Friday, December 31, 2010

Lunch and dinner in the flight levels

I have started to carry a rather large lunch cooler I got from Ebags and here are a few things I've come up with in my flying kitchen.

Heading out to Peoria I made a wrap with Vegan Chicken salad, arugula and Daiya cheese.

We picked up one of the company flight attendants in Las Vegas who had tons of leftover catering from her inbound leg.  I put the some of the Daiya on the corn chips and melted it in the microwave, tossed on some of the guacamole and a drizzle of fresh squeezed lime juice on top with a dash or two of hot sauce.
Nachos enroute home.
I had an Amy's Breakfast Burrito left from the morning, (still half frozen in the cooler), and put some Daiya on that.  I didn't have any of the breads or desserts and most of the sandwiches, as is usually the case, had meat on it.  The portobello wrap held out some hope until I unrolled it and found it encased in melted Mozzarella cheese but the roasted veggie wrap appeared vegan.  On went the Daiya and both into the microwave and here's what dinner looked like coming home at 39,000 feet.
Not a bad dinner for moving at 8 miles a minute.

Vegan in Penn Station

I did a search for "Vegan in Penn Station" and nothing came up.  I wandered around looking for something to eat, not starving but not wanting to get that way.

Central Market looks like just another deli place with meaty wraps and sandwiches.  Keep walking and you'll see the soup bar.
Walking past all the pizza and other assorted junk offerings I was nicely surprised to see Central Market offering 2 soups that, although were advertised as vegetarian, were in fact vegan according to the ingredient list.

I had a cup of the lentil and it was thick and rich and far from some if the watery offerings I've been subjected to. This was a nice combination of purée and whole lentils with a veggie flavor from the onions and carrots. Nice to know about.

I actually mentioned to the person serving the soup behind the counter how nice it was that they offered vegan choices. She then asked me if I'd like some grated cheese on the side. Always buyer beware and wary.

Sorry I didn't take a picture of the soup as this is more of an FYI after thought post.

Vegan Pizzeria-3 Brothers in Long Island, NY

I've been meaning to try this place since I heard the buzz coming from Long Island Vegan Meetup Group and other places on the web.  I walk around Manhattan in my neighborhood and ask the local pizzerias why not just make a pie with Daiya cheese and put a sign in the window.  With all the lactose intolerant people out there I think it's a no brainer but apparently it's me that isn't thinking clearly.  Another story for another day though.  I may just ask Daiya for a case of cheese and walk around giving it out.

I just looked for their website and found plenty of reviews but no website.  It came up on my iPhone web app "Vegout" from Happy Cow so we drove up Long Beach Road.  Here's the info:

212 N Long Beach Rd, Rockville Centre New York 11570 


A single storefront pizzeria.

The counter and about 30 seats in the dining area are a bit more upscale than your average pizzeria. Cloth napkins and waitress service give 3 Brothers more of a small restaurant feel.
The restaurant has 2 menus so there's no mistaking what you're looking at.  One completely vegan menu offers more choices than many of the "Vegan" places I've visited.   I felt that we ordered a lot of things and made sure to repeat vegan/non vegan a few times.  Our waitress was efficient and delightful and by the time we made our way out of an almost full restaurant, overworked, even with help from 2 of the other people working there.  I still worry in a place that offers something for everyone that I want the vegan eggplant parm but end up with regular and still think it's an amazing vegan rendition being none the wiser.

Since this was our first foray we over ordered.  Little did we know by how much!

Vegan Calamari made with Oyster Mushrooms, a vegan tarter sauce and tomato sauce..
Bread is served before the meal and it's hot and crusty and served with a big nob of butter.  No, no, it's Earth Balance!  How nice to have a piece of perfect bread and butter before a meal.  The reason I didn't glutton down the whole loaf was that we ordered a pizza to sample.  My daughter wanted a plain cheese so we got a small personal pizza half and half, my half having the "works".  Vegan sausage, pepperoni, cheese olives and mushrooms.  I think it's all Yves Lightlife and Tofurkey but why should that be an issue?  Most mainstream places don't make their own sausage or pepperoni and I'm happy to get a pizza that looks like this.  (Warning, don't look at the cheese side!)

This is one pretty pizza.  I personally think there's a point where too much stuff is put on a pizza but apparently this isn't it.
The dough under so many ingredients did start to get a bit soft, as any pizza would under tons of ingredients but it still remained together and the crust was nice and crispy.
My entree was the Seitan Marsala and this dish was outstanding.  The seitan was light and fluffy and meaty and the sauce was a wonderful balance of marsala sweetness and mushroom savory heartiness.  It's served on a pile of mashed potatoes and spinach.  Everything came together so nicely on the fork.  (I did have one bite of spinach with some grit but I've come to excuse things like this.  It wasn't a gritty DISH and even the most careful prep chef can miss a few grains of something hiding in a nook or cranny.)
What you can't really see is the size of the plate.  
Because you can't really get a feel for how big a portion this is I went wild with the iPhone camera, flash on and flash off and even gave my daughter a chance to take a few shots.

I guess this is one without the flash.
The seitan is made in house as are many of the other ingredients on the menu.
This gives you an idea of the vertical development on the plate.
Believe me, there was a lot left on the plate.
Big thick pieces of seared seitan.  Some of the pieces had a nice crunchy crust surrounding the soft inside.
All of the entrees were of incredible super size portions and we took almost half each of the other two dishes home.

"Please Dad, I'll make a funny face if we can get a dessert!"
The desserts are all Vegan and we couldn't decide between the German Chocolate cake or the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mouse Bomb.  I'm not sure it's possible to make a wrong choice.  We certainly didn't.

Creamy fluffy PB mousse.
The cake was very moist and incredibly dense and chocolaty.
"Wanna bet my college tuition I can get this whole thing in my mouth?"
I shoulda bet!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sarahs coconut chocolate chip cookies

Thank you Sarah Kramer, "La Dolce Vegan."

These are from the Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  We left out the coconut but my daughter counted out 4 quarter cups of chocolate chips instead of 3.  Sooooo, after the cookie balls were put down there was a lot of chips and a little bit of batter, sooooo ... we tried to make a crisp which is the heart to the left of the cookies.  

We also made a giant cookie.

Since Santa went vegan this year we put some out with soy milk.

Santa like the Xchankwantmas cookies!

Hope everyone had a great holiday season and all the best in the New Year.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin

This is my second visit to Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin.  This time I did meet the tall man himself and 2 others there and of course had another wonderful meal and great conversation with the staff and other diners.  The website still isn't up but there is a little more here:

Unobtrusive, at the end of a strip mall, you need to know you're looking for this place if you're going to find it.  I bet very few people out for a lunchtime, "where are we going to eat?" drive find this place.  It's not easy to see as there are trees between the parking lot and the street and it's the last storefront and you're already past the driveway when it comes into view.  It's on a 6 lane street with an island so turnaround isn't easy either.  
The menu is on a dry erase board and I knew walking in that I wanted a green drink and a chicken or beef pie.  The entree was up in the air but last time I had a delicious Philly Cheese Steak and that thought was starting to make my mouth water.  

Ackee taste.  
First we had a taste of the Ackee.  Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is commonly served in a dish called Ackee and Saltcod.  I found the flavor interesting and to tell you the truth I would have to taste it again to describe the flavor accurately.  The consistency was a bit gelatinous, not unpleasant but not a "meaty" feel.  Since this was a week ago the flavor profile has faded but I remember it being worth another taste.

I shared half and this was after my first bite.  Why can't every bakery serve a vegan dish like this?
The Chicken pie was wonderful.  The crust is very flaky and encases a soft and pulpy delicious interior.  There are bites of corn and peas mixed in with a ground up chickenish mixture.  It doesn't have a very overpowering or strong leaning of flavor in one direction or another but I found it delicious.  My friend was less impressed with this than the ackee.

Opened for display, this is half a sandwich.  Yes, I again forgot to take a picture before chowing down but realized half way through.  This is one of the best Vegan Philly Cheese Steaks made.
I believe that more than 50% of a sandwich is the bread.  This is a perfect french bread that has a moist and absorbent crumb and a very crispy crust.  The sandwich itself is made of almost a "pulled" soy protein in a rich gravy with onions and peppers. It has and incredible mouthfeel and although I haven't had a real Philly Cheese Steak sandwich in about a hundred years I would put this up against the real thing in a heartbeat.

My buddy had the White Monkey to drink which was Mango, Banana, and Soy milk.  It was delicous, smooth and creamy.  I had the Go Green!  It was green apples, celery, cucumber and wheatgrass.  It was exactly what I needed but was a rather watery drink.  The apples added a bit of sweetness to the wheatgrass bitterness but I think something to thicken it up would have ratcheted it a bit.

The other pilot with me said he totally enjoyed his tofu scramble sandwich which came on the same french bread and that he would definitely go back, even if I wasn't with him.  Now that's an endorsement from a staunch omnivore.

Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 23, 2010

First attempt at Soy Curls

Soaked the soy curls in warm water. Drained and sautéd on high heat with chicken seasoning. Removed from pan and sautéd onions and garlic. Couldn't find any peppers (arg) so the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich turned into a pan gravy. I added some fresh thyme, sage and dried rosemary and let cook a minute then added white wine to deglaze.  When that reduced I added about a cup of broth. I thickened with some potato starch slurry and added back the soy curls. Seasoned up and served over brown rice topped with parsley.

The soy curls were amazing. I had some in Portland and I must say that the west coast is definitely one up on the right coast with the availability of this product. It has a great mouthfeel. For those of us who miss the texture of old this is a very mouthfeely and chewy product.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

IHOP Sarasota, FL actually pulls it off!

Ok, we're not talking about fine dining here, just slinging hash and eggs and all sorts of breakfast meats as fast as could be.  I sat watching the pass and the three cooks.  It looked like there were three hundred waitresses they moved so fast, with such efficiency of movement: plate on arm, butter scoop, glass, water, lemon wedge and gone.  Another plate of cholesterol on it's way.

And it was all so so so unhealthy.  Why was I there?  The pilot I was with wanted one of their dishes for breakfast.  I tagged along almost as an experiment to see how IHop would do with a vegan in it's midst.  And they didn't do too badly.

My waitress Melissa was efficient and took everything in stride.  Not once did I get a raised eyebrow or rolled eyes as I was expecting.  Florida isn't the most vegan or even vegetarian of places and I Hop hasn't won any awards for it's healthy fare.  I started out slowly and gently with her.  

"Got a fruit plate?"
"Sure, fresh out of the jar."
I'm gonna like this one.  "OK, I'll have that."  I then pull out my iPhone and google IHop vegan and a bunch of hits fill the screen.  I see english muffin, hash brown potatoes and veggies.  I ask the waitress for an english muffin with margarine, hash browns with all the veggies they have including spinach.  My buddy, who usually is doing this explaining in Spanish, then tells her I'm a vegan and don't eat any animal products.  It's like I have an agent at the table.

Melissa puts the english muffin down a little bit later and apologizes as there is no margarine.  I think, "hmmm..." (that's the sound of me thinking), and ask about oil.  Olive, vegetable, any at all?  I hear her talking to the cook and I hear the word, "vegan," and think, "hmmmm..." (again), she's really working this for me.  I also hear her repeat my request for the veggies to be cooked until they're soft.  

She comes back with a small plastic cup of yellow stuff and tells me the cook assured her it's a butter substitute and although it tasted like butter it was animal free.  I drizzle it on the english and smear it with jelly.  Not a bad couple of bites.  I can't help but think of the mulit-syllablic ingredients in it and how my cells are probably bursting in protest as it makes its way down my throat.

I wonder what percentage of this didn't come from a laboratory.
My plate of food comes and I'm impressed.  Not impressed like the real world but I'm impressed that this colorful plate of non animal products was placed before me at IHop.  Spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers and tomatoes over a huge mound of mixed crispy and creamy potatoes.  I can't say that they weren't all cooked on a grill that just had a few dozen rashers of bacon cooked on it but I feel that I can only do what I can do where I can do it, so with good intentions and a plate of seemingly exactly what I asked for, I chowed down.  

The only critique I had was that the veggies were really a thin layer over the potatoes.  I know starch is cheaper than veggies.  I also know I'm a, "clean your plate," kind of guy.  I probably should have ordered a double order of the veggies and a side of potatoes but I'll file that away in the back of my mind for the next time the other pilot I'm with has a craving for his Spinach Omelette and we're back in Sarasota.

IHOP on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oatmeal cookie from Gobble Green

Another Gobble Green vegan item.  I actually enjoy their desserts although they aren't tops in any one department. The taste is good, not great.  The consistency is on the mealy side, (I know, no wheat flour), and both the brownie and this cookie are more crumbly than the traditional kind of cookie but hey, no butter and very little oil.  I chowed down on this oatmeal cookie which, and I'm no expert here, was more like what I think of when I think of a scone.  It came apart when I went to pick it up but had enough hold together for a bite size piece.

I just love having something in the freezer to microwave for 45 seconds and satisfy the craving for a warm dessert that I know is sweet and vegan.

On a 6 inch plate.
That's a bite sized piece.

As a PS, I come home from a trip the other night and find a quarter of an oatmeal cookie and the Gobble Green plastic freezer bag on the counter.  Seems someone in the house besides me likes the cookie.

Veg pot pie ... Or how to be an idiot

This really can be a hard choice.  Most things worthwhile are harder and involve a much greater effort than doing nothing or doing the easy thing.  There is no question that living as a vegan must keep you on your toes anytime you're eating, cooking, or buying just about anything.

My wife is not a vegan although she has recently said she is losing her taste for beef.  I suppose that is a feather in the cap of nagging.  She's basically an omnivore and my 11 year old daughter is a vegetarian. I keep telling her that her food choices are hers to make and that she can eat anything she wants.  My only demand is that she never eat mindlessly.  Where food choices are concerned I show by example and subtle, (sometimes not so subtle), hints about the animals and the earth and of course one's health.

I believe it's easier to cook a vegan meal in my house now than it is to cook a meal with animal products.  I just threw out the last beef stock package since we have 8 different types of veggie bases in various powders, cubes and liquids, everything from Bisto to Bill's Best Beaf.  I usually make seitan and except for the cramped quarters in my NYC kitchen, really enjoy cooking for my family.  My tastes personally have changed from enjoying a lumberjack breakfast with pancakes, eggs, sausage, ham and bacon to a bowl of oatmeal with some agave syrup.  My freezer is stocked with vegan frozen meat-ish protein substitutes, (can I mention May Wah here?),  because my wife is still of the old school of, "Ah, nice veggie dish, where's the protein?"  I used to rely heavily on Morningstar's Meal Starters including Beef, Chicken and Crumbles.

Now I have packages of vegan Lightlife Smart Ground original and Mexican flavor on the 'fridge shelf as something I can always toss into the veg mix and say, "There's the protein."  I know it's not ideal, it's highly processed but when I look at the big, "scale of life" figure it's still better than what I used to throw into the veggies.  

Old muscle memories are hard to retrain and so are some mental memories.  I always used to make this dish with Crumbles and without thinking grabbed one of the remaining packages from the freezer door and sprinkled them all over the veggies.  It wasn't until later that night that I realized they were made with milk and eggs somewhere in the ingredient list.  What a more-uhn!  I can't believe I did that.   

That's the tale of how I took an amazing dish and cooked myself right out of enjoying it by putting my brain in neutral.  I highly recommend Sarah Kramers recipe from "La Dolce Vegan."  The dough is light and crumbly and rivals any I've had with any pot pie.  I use all kinds of seasonings that are not necessarily called for in the recipe and it's a winner every single time.  It has the potential to be a filling, two dish, (read: easy clean up), meal.  (Frying pan and baking dish).  It's total cook time, if you remember to throw the dough together sometime before you think of making the dish, is about 15 minutes of prep, (maybe ... less if you have decent knife skills), and 25 minutes of baking.

Here are the pics.  Look away if the Crumbles make you cringe or you can just imagine they're the Lightlife Smart Ground.
This is an 8" x 8" Pyrex.  Notice the repair job on the upper left.
I've made this dish with a package of mixed frozen veggies.  Not this time, but I have.
There is no cheese in this but you put veggie stock in the cooked veggies and then mix in some flour as a thickener.  I wonder what layering on some Daiya might do.
It looks delicious but after I realized my mistake was incredibly disappointed and frustrated.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blossoming Lotus, My foray into Portland was outstanding!

This is one of those, "It can only happen to me," kind of posts.

I had a wonderful lunch in Portland, OR at the Blossoming Lotus and took some amazing pictures with my brand new iPhone 4.  I'm used to the iPhone 3 grainy pics and these new pics showed amazing detail of the food.  Unfortunately, as I type this from the Apple store on the Upper West Side I found out that Radio Shack sold me a DEMO phone.  Although I could see the pics on the camera, they wouldn't open and they are lost and gone forever.

So now a quick word picture and hopefully my next photos with the new phone will meet with better success.

Blossoming Lotus is a nice bright airy restaurant in a fairly residential neighborhood.  To me it was quintessential Portland vegan, with the waitstaff appropriately tattooed and pierced.  I wouldn't have it any  other way.  The service was friendly and although they were out of Avocado, which was highly recommended as an addition to the Spicy BBQ sandwich, I didn't think the sandwich lacked for anything.

I have been eating a ton of BBQ lately that has been KC sweet and it was a nice change to enjoy the smokey in your face "this is BBQ" flavor.  The whole sandwich just worked, flavors melded and most importantly in a sandwich, (we had the whole wheat bread), it stayed together bite after bite.  I never had soy curls before and our waiter and I seemed to concur that it was a west coast product.  I found it to be a "gardein" like "meaty" substance that held flavor well.  Apparently this is a dried product that is reconstituted.

Both sandwiches were colorful with bright orange carrots, brown soy curls, and bright green lettuce.

Spicy BBQ Sandwich $8 seasoned soy curls sauteed with red onion and smokey whiskey ginger BBQ, served warm on grilled whole grain bread or in a whole wheat tortilla with romaine, tomato, sprouts* and lemon wasabi aioli add avocado for $1

The eye opener in the Thai BBQ sandwich is the surprise of the crunchy noodles.  It was a great contrast to most squishy filled wraps.  With a really nice Thai sauce and a bit of a spice kick, was a great lunch wrap.  It too held together nicely which to me means that it wasn't overstuffed.

Crispy Thai BBQ Wrap $8 thai spiced bbq soy curls, crispy rice sticks, carrots, cucumber, red cabbage and romaine, with sweet ginger sauce, wraped in a whole wheat tortilla

I also had a delicious and refreshing smoothie with rice milk and fruit that was a nice compliment to the food.

I had a wonderful picture of a display case with amazing looking desserts.  We had a chocolate chai and a chocolate mint piece of pie.  Yes, that's 2 pieces.  I'm not a dessert person, I keep saying, but places like this can cost me another 45 minutes in the gym for each meal.  They were raw and outstanding desserts.  

Once again I apologize for the lack of photos.  Thanks Radio Shack but thanks Apple genius Allen for getting it all back together.

Blossoming Lotus on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Portland, OR Where should I do lunch?

Does anyone have an outstanding recommendation for lunch in Portland, OR?  Going to be in PDX for lunch on Friday and need to know the "shouldn't be missed" place and what to order.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Welcome to Tofurkeyland

Yes folks, some of us like that indescribable consistency and wild rice stuffing so much we bought an out of season Tofurkey!  We had to chase it up and down the aisles of Food for Health but finally cornered it between the Coconut Bliss and the frozen raspberries.

I promise there will be Tofurkey,  I promise, I promise but not yet.  I just wanted to get this picture on the blog of a meal that results from having:
a)  processed chinese faux meats in the freezer, 
b)  a microwave
c)  a supply of cooked brown rice in the fridge at all times.
d)  some vegan oyster sauce, hoisin, and soy with a touch of agave.

Combine ingredients in microwave, let cool and eat.

Faux Chicken Nuggets, pork, and beef.  

This is the reason I load up my freezer with this food.  In 3 minutes I have a decent vegan meal that satisfies a craving from a past life.  I know, I know, I'll be eating 3 salads a day, Dr. Fuhrman, for 3 days straight to pay for this meal nutritionally but still ... sometimes you gotta do what you want to do because you did what you had to do when you had to do it.

All of these products are available from May Wah Vegetarian Food Inc.

I shop here every other month or so.  Tons of vegan foods.  I don't recommend these as a complete source of nutrients but it's nice to have stuff in the freezer if you can't or don't want to cook.

Now onto the Tofurkey ... but first, from a cookbook I just received called, "The Best of Vegan Cooking," by Priscilla Feral, (Friends of Animals if that is important to you), a recipe from Marc Bittman that I used for a general idea.

Sauteed up the onions and garlic, added fresh thyme and chopped dried rosemary, salt and pepper.  Let saute for a few minutes and tossed in almost a whole can of pitted black olives, drained and chopped.  Then drained a jar of artichokes and dumped them in.  Chopped up a fresh tomato and in that went.  Covered and simmered for another 5 minutes.  Voila.

Does this veggie dish make up for my microwaved chinese meal?

And now for the Tofurkey, out of season, with a pan mushroom sauce, roasted carrots and a sweet potato.

Who says it can't be Thanksgiving every day of the year when you're eating vegan?

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, enjoyed Vegan MoFo, had a Happy Chanukah, will have a Merry Christmas, Kwanza and of course, New Years seems just within reach and we can all get back to the business of our regularly scheduled lives.

Very Vegan Friendly Mana Organic in NYC a Maybe

I came across Mana Organic on Happy Cow a few weeks ago and although I thought I knew of all the vegan options in uptown Manhattan apparently you're never too smart to keep learning.  Well, not really UP up town, (speaking of which I think the Uptown Juice Bar on 125th Street is due for another visit), but Upper East and West Side uptown.  Anyway, I had never heard of Mana, never heard anyone talk about Mana and it ended up on my radar.  Dinner was a combination of hits, misses, and some things I didn't know where to put.  It's a restaurant that seems to hold out it's arms to a wide target market serving organic and vegan and some fish dishes.

Amsterdam between 91st and 92nd Streets.
Nice brick walls, not as bright as it looks but there's not enough room between the two front doors to have one close before the other opens, so at times, it's freezing!

There were a few more people than in the pics.  Although never crowded there was a steady 1/3 full crowd.

One of the first questions that comes to mind looking at the menu is, "Is Mana an Asian, Italian, or what kind of cuisine?"  I don't know if that's important.  If you start with dumplings you don't have to move on to a stir fry.  Fusion cuisine is all the rage but we generally don't mix a plate of edamame with a parmigiana entree like we did.

Every single plate, however, was sent out of the kitchen with balance and color.  There was nothing just "thrown" on a plate and the care in plating was very evident.
Seitan-Tempeh Sticks, beet dipping sauce and a bright slaw.

We started with Edamame which was pretty standard.  It didn't come covered in sea salt which is unusual but in thinking about it is probably a good thing.  It did come with a side of salt shaker which I caved in and used eventually so perhaps we should just relent and let the kitchen throw on a dish what goes on a dish.

You can see how crispy these are.

The Seitan-Tempeh Sticks are breaded and deep fried to tempura like crispness although the batter was a bit thicker than the seitan at Kate's Joint.  I found the center protein perhaps overly breaded.  It was crisp yes but there was a lot compared to the size of what it was coating.  The red sauce was interesting.  I could taste the onions and a hint of citrus but had to ask what the main ingredient was.  It was a beet based sauce and so refreshing not to get the same old tomato dipping sauce.

A small steamed Kale salad makes this a colorful and interesting plate.

Some foods in all likelihood aren't going to knock your socks off no matter how good they are.  Dumplings probably fall into that category where they can be done wrong and thick and soggy but these were light and cooked just right.  The dough was thin and light and the filling had a note of sweet which was nice.  The filling was pretty standard vegetables.

Side of sauteed greens, broccoli, shitake mushrooms and garlic. (Can be ordered with ginger.)

The greens were fresh and sauteed to perfection with just the right amount of garlic to announce its presence but not befriend you for the evening.

My entree was the Tempeh-Tofu Teriyaki and here was a dish that landed right in the middling ground. It had a nice teriyaki flavor but that's about it.  There was nothing bad in this dish at all but to me it was just a piece of tempeh and a piece of tofu in sauce.  There was no coating, no crisp and nothing unusual or particularly interesting about the preparation, just coated slabs of protein.  The rice and veggies were cooked perfectly but you really expect nothing less.  Not really impressive or inspiring.

Another pretty plate, tempeh on left, tofu center.  
'm a big fan of seitan and it always gets at least a second or third look when I see it on a menu so we really couldn't resist ordering a "Seitan Parmigiana - Deep fried with tofu stuffing and noodles."  This dish was a mixed bag.  It was again a beet based sauce and with no melted "cheese" on top calling it parmigiana was probably a misnomer, milanese perhaps more accurately reflecting the target.  The noodles were a whole wheat noodle but much lighter, I actually thought they might have been a combination of rice noodles.  The seitan was an absolute hit.  It was slathered in the sauce and when you cut it and bit on it had an amazing crunch, then a meaty-ness chew and finally a melt in your mouth texture from the tofu stuffing.  I wasn't impressed with the sauce on the noodles which had a strong tahini flavor.  It might have worked with a few falafel balls but I found it out of place on this dish and a tad gritty, sort of like there was a tiny bit of halavah-ish texture worked into it.

Colorful no doubt but a confusing combination of flavors and textures.  Great seitan parm though!

You can see the layers in the parm.

Can I get to the microscopic level?

This was sort of interesting.  The service was very good, attentive without being doting but while I was taking this previous picture the waiter just removed the plate.  I wasn't even sure the picture came out the way I wanted, (it didn't with the big shadow in front), but I was so surprised I couldn't say anything in time to prevent another plate from being put on top of it.  This was sort of unusual but still left a, "What the ... ?" in my mind until the water was refilled again and the tea pot was refilled with hot water without being asked. Oh well.  Just stuck with me as odd.

The two desserts we ordered were fine.  The first was a lemon poppy cake and the frosting was no doubt lemony.  Pow!  It was sweet and not clawing and the cake itself was moist.

And a little itsy bitsy lemon wedge to keep the cake from weather-vaning in a strong wind I suppose.

The parfait was a mango mousse with tahini.  This just totally confused my palate and I think there probably would have been better combinations than the bite of sesame.  It wasn't bad but just not a favorite of mine.

I think there could have been better choices than tahini to go with the rich delicious mango mousse.

The desserts that weren't really over the top left us, for some strange reason, craving more so we ordered, possibly more out of curiosity than desire, the Tofu Cake with Cranberry Sauce.  (Mango available also.)  This was a faux cheese cake and was ok.  I guess you have to take my dessert reviews with a view that if I'm going to spend calories on dessert it had better either blow me out of the water or be chocolaty on chocolate goodness.

There's a burger on the menu that's homemade that I'd like to go back and try perhaps when I'm alone for lunch one day and the parmigiana was definitely something I'd order again but I'd hold the tahini "cheese," if I remember.  We had a lot of varied dishes all over the line of good but not really a high percentage of greats.  For a restaurant that's been around for a while I thought I'd be more impressed than I was.  If you're with someone who absolutely must have an animal dish and are ok with fish I think this place absolutely hits the target for your choice for vegan/omnivore choices.  It's worth another visit and I will, but for now, for me,  there are other places that need to punch my dance card.

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