Thursday, June 9, 2011

One of the best veggie burgers at Flaming Ice Cube, Cleveland, Ohio

A very early departure put us in Cleveland early in the AM.  Our rooms weren't ready yet so after killing a half hour in the lobby we got one of the two rooms and went to hang out.  After another half hour the second room was ready.  That was my room.  As I travel down this road of life various questions percolate to the surface of my consciousness.  Why do things run in clumps?  Why do you tend to have similar experiences in groups?  Why do hotel chains build places to rest next to interstate highways when a block or two in any direction would take care of the noise problem?  Why do I keep getting rooms on the highway side of the hotel?  Isn't this a food blog?  Well yes but it can't be unless I'm well rested and that couldn't happen until I changed rooms.  I know, I know, I'm lucky that the hotel had another room on the quiet side.  So after packing everything up and moving I unpacked and found the internet wasn't working.  I'm just sayin', you think this is an easy life.  There's a big convention next door at Best Buy and apparently, (or so we've been told), they're piggybacking on the Hilton's network. But I'm on now so as my dad says, "Keep on comin' on comin'."

OK, Cleveland.  Home of Mr. Pork, Iron Chef Michael Symon.  (I actually stopped by Lola's Bistro to ask about vegan options and they said if I called ahead the chefs might be able to make something special.  I've had this response before and had some pretty amazing meals prepared for me but without advance notice almost everything had dairy or cheese in it so dinner would be sides and a salad should we decide to take out second mortgages and eat here.)

Luckily Cleveland has the Flaming Ice Cube.  I had no idea what a Flaming Ice Cube is.  Oxymoron?  Juxtaposition?  An effeminate solid block of water?It's a good little vegan quick and easy, mellow, (did I mention vegan), sandwich shop in downtown Cleveland and I wish I had one around the corner from where I lived.

Pages and pages of menu in plastic covers.

The place is a happy bright half display counter full of Sweet and Sara's Marshmallows, cupcakes, muffins and delightful sweets, and half dining room with 20 seats plus a few outside tables.  We scored a window seat and watched Cleveland walk by without melting.  OK, it wasn't that hot today.

Door to the left and many more tables to the right.

There were so many choices I asked our waitress Julie for a suggestion and she steered me to the Pesto Burger or Buffalo Panini.  I didn't want to roll with garlic breath while exploring and the Chick'n on the menu is Gardein based and that included the Buffalo Panini.  I wanted a taste of what this place had to offer so went with the Mushroom Burger, side of Black Bean and Corn salsa and as a starter, the Lettuce Wrap. I started the meal off with a cup of excellent coffee served with Silk creamer.  Sometimes a cup of coffee is the hinge-pin of a meal, either as a summation or first taste.  This was a good cup of coffee.

Soup of the day was a Chili.
The chili was robust and flavorful with a nice touch of heat.  This was definitely a soup-y chili.  I'm more of a thick chili aficionado but there was nothing wrong with this bowl at all!

Asian Tempeh Lettuce Wraps
Organic tempeh sautéed with water chestnuts and mushrooms, then served with lettuce leaves, cucumber, tomato, and our signature peanut sauce and plum sauce. $7.95

For the DIYer.  Here are all the components now you build it yourself.
The lettuce wraps were interesting structurally.  I'm not sure the romaine was the best choice of lettuce for the maneuverability of the dish but as you can see from the half devoured wrap below all obstacles to consumption were easily overcome.  I mean, romaine vs butter/boston or just iceberg would make the wrap more ... well, wrappable but the long thin spear of romaine worked well enough.  And the flavor was a nice umami savory with tempeh and waterchestnut crunch and soft mushrooms diced finely enough to lay in the lettuce.  The chunky tomatoes, cucumbers and plum sauce added a nice finish.  The peanut was a thinned out peanut sauce with a bit of heat but my favorite was the sweet plum sauce.

Holding capacity is limited because of the thin width of the romaine and it's a hard lettuce to actually "wrap" around the filling but couldn't escape our hungry maws.

Mmmushroom Burger
Our vegan burger with fresh sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella, mayo and sautéed onions. $7.45

What an inviting plate!

The mushroom burger on a standard roll was inviting visually.  The generous mushroom and onion topping with the dramatic flair of veganaise just cried out with a promise of deliciousness.  Red, yellow and green salsa added a fresh burst of color and flavor contrast.

This is vegan?
Not only is this vegan it's one of the best veggie burgers I ever ate.  First the shmoosh ratio was perfect.  There was no burger squirt.  It worked like a perfect "chomp."  The consistency of the burger held together like the best from my past.  Although a chopped meat would not be so fine a texture whatever the Flaming Ice Cube uses as a binder made this and incredibly "bite-able" burger.  The mouth feel was ... hearty.  There was something to chew even with the finer consistency of the TVP .  And the flavors of the burger was nicely savory.  The mushrooms added a nice mouthfeel and the onions were so so sweet, cooked through yet with a bit of toothiness.  Now I'm a ketchup kinda guy from Brooklyn and in my non vegan days wouldn't be caught putting mayo on a burger but this was so nicely richly creamy.  I think next time I'll hold the veganaise and do the ketchup thing but didn't want to add it to this and make Russian Dressing.

Packed with flavor, the corn, beans, peppers and scallions added a nice contrast, both in taste and texture to the burger.
Peanut butter, Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate and Corn Flakes for a crunch made this a nice sweet bite for dessert.
Flaming Ice Cube on Urbanspoon


dock station hdd fw800 said...

A bit too much mace for my families liking. I think I will try coriander instead of mace next time. Otherwise an ok alternative to beef burger in a bun! Might be nice with chilli flakes or ground coriander seed. I found it a bit bland, and the tomato paste didn't really add flavour but made it difficult to see how well cooked it was. But it was a very quick and easy recipe for a weeknight meal.

Ali - YumVeggieBurger said...

wow, I would have had a hard time believing that was vegan too, looking at that photo! I'm definitely noting this down in case I ever end up in Cleveland, so I can try the same burger! :)