A Lotus Grows in Brooklyn


Weekend o’ Vegan Delights

Ah, Monday. Time for me to gaze dolefully out across the prospect of a long workweek but also to fondly recall all the great vegan meals I had over this past lovely, happy weekend. Highlights!

► A vegan meetup in Williamsburg where we sampled treats from three eateries: the “Tom Hanks” pizza from Vinnie’s with vegan barbecue chicken, bacon, mozzarella, cheddar and barbecue sauce (above); a cubano and the “Merckx Werkx” sandwiches from Boneshakers (the latter featuring: “tofurky, sham, olive tapenade, chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, on a ciabatta hero”); and an outrageous selection of cookies, cupcakes, pastries, and pie from the new Champs vegan bakery. Besides the food, the best thing about the meetup was I got a slew of recommendations from fellow vegans on restaurants I am now dying to try. (Just more for me to share with all you Lotus readers!)

► Stood in line at Babycakes on a busy Saturday afternoon for their apple cider doughnuts, one dripping in delicious caramel sauce. Small and expensive, but totally worth the wait. (Sorry no pic, we were too eager to indulge and I forgot to snap a photo.)

► And best of all, brunch at Life Café in Bushwick, where I had the Eggless Rancheros pictured above, which was every bit as delicious as it looks!

And now, back to my regular workday diet of fruit and hummus. Sigh. 🙂



Omg! Amazing Vegan Slice.
July 15, 2010, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Bars/restaurants, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , ,

Just a quick note to tell all the New York vegans to get their buns to Zpizza in the West Village (Bleecker at 7th Ave.) tout de suite to try their vegan slice. I had it on Saturday night and it completely and thoroughly blew my mind. Daiya cheese! Vegan sausage! So tasty!



Vegan Philadelphia
June 21, 2010, 11:07 am
Filed under: Bars/restaurants, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , ,

Perhaps the best thing about traveling to other cities is getting the chance to explore new restaurants. I don’t know why, but often the food just tastes better when you’re on a trip, out of your city, out of your element.

This weekend I had the great fortune to try two stellar vegan restaurants in Philadelphia, Pa. The first was the one that’s been coming up over and over each time I search for veg eateries there—Horizons. A friend took me there Saturday night and it was just as good as the hype. We took a sidewalk table in the warm evening sunlight and perused a menu that featured innovative global cuisine. For appetizers, we had a light and savory Vietnamese-style ravioli and taco-rolls with tempeh and spicy mayo that pretty much rocked my world. We then shared a “Peruvian Mushroom Crepe” that was extraordinarily interesting and well-crafted. I can’t do it justice here: Go check out the menu at this place and commence drooling. (And look, they have a cookbook!)

 

Sunday, we embarked on a lengthy odyssey to find a vegetarian restaurant that supposedly had a brilliant vegan brunch. After much walking in circles through the hot Philly haze, the restaurant, Mi Lah, at last appeared like an oasis of air conditioning and mimosas. I had the tofu benedict, which was pretty good but not as good as the one I make, if I may be so bold. The home fries, though, were an insanely delightful, melt-in-your-mouth mix of regular potatoes and sweet potatoes, perfectly seasoned. Even better, my friend had tofu scramble-black bean quesadillas and taquitos that were so outrageously good as to be nearly beyond words. I can’t pinpoint all the ingredients and factors that came together to make them great, but trust me, they were life-changing. (As in, they served as a great corroboration of my claim that being vegan is easy and tasty.)

Next time I visit, I think I may have to check out one of the cafés serving vegan Philly cheesesteak. Mmm.

Blurry photo of Horizons exterior from the restaurant’s website. Photos of Mi Lah brunch by me.



D.C. Discovery: Sticky Fingers Vegan Bakery
April 20, 2010, 8:10 am
Filed under: Bars/restaurants, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , ,

While in Washington, D.C., for an LGBT equality conference over the weekend, I ditched after lunch to go to Sticky Fingers, an all-vegan bakery and café. And boy was I glad I did! They have a wide array of lunchy food—sandwiches, quesadillas, nachos, chili dogs—but the main attraction is this case chock full of vegan treats. All the cupcakes looked amazing but alas I’m only one girl and I can only consume so many sweets in one sitting. So I got this delicious lemon coconut cookie, which was perhaps a little on the greasy side, but sublimely chewy and flavorful.

 

It’s interesting to note that the only reason I knew of Sticky Fingers is because the conference registration materials included a map to it. The conference (really just a small gathering of activists) also provided vegan options for breakfast (bagels and Tofutti cream cheese and soy milk) and for lunch (vegan pizza). I still can’t figure out exactly why there’s such a crossover between the veg and gay & lesbian community. Perhaps it’s just made up of people who are progressive, open-minded, and awesome in every way. 🙂

 

I will certainly have to go back to Sticky Fingers next time I’m in DC. Or have my friend who lives a few blocks away ship me goodies. Now that I’m writing this, I’ve got quite a hankerin’ for one of those cupcakes!



When a Vegan Wants Pizza …
April 8, 2010, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Bars/restaurants, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , ,

… she should make her own. I trekked to Café Viva on the Upper West Side last night in order to sample their vegan pizza slices, many of which sound utterly delicious. I was hoping to try one that used a vegan cheese because sometimes you just need a tasty, cheesy treat.

 

Alas, at 6pm on a Wednesday night most of the slices, vegan or otherwise, were gone and I had to settle. I got the Naturale, with organic tomato sauce, tofu marinated in miso, eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, and spinach on a whole wheat crust.

The crust was great! The rest? Meh, pretty bland. I really don’t feel tofu makes a good stand-in for cheese. Next time I want to indulge, I’m baking my own pie. With Daiya!



Feel the Love
March 1, 2010, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Bars/restaurants, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , ,

Apparently New York is one of the last places in the world to be getting access to Loving Hut, a chain of 100% vegan fast-food restaurants that has experienced much popularity around the globe (it’s  especially prolific in Korea and Taiwan). The first location in New York City opened recently on 7th Avenue in the Flatiron/Chelsea area and I got taken there by a date for a quick bite prior to an impov show recently.

vegan chicken sandwich

Ambiance: Small! Very functional space with only a few tables along one wall. Each Loving Hut is family-run and that made for a quirky, friendly dining experience. The server at this location was the daughter of the café’s owner and was very sweet, if not the most experienced waitress in the world. Her mother was there overseeing and offering customers free brownies from a test batch that went awry. You can’t argue with free dessert!

Loving Hut burger

Food: Extremely affordable! While most sandwiches at vegan places around the city run to $9, those at Loving Hut were a refreshing $5 or $6. I had the Loving Hut Burger and it was honestly the best vegan burger I’ve had just about anywhere. My date had a sandwich with vegan chicken that was not such a hit, but it appears the proprietors are continuing to tinker with the menu and recipes and were very open to constructive feedback.

Overall: A fun, tasty little place that I would certainly recommend. Our server said her mother is considering already opening another location, so keep an eye out for more Loving Huts to come your way!



Café Blossom: A Lovely Experience
February 25, 2010, 11:50 am
Filed under: Bars/restaurants, Vegetarian, Yoga | Tags: , , ,

Seems New York has an inexhaustible supply of vegan and veg-friendly restaurants. Just when I think I’ve hit all the most enticing ones, I hear of more I have yet to try. In the past couple months I’ve had first-time visits to three very different vegan restaurants that all had their own strong points and drawbacks. Here are some thoughts on the first one of the three:

Café Blossom 

The oft-praised Blossom family of restaurants now has three locations in the city—the upscale Chelsea location (to which I attempted recently to go for dessert but was haughtily told there was a 45-minute wait … on a Monday), a new Upper East Side locale, and Café Blossom, on Columbus at 82nd on the Upper West Side.  In January a dear friend of mine surprised me with a trip to the latter and wow, was it delicious!

 Ambiance:  Lovely! Minimal but cozy, classy but not pretentious.  

black-eyed pea cakes

fettucini alfredo

Food: Fairly great!  We started with the black-eyed-pea cakes, which were savory and light. My gentleman friend had fettuccine alfredo with tomatoes and wild mushrooms, and the sauce was perfectly creamy and flavorful (a feat of vegan cooking!) but the breaded cutlet that came with it was chewy and superfluous. I had the southern seitan sandwich with caramelized onions. The chipotle aioli was a good addition and the foccacia bread was terrific. The sweet potato fries? Meh. Pretty standard.

southern seitan sandwich

We weren’t thrilled by the dessert selection and the waiter at Blossom was nice enough to recommend we go to nearby Peacefood Café, which had a brilliant selection of takeout desserts and pastries. More on that to come in a future post. 

Overall:  A very nice experience, with attentive waitstaff and romantic atmosphere. Little bit pricy, but worth it. 

Photo of Café Blossom interior from restaurant website. Food photos by me.