Friday, January 21, 2011

Harmony Cafe, Raleigh, North Carolina

We only had a short time in RDU so our options were limited to someplace sort of near the airport.  The other pilot shows me directions to where the folks at the airport recommended we go for a quick breakfast.  I look and the blood just drains from my face.  I know it's not his fault.  We live in the New York Metro area and there are none of these places around for him to have gone to but one of the least friendly vegan places I've ever been to is Cracker Barrel.  I don't usually say no but VegOut came through again and with both eggs and tofu scramble on the menu off we went to Cafe Harmony.
In a strip mall.  To the right is the natural market.
Cafe Harmony is a brightly lit small cafe with three menus up on the wall.  The funny thing is, I see offering vegan options as being a sign of flexibility.  But you can't order anything from the lunch menu before 11.  And you can't order anything from the breakfast menu after 11.  That's a sort of weird thing to me, sort of being forced into a cubbyhole.  I was sort of looking for lunch but ended up with the tofu scramble.  Not a bad choice but I'd recommend starring a few items that you can order anytime.  

What is really nice is the distinction made on the menu for Vegan, Vegan option, Gluten Free, Gluten Free option, Soy Free, and Soy Free options.  I don't have any food allergies to worry about but as this country moves more into a higher level of consciousness about what is consumed I think we'll see many more alphabet letters on menus.  This is a cutting edge and very forward thinking philosophy for this little cafe to take.

3 menu boards.  No mixing.  "NO SOUP FOR YOU!"
Not that it applies to me but my compatriot also had to get his eggs scrambled and couldn't get them fried.  Apparently North Carolina is worried about salmonella in the egg dishes served.  If we only clarified what this means.  Let me take a stab at this.  "We believe there may be poison in your food and we think we can neutralize it by cooking it.  We think it's ok for you to eat this instead of just eliminating it from your diet because we have a lot of big egg producers around who pay lobbyists a lot of money to influence our politicians to put stupid laws like this on the books."  I have mixed feelings about whether we should regulate how people eat.  I don't have mixed feelings about making sure information, in a usable form, is disseminated in a very simple and understandable format to people who don't necessarily read nutrition newsletters, (like me), every day.

I think such warnings should be like ... mmmmm ... "Hey, there's a lot of salt in this dish and that will raise your blood pressure and burst your blood vessels and either kill you or paralyze you so you'll only be able to walk in tiny circles," or, "Hey, this drink is very sweet and the sugar will mess up your insides and cause you to have to stick yourself with needles for the rest of your life or the fake sugar will give you cancer and your body will start to eat itself until you die."

That might start a small shift in the way people nourish themselves.  I don't know.  Worth a try in my book.
I bet even on a rainy day this place has a sunny and bright feel to it.

Lots of non vegan and non vegetarian options.  What's really nice is they're all very very clearly marked.
Half eaten before I realized I needed a picture.  Nothing like cheese-y, sausage-y, tofu-y scramble with veggies.
Even though everything is marked I still asked what kind of cheese, (Daiya), and what kind of sausage, (Litelife).  Both of course are vegan.  The dish is scrambled tofu, (no cubes here), mushrooms, peppers, and spinach.  The mushrooms really bolstered the earthy flavor, the Daiya added that creaminess and the sausage gave it a heartiness.  This was a good dish.  I don't think tofu scramble can be "bad" but some are better than others.  There were roasted cherry tomatoes and orange slices on the plate.

For a drink I ordered 2 8oz glasses of OJ.  The pricing is a bit weird.  8 oz is $2.99.  32 oz is $10.99.  Who drinks 4 cups of anything?  Anyway, that's why I ordered 2 glasses.  But, and here's the eyebrow raiser, it came in one 16 oz glass.  But I'm a sucker if the OJ is fresh squeezed.  I couldn't care less if I never tasted OJ from a carton again...unless it's going into one of my world famous smoothies.

I had a great meal here and highly recommend the locals support such an innovative place.  I saw on the website there is live music there too so all they need is some seitan wings to go with their wine and beer and they can stay open and busy until 4AM.
Cafe Harmony` on Urbanspoon

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