Posts Tagged ‘restaurant review’
Vegan Taquería
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Oh my. When the special Holiday menu went up in place of the vegan taquería sign at the Venice Whole Foods, I was worried that it had gone away forever. But, the food never seems to have disappeared and the sign is back. If you are looking for a place to enjoy delicious vegan Mexican food, then you need look no further than that Venice Whole Foods. They have nachos, tacos, and burritos, all made with a blend of gardein vegan “chicken” and peppers.

My nachos consisted of tofu, black beans, daiya, salsa, and guacamole, and they were AMAZING. At 7.99 a pound, they seemed a little pricey, but I’m getting so used to Whole Food’s pricing structure that I don’t even bat an eyelash at this point. I think we can all agree that Nachos are one of the few foods that are always better when someone else makes them.  So, I’m going to urge you to run, not walk, to Whole Foods and order up some vegan nachos, tacos, or quesadillas, because if they continue to sell, Whole Foods will continue to offer them, and I can rest easily knowing I have a vegan nacho hookup whenever I need it.

Dear Mr. Wynn
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Dear Mr. Wynn, thank you, thank you, thank you for being the first casino in Las Vegas to offer Veganoptions at every restaurant. While I have to request to see a copy of the vegan menu, instead of seeing it prominently displayed next to the main menu, I do very much appreciate having an actual booklet to look at. Also, I very much enjoyed your Money Train Monopoly slot machines, and as a players club member and winner of $30, I will be back.

I’m sure that many of you have heard that the Wynn offers vegan options now. Most of it has to do with Steve Wynn going vegan. I wanted at least one fancy dinner while we were in Vegas, so I dragged my boyfriend all the way to the end of the strip. It was a little difficult to figure out where we wanted to have dinner, because none of the vegan menus are available online.  Our first strop was Stratta, an Italian restaurant on the casino floor. They had a vegan pasta dish and a cheeseless pizza option, which wasn’t all that exciting considering our lunch the day before.

Vegan in Vegas
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A few weeks ago, we spent a long weekend in Las Vegas, which remains one of my favorite places in the entire world. The first time I went to Vegas after going Vegan, I was apprehensive. I was worried that there wouldn’t be anything to eat, and did a lot of research into the matter. That first trip went fairly well, but I stuck mostly to pasta with tomato sauce (and a side trip to Ronald’s Donuts). This past trip, I had the advantage of safety in numbers. Since my boyfriend and I are both vegan, we got to share the challenge and adventure of feeding ourselves in a city known for it’s all-you-can-eat shrimp cocktail. The following is meant to serve as a brief guide of some places that we managed to find food.

Scoops!
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I can’t even say for sure what brought us over to the east side of LA, but we were right in the vicinity of Melrose and Heliotrope. Melrose and Heliotrope is home to Pure Luck, a delicious vegan restaurant and bar where the fish tacos are amazing. Right across the street, on Melrose, is Jenette Bras, which I would like to give a shout-out to for having one of the best selections in the entire city for the well-endowed ladies (they start at a D-cup). Anyway, neighborhood also has two different bike shops and lots of east-side bike punks, which makes it a pretty scary place to go, unless you’re rocking the thick glasses and side bangs like some of us, because I throw on a hoodie and I fit right on in. It’s a good thing that I do, because between vegan beer, imported hosiery, and Scoops, i spent quite a bit of time over there. For those of you who don’t know, Scoops is the premiere vegan-servicing ice cream emporium in Los Angeles county. It’s not entirely vegan, but that’s ok by me, because they always carry about four vegan flavors.
Scoops dares to go above and beyond the “safe” vanilla and chocolate flavors that are common of vegan ice creams. On this particular visit, I had cheesecake oreo. I am assuming that they went ahead and used real Oreo cookies, because Oreos are one of those foods that are secretly vegan. That’s right: Vegan. I’m not saying they’re anything you should consider eating on a regular basis, but if you are starving and in a hotel gift shop in the middle of Kentucky, they get the job done. So the ice cream had the oreo cookies, but the ice cream base also had this delicious cheesecake-y flavor. The most remarkable thing about Scoops’ ice cream was that it perfectly replicated the “mouth feel” of scooped ice cream. It was smooth, without any ice crystals, and it was firm when served but melted at a regular rate. Also, for someone who is used to seeing one or two flavors of vegan ice cream on a menu, it was a bold and daring flavor combination.
My boyfriend came along for the ride and tried the salted chocolate, which was also delicious. That same weekend we tried Kind Kreme (which to be fair is raw and organic and vegan). It was really good, and I give them credit for having vegan cookies and brownies, but it didn’t feel like a “real” ice cream parlour experience the way that Scoops does. We took his cone and my dish to the small tables outside, and enjoyed some great dog and people watching. If you are ever in the area, I wholeheartedly recommend stopping in to Scoops, which is one of those rare places where both vegans and omnivores can walk away feeling equally satisfied.
Karyn’s Kitchen in Chicago
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Dear readers, I hope that none of you are under the impression that my Mis-Adventures are in any way limited to the kitchen. On the contrary, I find disasters happy accidents at every turn. Case in point: my boyfriend and I were on a trip when our plane was grounded for 2 hours outside of Chicago. The official reason given to us by United Airlines was that there were weather delays and flights were delayed in and out of Chicago. Wrong. Flights were delayed by fifteen minutes and our plane didn’t have enough fuel to circle. As if being stranded on a runway for 2 hours wasn’t enough, United was unable to put us on another flight that day. A very rude and unhelpful customer service agent did get us seats on a plane the next morning. but that left the two of us in Chicago for the night.
Always ready to make lemons out of lemonade, we got a room in downtown Chicago and I set about the business of happy cow’ing a dinner venue. I happened upon a chain of restaurants in Chicago: Karyn’s On Green, Karyn’s Cooked, and Karyn’s Raw. We were staying walking distance from Karyn’s Cooked and more than happy to make the trek in eight-thousand degree Chicago weather (with 99% humidity). OK, maybe I wasn’t thrilled to make the trek, but when we got to the hippest, trendiest vegan restaurant I have ever been in, my mood instantly lightened.
Here is my theory: Chicago is a big foodie town, and to compete, Karyn and her staff have to maintain a certain level of service, excellence, and delicious food. The restaurant was entirely vegan and the service was warm and friendly (unlike some places in Los Angeles where the wait staff is stiff and not a little bit rude)
After salivating over the menu (remember we had been stuck on a plane all day),  we started off our meal with delicious “buffalo” wings. They were so delicious that we had made it halfway through the plate before it occurred to me that I might want to take a picture.
I followed this course with one of the most amazing bowls of pasta I have ever had in my entire life. While I’m sure that my hunger had something to do with it, it really was exceptional. Pasta was tossed with spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, and a healthy dose of olive oil. Sitting here writing about it is making me hungry. I will say that the bread was not the best of my life, but I didn’t really expect it to be. While we were eating, Karyn herself made a stop in and dropped off some flyers at our table. She was awesome, super-skinny, and tanned within an inch of her life. Not many women can pull it off like Karyn can.
After dinner, and even though I wasn’t really THAT hungry, we splurged and ordered some chocolate cake with vegan ice cream on the side. My boyfriend wisely reasoned that we weren’t going to have another opportunity for vegan cake for the next couple of days, and I decided to accept his premise and his conclusion. The cake was great, but nothing compared to that amazing pasta. I really should try to recreate it on my own.

Anyway, thank you Karyn and company, for making two out of place vegans feel welcome in the windy city. 

http://www.karynraw.com/

The Best Vegan Brunch in LA
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OK, to be fair, this is the only vegan brunch buffet that I have ever heard of in Los Angeles. However, if you haven’t been out to Silverlake to try the Meet Market, I highly suggest going one Saturday or Sunday morning. They have pancakes, french toast, tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, breakfast potatoes, fruit, and unlimited coffee and orange juice. This is all for the ridiculously low price of $10 (that’s less than 2 soy lattes at Urth Cafe for anyone who was counting).
A few weeks ago, I convinced my friend to make the brave trek to Silverlake for brunch. I am slowly becoming one of those “west side people” who never makes it to the other side of the 405, but I had read about this brunch and knew that I had to try it.

First, the cons…..
The first thing that stands out in my mind: the questionable hygienic practices of said buffet. The margarine was missing a serving knife and everyone just seemed to be helping themselves with their own knives in a willy-nilly fashion. Same thing for the tempeh bacon. The place was also pretty small, about 6 tables, so if it had been crowded, we would have had a problem. The unlimited orange juice was a nice idea, but tasted completely watered down, like that stuff you get from a can in the freezer section of the grocery store.
Those issues aside, I was very intrigued by the idea of a vegan buffet. The notion of multiple vegan food options on the same table is really exciting, especially to someone who has to scrutinize all menu ingredients when dining at omnivorous restaurants. Out of pure journalistic interest, I tried everything. This was my first brush with tempeh bacon, and it was pretty good, albeit a little heavy on the liquid smoke. It did have a really nice crust on the outside that made it the color of real bacon. I also enjoyed both the breakfast potatoes and tofu scramble, although I felt like both of them were pretty heavy on the onions. I don’t have anything against onions, per se, but I did end the meal with a little pile of them on the side of my plate.
The real deliciousness of the meal lay in the pancakes and french toast. The pancakes were moist and soft and full of cinnamon. After turning it over in my head for awhile, I have decided that they might have a hint of pumpkin, but sometimes cinnamon just tastes like pumpkin to me because they are so closely intertwined in pumpkin pie. I still can’t figure out how they did the french toast. They must have used really dense bread and let it soak for hours, because there was virtually no telling where the toast ended and the french began. I also admired the nice, even golden brown color on both sides of the toast. I still haven’t been able to get my french toast to a point where it makes full contact with the pan, so I’m always left with some soggy bits.
The Meet Market also has a lovely little shelf full of vegan staples (like nutritional yeast) and treats (like marshmallows). The Meet Market is located at Silverlake. They don’t have a website as far as I can tell, but they are open 10am-7pm on weekends and noon-7pm on weekdays. It is by far the cheapest vegan meal I’ve found in Los Angeles, and good enough that I would gladly make the trip over there at least once a month (if my waistline holds out of course).