Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Birthday Lunch At Garden Grille

On my birthday, I dined at Garden Grille in Pawtucket, Rhode Island with my family, before picking up my birthday cake next door at Wildflour Vegan Bakery. We had a coupon from the Entertainment book to use, which gave us a whopping $6 discount. We began the meal with one of my favorite appetizers: the Nachos made vegan ($10).

While these aren't the best nachos I've had, they certainly are delicious. Everything from the guacamole down to the chips tasted homemade and the seasonings were phenomenal. There was a very moderate spice, made even more intense by the fairly large slices of jalapeno peppers. The guacamole was smooth and creamy on top of the crunchy chips, which were coated with perfectly melty daiya cheese. There were also some wonderful black beans, which gave the dish a savory taste. I wish the nachos had some taco meat, as this would have taken it over the top.

Next, I had Harvest Wrap ($9) as my entree. I had enjoyed this so much on my prior visit, I knew I had to order it again.

This was as amazing as I remembered it to be. It combined all of my favorite Thanksgiving flavors in a delicate wrap. The portion was gigantic and very filling. It consisted of savory tempeh sausage stuffing, which was a lovely contrast to the sweet cranberry sauce. There was a lovely cashew creme sauce which was not only very scrumptious, but added moisture to the stuffing, which was a little dry on its own.

Lastly, I tried the wrap my mom ordered, which was a special for the day.

This was also very enjoyable. It had wonderful Asian flavors, from the sweet, glazed tofu to the tangy, creamy slaw. There was a fantastic spice coating everything and the fillings were seasoned beautifully.

The meal was fabulous and such a great way to start my birthday. Everything was very tasty and the dishes were eclectic. I only wish this place was closer, so I could enjoy it more often,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Safe Choice At Sabra

Sabra restaurant in Newton, MA is always a safe bet for a delicious meal that is sure to please Omnivores and Vegans alike. They have a small section for Vegetarians that mostly consists of vegan items. Luckily, they rarely use egg and dairy in their dishes, only when necessary. They are also very open about the ingredients in the food and are quick to answer which ones are in fact vegan. The dinner is never very crowded and when we go, we are in fact the only diners in the restaurant. Their lunch buffet is way busier, as it consists of many options at a very low price.

We began the meal with the Falafel appetizer ($7).

The appetizer was fantastic. The balls were very crispy on the outside and were soft and moist inside. There was a generous coating of hummus, which added a light, savory flavor and a mild spice.

Next, I had my favorite entree, the Pumpkin Kibbee ($13).

The pumpkin kibbee was almost like a Mediterranean lasagna, with each layer having its own unique flavor. The pumpkin was soft and crumbly and had a lovely sweetness. The spinach interior was well-cooked and sauteed and coated in a light spice. The accompanying salad was delicious and the dressing had a strong herb taste and was very salty.

Lastly, I tried my dad's entree, the Vegetarian Mousaka ($13).

The mousaka was wonderful, although Sabra's version is more of a stir-fry than a Greek lasagna. The eggplant was soft and well-cooked and coated in delectable seasonings. The accompanying rice had a lovely chickpea concoction that had a light tomato flavor.

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. Everything was tasty and composed of Authentic Mediterranean spices and flavorings. We used a $10 gift certificate, which made the meal a little cheaper. The entrees are on the pricey side, but well worth it. I will definitely return on my next visit to Boston.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Finding My Inner Peace At Prana

On my first night back in Boston for the holidays, my parents and I dined at Prana in Newton, a cafe that is attached to a yoga studio of the same name. The cafe recently reopened a few months ago under new ownership. While it was previously a raw vegan restaurant, it now serves as a vegan raw and cooked fusion cafe. The menu is very diverse and has an upscale atmosphere with white table cloths. Prana recently offered a deal on groupon for $15 for $30 worth of food and drink. Of course, we had to snatch a couple of vouchers, since the restaurant is very pricey.

We began the meal with a bowl of complimentary kale chips, brought over by our waitress.

The kale chips were very crispy and perfectly salted. They were made even better by a light coating of sesame seeds.

Next, we ordered a Naan Pizza ($10) to share as an appetizer.

The pizza was delicious and was a wonderful fusion of Indian and Italian cuisine. The bread was thin and a little tougher to chew than typical pizza crust. It was coated with Indian seasonings and spices. The   marinara sauce was sweet and spread thinly, with the melty daiya cheese mixed in. The vegetables were cooked very well and were very flavorful.

Next, our entrees came out. I had the Zucchini Lasagna ($16) warmed.

The lasagna was incredible. It tasted way better warmed than raw, which may defeat the purpose, but I didn't care. The zucchini noodles were soft and easy to chew and mimicked lasagna noodles perfectly. The tomato sauce was rich and creamy, along with the layers of heavenly ricotta cheese. The accompanying salad was very good, yet did not really go well with the lasagna. The dressing was very tangy and had a subtle citrusy flavor. It seemed more fitting for an Asian dish.

Next, I tried my dad's entree. He ordered the Grain Bowl ($14).

I had no idea what this was, but it was very delicious and healthy. The grains looked a little bland from afar, but they were actually quite tasty and were seasoned beautifully. The cream sauce on top took it over the top and had a lovely mixture of sweet and savory flavors.

Last but not least, we ordered a Cheesecake ($9) to share for dessert.

The cheesecake was very fruity, with a sorbet-like topping, which had a slightly tart flavor. The cheesecake itself had a very creamy consistency and was very rich and decadent. Prana did an excellent job at replicating the non-vegan version.

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. I always appreciate it when restaurants have diverse and innovative food options that I cannot find elsewhere, no matter how hard I try. The naan pizza was a real winner, along with the not-so-raw lasagna. With the groupon voucher, we spent about $65 (including tax and tip). This was an expensive meal, but so worth it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A SLO Lunch At Me And Z's

After a long drive from Los Angeles to visit my friend in San Luis Obispo, we decided to have a leisurely lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Grover Beach called Me And Z's. My friend had called them earlier after finding a coupon on Bazomb for a buy one get one free entree. She inquired if they had any vegan options, in which the hostess had responded that the vegetable burrito could easily be made vegan without cheese, as the rice and beans did not contain animal ingredients. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with smiles, which seemed to be fitting for a small town restaurant. The waitress brought us some complimentary chips and salsa almost immediately after we were seated and replenished it when she saw how famished we all were. 

My friend and I both ordered the vegetable burrito ($8.50), while her brother ordered a meaty soup. Since our dishes came with the meaty soup, the waitress gave her brother an even larger portion. I would have preferred her to have given us a salad or some extra rice, but I guess they aren't used to having vegan customers. 

The burrito was pretty good. Honestly, I've had way better burritos and the ingredients were definitely lacking. It would have been nice for them to have at least put some grilled tofu in there to spice things up. The fillings were the standard rice and beans and grilled vegetables. Nevertheless, the sauce coating the burrito was very scrumptious and more than made up for the stingy fillings. It had a lovely spiciness with a very subtle sweetness from the tomatoes. 

Overall, I found the meal to be decent. It isn't too often I'm able to eat at a regular Mexican restaurant, since so many use lard or chicken sauce in their ingredients. I appreciated the festive atmosphere and traditional Mexican music playing on the stereo. In addition, since Grover Beach is such a small town with just a tiny percentage of vegan residents, it is quite difficult to find vegan food. I am grateful that this place is so accommodating and that they offer a fabulous discount. The meal came out to about $9, with tax and tip, which is a great deal, considering how filling the food was. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Fast And Fresh Meal At Fresh East

Fresh East is a great place to visit if you want a quick, healthy meal for a low, reasonable price. It's got a great, relaxing vibe that's a great place to chill day or night. Even better, starting at dinnertime, they offer a fantastic happy hour and even provide entertainment. I visited them last week for a post-workout lunch and to use up an expiring LA Voice Deals voucher I had bought for $7 for $15 worth of food. I opted to try something new and was oddly craving a curry dish.

I started the meal off with a bowl of red lentil soup ($4).

The soup was delicious. It was perfectly spiced and the lentils were not too overpowering. They were balanced out well by the taste of ginger and tomatoes. The soup was hearty and easy to digest.

For my main course, I ordered the Coconut Water Curry with tofu ($10).

I found this dish to be mediocre. The curry was way too spicy. I have a fairly high tolerance for spicy food, yet found the dish to be very intense and difficult to eat. The sauce was also very dry and flaky. I prefer sauces that soak the dish and mix well with the accompanying rice. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the tofu and found it to be cooked perfectly. It was slightly chewy on the outside and soft and luscious on the inside.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with the meal. It's odd that the curry sauce on my entree was so overpowering, as this sharply contrasts my first experience at the restaurant with a very bland dish. It's interesting to experience these two extremes and demonstrates the lack of consistency at Fresh East. I would not recommend this dish, but since they have expanded their menu, I am hoping to find a dish I really enjoy. The meal was very inexpensive at only $7 and was quite filling. I appreciate that the food is healthy and left me feeling energized afterward.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Some Real Good Food At Real Food Daily

One of my favorite restaurants of all-time is Real Food Daily. Unfortunately, the prices are pretty expensive and they don't offer any deals. Nevertheless, if you sign up for their birthday club, you receive a fantastic card that gives you $10 off a $20 purchase. Since my birthday is coming up, I was able to take advantage of this offer and dined out with a friend who was also celebrating his birthday.

We were both craving Mexican food, so we decided to share two Mexican themed entrees. The first was the Supreme Burrito ($13), which we ordered wet with ranchero sauce.

The burrito was delicious and one of the best I've had. It was very thick and loaded with tons of ingredients, from the crispy, perfectly salted tempeh bacon to the creamy, luscious cashew cheese. The black beans added a wonderful savory flavor and the spanish rice was well-seasoned with a mild spice. The avocado added a lovely richness to the entree. The ranchero sauce on top was very scrumptious and also added a light spiciness. The accompanying salad was very good and was coated in a creamy ranch-like dressing.

Next, we shared the Papas and Beer Special ($16).

The enchiladas were delicious. They were filled with a moderately spiced, smooth potato mixture and savory seitan pieces. The enchilada was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and delectable on the inside. There was a thin layer of sour cream, which had a very subtle sweetness to it. Scattered around the enchiladas were crunchy, slightly salty pieces of fried onions. The dish was made even better by a wonderfully seasoned rice pilaf concoction and succulent slabs of well-cooked plantains.

We needed to end the meal with something sweet, so we ordered the faux-stess cupcake ($3.75).

I haven't had a hostess in years, but I found Real Food Daily's version to be way better. It had a richer, chocolatey flavor and didn't have the gross, chemical taste that hostesses have. The cake was very moist and the cream was very decadent. The flavors were sweet, but not overly so. There was a slight bitter taste that balanced out the sweetness perfectly.

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. Everything was so flavorful and had such a great mixture of textures. I would eat at Real Food Daily way more often if it was a little cheaper or if they had more frequent deals. Nevertheless, with the birthday coupon, the meal cost about $14 a person. I'm already looking forward to my birthday next year, knowing I will be able to eat at Real Food Daily for fairly cheap. If you haven't signed up for their birthday club, you are totally missing out and need to do so ASAP. You can sign up at the restaurant or on their website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hitting The Gold At Golden China

Golden China is one of those places that reeks of meat and fish, so you would never think they have an amazing vegan menu. Finding vegan Chinese food in LA poses quite a challenge, as there are not nearly enough options. It's odd that many of the restaurants that I've come to discover, I've found on either or a groupon-like website. I'm sure there's way more of them out there that I have still yet to hear about. Anyways, Golden China is one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. Their food is top notch and the servers are so cute and friendly.

We began the meal with some Hot and Sour Soup ($6.55).

This soup is delicious and I always look forward to ordering this when I go to Golden China. The soup is very tangy and is perfectly spiced with a very subtle sweetness. The broth has a savory, beefy flavoring. The tofu and vegetables are soft and delectable.

Next, we deviated from our normal appetizer order of egg rolls to try some Fried Bean Curd ($8).

This was very enjoyable. The batter had a slightly sweet flavor and was a little crispy. The inside was soft and delicate and easy to chew. It was accompanied by a wonderful dipping sauce that had a slightly tangy flavor.

Next, our entrees came out. I first tried the Chicken Broccoli ($11).

The chicken was slightly chewy and a little spongy. The broccoli was cooked well and easy to eat. The dish was bathed in a lovely beany sauce and had a bitter taste.

Next, I had one of my favorites: House Vegetable Pan Fried Noodle On Sizzling Plate ($12).

I love how there was such a varied consistency with the noodles in this dish. Some of them had been soaked in the sauce for so long that they became soft and slurpy. The noodles on top were very crispy and crunchy. The vegetables were stir-fried very well and seasoned to perfection.

Lastly, I had the Curry Vegetarian Duck ($12).

This was fantastic. The sauce was very scrumptious and worked very well with the meaty pieces of soy duck. It was perfectly salted and had a slight bitter flavor and a moderate spice.

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. I loved all of the dishes we chose and even with three of us eating, we still could barely finish. I appreciate that the portions are so generous, so we could all fully enjoy each dish. The meal was also fairly inexpensive with the $25 gift certificate and cost less than $13 a person (with tax and tip). I cannot wait to return next month.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Consistency At Rahel Ethiopian

Not many places are as consistently good as Rahel Ethiopian, having both amazing service and delicious food. The prices are also very reasonable, as the restaurant participates in several coupon programs from the Entertainment booklet to Groupon-like sites. The best deal is of course the $25 gift certificate. On a rainy Sunday, my friend and I ventured there, as she had never been to Ethiopian town. While many of the restaurants of vegan-friendly, Rahel is a must, since it is the only establishment that is completely vegan. On this visit, we ordered the Millennium Special ($30), which is a favorite of mine, since it includes dessert. To start the meal off, we placed an order of two sambussas ($5).

The sambussas are wonderful and sadly the only appetizers offered at Ethiopian restaurants. They are so perfectly flaky on the outside, with a luscious, delectable curry on the inside. 

Next, the main course came out. This was just as lovely as I remembered it to be.

This was such a wonderful sampler and a fantastic way to experience all that Ethiopian cuisine has to offer. There was a lovely array of curries that varied in both tastes and textures. There was a great mixture of sweet and savory flavorings. What's perfect about this platter is that nothing is too spicy, yet the food is so well-seasoned and has just the right amount of spice to keep you wanting more. 

Lastly, our dessert came out. Usually, Rahel offers a delectable vegan cheesecake. On this past visit, they brought out some vegan baklava.

Baklava is typically a Mediterranean dessert, so I was a bit surprised to see this at an authentic Ethiopian restaurant. Nevertheless, this was my first time eating the vegan version of this dessert and it was delicious. It was flaky and crispy with a lovely pistachio taste. My only complaint is that it was a little dry and could have used some syrup to add both moisture and sweetness. 

Overall, the meal was very enjoyable. My friend was delighted to discover both a new cuisine and restaurant she now adored. The meal was also very inexpensive and cost us each less than $10 (with tax and tip). We were both stuffed beyond capacity and as we left the restaurant, it felt like our stomachs were about to explode. Nevertheless, I was able to digest the food fairly quickly and did not feel sick at all. I cannot wait to return to Rahel, knowing that the food will be just as delicious and we will be welcomed with open arms. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Pre-Thanksgiving Meal At Madeleine Bistro

Thanksgiving came early for me this year, as a friend and I ventured to Madeleine Bistro the Saturday before Thanksgiving to try out prep ourselves for the big day. Madeleine Bistro had an amazing holiday platter, featuring Thanksgiving favorites. Fortunately, I had purchased a few $20 gift vouchers for $10 through an online promotion the restaurant was doing. This made the expensive meal a bit more reasonable, thus making it blog-worthy.

Since the restaurant was super crowded, we had to wait a long while for our entrees to come out. When it came out, it was lukewarm and not as enjoyable as I imagine it would have been if it had come straight out of the oven. Nevertheless, I could not wait to dig into the Thanksgiving Preview ($25).

This entree was delicious. It had such a lovely assortment of side dishes. The cranberry sauce was wonderful and had a great mixture of sweetness and tartness. The yams were whipped to perfection and had a creamy consistency. They also had just the right amount of sweetness. I normally don't like brussell sprouts, but these were coated in subtly sweet glaze. The stuffing was also amazing and was slightly salty and had a savory flavor. The mashed potatoes were also wonderful, having a creamy texture and being lightly salty. The seitan was a little odd, as it was too moist and overly chewy. It also had a bitter flavor and did not mimic turkey at all. This definitely needed to be improved.

Since we had waited so long for our meal, the owner kindly offered us a dessert on the house. We chose the Banana Foster Split ($12).

The dessert was very rich and decadent. The ice cream was very creamy and had a lovely sweet flavor. The sauce was chocolaty and very heavenly. The softened bananas added a subtle sweetness. The whipped cream took the sundae over the top and was very light and airy. I would definitely recommend this dessert.

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. The food was very high quality, although without the deal, would have been a little overpriced. With the discount, the meal only cost $21 (with tax and tip), which was great, since it included the dessert. I was stuffed and satisfied and my Thanksgiving cravings were met. I am happy I purchased more of the vouchers and I will definitely be back soon to use them again.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hitting The Spot With A Veggie Burger

It's such a bummer that The Spot is located in Hermosa Beach, a beach town that is far from my Westside abode and where parking can often be a nightmare, especially in the summer. Luckily, I hit up The Spot early on a Friday and since it was late November and a little chilly, I was able to find a meter right in front of the restaurant. I decided to sit outside since their patio is very cute, with a Mexican decor. I had a Groupon voucher for a veggie burger of my choice that I had purchased for $5. I opted for the Guacamole burger ($11) as it not only sounded delicious, but was also one of the most expensive burgers.

First, a complimentary appetizer came out: carrots and a tahini dip.

These carrots were very crunchy and fresh-tasting. The tahini dip had a rich flavor and softened the carrots a bit, making them easier to chomp on.

Next, my burger came out.

The burger was delicious and had a savory, beany taste. It was not too dense, as veggie burgers often can be. The guacamole topping was creamy and had a lovely avocado flavor. It had a light chili flavor and was perfectly spiced. The accompanying almond rice was also very good and delicately seasoned. It was soft and easy to chew.

Overall, the meal was great and the food really hit the spot. The service was also phenomenal and the waiter was very attentive. I love how The Spot has such a relaxed atmosphere, which is very fitting, considering it's just steps away from the ocean. I always enjoy food more when I feel relaxed, so this definitely contributed to my love affair with their food. At less than $8 (including tax and tip), I was completely stuffed and my belly was quite happy. I cannot wait to return and wish they would relocate or add a second location in the Westside.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Dangerously Good Lunch At Darbster

I recently discovered Darbster in West Palm Beach on my trip to Florida back in April. I don't think the restaurant has been around very long, but it is truly amazing. I dined there twice in April and twice again on my recent trip. What's even better is that Darbster has a fabulous newsletter they send out weekly that includes tons of discounts. My grandma and I took advantage of their mid-day discount and got a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees.

First, we had the "trees" wings ($5).

These were delicious. They were very crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. The accompanying sauces were delicious and worked perfectly with the wings. The buffalo sauce was spicy with a subtle tang. The other sauce was creamy, cooling and ranch-like.

Next, I had the palm cake sandwich with a side of onion rings ($6.75+2.50).

This sandwich was out of this world. The palm cakes had an amazing flavor and seemed to mimic crab cakes well. They were composed of deep fried artichokes formed into a fritter-like consistency. They were a little bitter and perfectly salty and had a slightly savory taste. The creamy aioli sauce was very scrumptious and complimented the palm cakes very well.

Lastly, we had an oreo creme cheesecake ($6) for dessert.

The cheesecakes at Darbster are seriously some of the best I've ever had. This cheesecake was no exception. It had a rich, cheesy flavor and was very creamy. The oreo bits added a wonderful crunch and gave it a lovely chocolaty flavor, made even better by the decadent covering of chocolate sauce. The whipped cream took the cheesecake over the top and was very light and airy.

Overall, I really enjoyed my lunch at Darbster and my grandma raved about it on our drive to the airport. What I love about their lunch, is that the portions are similar to the dinner ones, yet the prices are significantly dinner. With the free appetizer, our whole meal came out to about $25 (with tax and tip). This place ranks really high and can easily compete with Sublime. I am so happy to have discovered these two gems. It almost makes me consider moving to Florida and definitely makes my visits way easier.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Sublime Dinner

Since Sublime opened years ago, I have been dying to dine there. While it's only about 45 minutes from my grandma's house, in Fort Lauderdale, it is quite a trek and no one in my family has been willing to make it. During my visit to Florida, my grandma's vegan friend raved about how amazing Sublime is and described how innovative their food is. Thus, the three of us hopped in my grandma's car and braved the dangerous streets filled with elderly drivers.

The restaurant was not what I expected and quite larger than any vegan restaurant I've been to. The interior was beautiful, with a wonderful, spacious, modern layout and a waterfall against one of the windows.

My grandma's friend and I decided to each order a pre-fix menu that cost $35 and included a glass of wine, appetizer, entree and dessert. This was way cheaper than ordering items individually. My grandma wasn't very hungry, so she ordered an entree and tried some of our dishes.

First, a complimentary polenta dish came out.

This was delicious. The polenta was soft and had a savory flavor. It had a very delicate texture and was easy to chew.

Next, our glasses of wine came out. I ordered the chardonnay.

The wine complimented the food very well. It was slightly bitter and had a subtle sweet undertone. It went down easy.

Next, our appetizers came out. I ordered the Frito Misto and my grandma's friend ordered the Crispy Eggplant Rollatini. I first tried the Frito Misto.

This was very delicious. The cauliflower was deep-fried in a batter and coated with a sweet and spicy sauce. It was very crispy and had a lovely tanginess. The sauce was so scrumptious and was soaked up well by the fried cauliflower.

Next, I tried an eggplant rollatini.

I didn't think I would like this, as I am not a fan of eggplant. I did not notice the eggplant at all, since the creamy tofu ricotta dominated the dish. It was so rich and luscious and had a lovely saltiness. The appetizer was reminiscent of a crispy manicotti roll.

Next, I had my entree, the Quiche Lorraine.

As a vegan, I rarely get the chance to have a cheesy quiche that I loved in my vegetarian days. This quiche was very nostalgic for me, as it mimicked a non-vegan quiche so well. It had a wonderful, "eggy" texture and was so soft and creamy. It had a delectable cheesy taste and a savory flavor. It did not seem exactly like a ham quiche, but the crispy tempeh provided a meaty taste. The accompanying kale salad was fantastic. It was very light and refreshing and the kale was easy to chew.

For dessert, we shared the Chocolate Nirvana and Coconut Cake. I first tried the Chocolate Nirvana.

The chocolate cake was rich and had such a moist texture. It was not too sweet and not too chocolatey or dense. The frosting was very creamy and had notes of kahlua and buttercream. The chocolate ganache on top was very decadent.

Lastly, I had the Coconut Cake.

While I'm not a huge fan of coconut, I loved this cake. It had a rich flavor and such amazing textures. The taste of coconut was not overpowering, but balanced out by the buttercream. The accompanying almond tuille was delectable and was crispy and had a perfect sweetness.

Overall, the meal was phenomenal. This was some of the best food I've ever had. The customer service took the experience over the top, as the waiter was very attentive and frequently checked up on us and chatted with us. In addition, the owner of the restaurant came to our table to introduce herself. For the quality of the meal, the price was very reasonable. In addition, Sublime donated their proceeds to animal charities, so by dining there you are not only eating a delicious cruelty-free meal, but helping animals in need. Our meal came out to less than $100 total, with tax and tip. I cannot wait to return to Sublime on my next trip to Florida. Seriously, this place is a must!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Greatness At Pine Garden

At first glance, Pine Garden in Boca Raton seems like a typical Chinese restaurant. They don't even advertise having vegetarian/vegan options. And of course, when you walk in, they immediately hand you the meat laden menu. But like any good secret, there lies a hidden vegan menu, just as expansive as the main menu, carefully tucked away. This is only known by a technology savvy vegan, who has researched all the vegan options in the South Florida area, and has discovered the many vegan options at this establishment. For every meat option, there exists a vegan version, even more enticing.

My grandma and I ventured to this restaurant for their wonderful lunch special and were joined by her curious vegan friend. It was so exciting to be able to show her friend that there are in fact vegan options at restaurants. I had dined here on my last trip to the West Palm Beach area and found the food to be quite enjoyable.

The lunch special is only $8 and comes with a bowl of soup, egg roll, choice of entree and white or brown rice. We all opted for the crispy orange beef and the brown rice.

First, our soups came out. The soup of the day was wonton soup.

This wonton soup was very delectable. It had a rich, beef flavored broth with crunchy pieces of carrots and scallions. This noodle of the wonton was slightly doughy and very soft. The interior had a very savory taste and was filled with a vegetable mixture.

Next, I had the egg roll.

The egg roll was fantastic. It wasn't too oily or soaked in grease, as so many Chinese appetizers are. It was flaky and crispy and filled with a lovely vegetable mixture. The vegetables were seasoned very well and coated in a soy sauce.

Next, I had the entree, which was made of a wheat gluten.

This tasted nothing like beef, but was still very enjoyable. The sauce was very scrumptious and was very tangy and flavorful. It had a very mild spice. The faux meat was a little too chewy and difficult to eat. It could have been a little crispier, too.

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. The food was not too greasy or oily and I did not feel sick afterwards, as I often do after eating Chinese food. This place is perfect, especially when dining with omnivores, as they do not feel forced to eat vegan food, but of course have that option. The waiters were very friendly and quick to answer our questions about how they make the food. This was a great deal, only costing $8 a person for a generous portion of food. I cannot wait to return on my next visit.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Magnificent Meal at Mac 'N Food Truck

I cannot profess my love for food trucks enough. They are so convenient and have delicious, high quality food for a very reasonable price. I am so happy they are a huge fad right now and that vegan versions exist. I was delighted to discover the Mac N Food truck based out of Miami on my recent trip to Florida. I was even more excited when their schedule featured a stop at a festival in Delray Beach, not too far from my grandma's house. To top it all off, they had a deal on Yelp Deals for $5 for $10 worth of food. We took all the food to go, since there wasn't much seating at the event. They packed the food very well, so it stayed hot for a long while.

First, I had the Fried Green Tomatoes ($5).

These were delicious. The tomatoes were bitter with a subtle sweetness. They were deep fried in a wonderful batter and coated in a scrumptious, creamy mayo sauce. I normally don't like mayo, but I found Mac N Food's to be quite enjoyable and not overpowering.

Next, I had the Soyrizo and Pepperjack Mac 'n Cheese combo, which came with sweet potato fries ($10). We also added an extra order of sweet potato fries ($4).

The mac 'n cheese was some of the best I've had. The sauce was so cheesy and creamy and was perfectly salted. It had a light peppery taste. The soyrizo was wonderful, providing a savory flavor and adding a slightly chewy texture to the soft, well-cooked macaroni.  The dish was moderately spicy and had a nice kick to it.

Lastly, I had the sweet potato fries.

The sweet potato fries were fabulous. They were not greasy or soaked in oil, as so many fries often are. They were nice and soft and easy to chew. The taste of sweet potatoes was dominant, having a very luscious flavor.

Overall, the meal was very enjoyable. I was a little disappointed that the menu was so small and they didn't have any dessert. Nevertheless, the food was top-notch and definitely restaurant quality. I'm sad this truck is in Florida and really wish they would open another in LA. With the discount, the meal only cost $14. This was a great deal, considering we were stuffed and our stomachs were very satisfied.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snappers: Not So Snappy

It's not very often that you find a seafood restaurant that has an entire vegan menu. This is the case at Snapper's restaurant in Boynton Beach, Florida, along with their sister restaurant, Wave 2700 in Boca Raton. Apparently, the owner's wife is vegan, thus decided to implement vegan options in hopes of encouraging diners to try these items. My grandma and her vegan friend tried some of these items a few months ago and called me to tell me how delicious the food was. Thus, I was excited to dine there. I was even more thrilled to discover you can sign up for their e-club through texting and receive instant coupons. The first coupon I received was for a free appetizer. Snapper's only has one vegan appetizer, which is hummus and pita ($7).

First, the waiter brought out complimentary bread. We inquired if the bread was vegan and after quickly running back to the kitchen to find out, he told us it was. Unfortunately, they didn't have vegan butter, so we just dipped the bread in olive oil.

The bread was very good, as it came straight from the oven. It was slightly crispy and doughy on the inside.

Next, the hummus and pita came out.

The hummus was pretty good, but honestly not the best hummus I've had. It was very creamy and had a rich, chickpea flavor. The olives added a wonderful bitter taste. I would have liked it to have a little more olive oil, especially in the center.

Next, we had a salad that came with the entree. Since none of the dressings were vegan, we just used olive oil and vinegar.

The salad was very standard and not exciting at all. I would have loved if it had more substance or even if it was coated in a flavorful vinaigrette. I'm not a fan of standard green salads, so this was difficult for me to eat.

Next, the entree came out. We both had the Vegan Nut Loaf with Sage Gravy ($19).

This entree was very disappointing and such a letdown. The plate was filled with flavorless, steamed broccoli. There was also a huge glob of mashed potatoes that lacked seasoning and was also difficult to eat. The nut loaf was overcooked and very crunchy and felt like chewing on plastic. The gravy was very bitter and had a strong fungal taste from the mushrooms. I could barely eat this dish and was upset that it was so damn expensive.

Since we complained to the owner's wife about the dish, she brought us out some complimentary dessert, the vegan pumpkin pie ($5).

This was pretty good, but definitely not the best pumpkin pie I've had. It had a very jelly-like consistency and a strong pumpkin flavor. It was not very sweet and could have used more sugar. The whipped cream on top was a nice touch, but just seemed like soyatoo! from a can. I prefer when restaurants make their own whipped cream, as it has a better consistency and a richer taste.

Overall, the meal was very disappointing. I had strong hopes for this place, since they make such an effort to have an eclectic selection of vegan options. I really appreciate the effort and am hoping this was just an off day for them. I would be willing to give them another chance, however, as I know restaurants aren't always consistent. It's also extremely hard to find good vegan food in the area, so I welcome any restaurant that tries to change this. The meal was quite expensive at a little over $40 for two people, but we did get two complimentary items. The e-club seems like a great way to get discounts at the restaurant, although I really wish they would lower the prices of their menu items. The food really isn't worth the price and neither is dining experience. I am hoping this place improves by my next visit, as it has such potential.