteed spinach $21

Feijoadinha with Smoky Tempeh
Stew of smoked roasted tempeh, black beans, chayote, and potatoes orange-lime broth.  $19

I had no idea what this was but I did find this on the Vegetarian Times website:
Feijoada (fay-zhwah-duh), the national dish of Brazil, is traditionally made with slow-cooked black beans and lots of meat.

This dish was a nice stew with a background chili smoky flavor.  The chips on top added a nice crunch and I highly recommend ordering a side of bread for sopping.  The vegetables were cooked to that wonderful place between too much crunch and too soft with a very nice mouthfeel.  It's a chunky dish and the taste memory will linger long after the bowl is empty ... and all the bread is gone.

I swear if you didn't know this wasn't cheese ... well, you'd never know.  The combination of cheesy cake and strawberry sauce and mint reminded me of why I can't order desserts.  I just do not stop if there's anything left on the plate.

I don't know how I could have this put in front of me and taken the time to get the camera, turn on the camera, take the picture, have the flash not go off and then retake the picture.  I must really be getting this impulse thing under control!

Just a bunch of smooth chocolatey deliciousness inside.  Add a little bit of ice cream on your spoon for the perfect combination of richness and flavors.  Then I discovered those little dots on the plate were chocolate and mint so of course they got all smooshed into the flavor mix too. 
I have to tell you that the waitress was a doll; happy and informative and very willing to go find out what she didn't know.  (I think I sent her back to the kitchen like 4 times during the meal).  There weren't many diners when we ate there, perhaps 4 other tables so she did have the time to spend with us, the challenge being to find the same experience when the place is packed.  That being said, we had a totally enjoyable dining experience here, great food, great service and a happy attitude.  I have to say that I still think the prices are too high but it is Manhattan.  I wish I could afford to eat hear once a week but I'll have to save this for a special occasion because it was worth every penny.

I tried a different way of writing with more captions and less text.  Let me know how you like it.
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