Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tofu and Seitan thrive in Newark, Delaware at Home Grown Cafe

While getting familiar with my new office

Perhaps the most fun video game ever conceived.  
while in training in Wilmington I like to get over to Home Grown Cafe for a home grown meal.  Eating in an efficiency kitchen and trying to cook quick, nutritious meals, while economical, doesn't alleviate the need to sit back and have someone else cook and serve ... at least once during training week.

Home Grown Cafe is perhaps one of the most vegan friendly restaurants I've been in. They really get how easy it is.  Just take out the dead animals and put in tofu, portobello, or (Praise the heavens), home-made seitan.  Really, what's the big deal world?

Home grown is a casual bar/restaurant a few blocks from the college and has quite a mix of patrons.  They have a nice beer list and of course, to the rescue to see which are vegan.  I started with a Sierra Nevada Rye IPA which had a flavor you could call bold or certainly present.  I am not a beer maven but don't think there's ever a time or place, (work excepted of course), that a beer doesn't fit in and I've disliked very few that I've had.  I don't like "thin" or watered down tasting beer and although this wasn't "thick" like a stout it had substance.

In case anyone has a requirement for one of these, the Home Grown has a wall.
Sitting at the bar shooting the entrance and dining tables.
Bar area and dining room beyond.

Sitting at the bar, shooting outside, the other dining room.

What appears to be a sex toy, (did ya just forget to take it with you?),  on the bar but is actually the bar menu turned almost sideways.
 OK, enough about the interior design, on to the food.  First off, a meal just ain't a meal if there isn't an appetizer and I chose the buffalo wings with seitan.  It came with a vegan ranch which I wasn't bowled over by.  The seitan had crispy crunch on the outside and had a very realistic meaty mouth feel to it.  The waiter brought a more spicy Sriracha aioli which was much more to my liking.

Seitan Buffalo Wings with Sriracha aioli
**Boneless “Wings” 9.5
Your choice of breaded fried Chicken or Seitan tossed in our house made Buffalo sauce. Served with carrots, celery & blue cheese dressing. 
Next on the hit parade was the entree. I was hankering, (truly a word from Brooklyn if ever there was one), for a good eggplant parm but they are few and far between, most restaurants dipping the eggplant in egg.  I had some hopes that this would be the meal but the waiter suggested the tomato sauce had a "canned" taste to it and steered me right back to another seitan dish.  I love seitan.  Who could argue.

The seitan was once again perfectly fried and crispy/meaty.  The sauce was asian inspired with a soy, sweet profile.  It was good enough to order again although not good enough ... well, not so unordinary as to dream about.  I was totally puzzled by the noodles.  They were fried and had a consistency between crispy and just plain hard.  There was little if any flavor they brought to the party and eventually the sauce softened them up and they became the starch of the meal but before that I saw no point in eating them.

The beans were perfectly cooked with just the right amount of snap but I thought they also needed a small excursion into the sauce to finish them up.

Crispy noodles, black and white seitan and green beans.
**Black & White 17
Tempura Chicken, Tofu or Seitan
with rice noodles, green beans & an Asian sesame sauce.
The coconut rum cake was excellent but after half I think my palate was intoxicated by the rich thick buttercream-like frosting and the dense flavor punch of the rum cake.  The toasted coconut on the top added to the flavor.  This should, (of course with me at the table it didn't), serve 3 a nice sized delicious hunk of dessert.  Coffee would have been perfect with this but it was too late with a too early wake up call to consider it.

Coconut and Rum cake.  
The meal as a whole was solidly north of average but just a tad shy of exceptional, which is where most meals fall if you think about it.  That's satisfactory range in my book.  I also cut down on the variety by ordering an appetizer and entree with the same protein cooked the same way but both dishes held their own very nicely.  It is the way any restaurant should and could do it, offering us vegans a very decent meal with no hassles and no game of 20 questions.  (I always recommend verifying that what is put down in front of you is what you ordered when eating in an omni/vegan establishment but the waiter was most definitely a+ in the knowledge and service departments).  Next time I will definitely mix it up a bit more despite my love for fried things and seitan.  I also plan on doing a lunch of the meatloaf which is also used in the vegan burger and had a nod of approval from the omnivore waiter.

If you're in the Newark/Wilmington area this is a must stop for either lunch or dinner if you want anything more complex than a pita/hummus/babaganoush and is probably 10 or 15 minutes off of route 95.  They validate parking so you can park in the municipal lots, (street parking is metered until 1 am if I remember and who wants to run out and put more quarters in the meter every hour?), which are a block or 2 away.

Home Grown Cafe & Gourmet on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Ava Mortimer said...

I have been keeping close fidelity with my paediatric dietitian precepts about my diet and nutritional intake. Nothing from these entries are harmful so I am free to indulge.