vegansaurus!

05/18/2011

Vegansaurus NYC: John’s of 12th Street’s new all-vegan menu!  »

I heard some chatter that one of NYC’s oldest Italian restaurants had added an all-vegan menu in addition to their regular menu. Naturally I looked into it. Sure enough, John’s of 12th Street has not just vegan options but an entirely separate vegan menu, which proclaims: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy our Italian specialties made with the freshest ingredients available! All of our vegan dishes are plant-based and contain no animal ingredients whatsoever. We use dedicated cooking utensils for preparing vegan dishes.” Wow! I arranged a dinner immediately with a bunch of my vegan friends and we promptly showed up forks in hand.

John’s is an old-school Italian place. It opened in 1903 and the space has an old-fashioned feel. The waiters are all in white button-ups with ties and have Brooklyn accents. And at one point our waiter actually yelled at an adjacent birthday party to keep it down—for the record, they were being wicked loud—totally awesome.

When we sat down, we were asked if we’d like garlic bread; my friend said we’d like the vegan garlic bread. Our waiter asked if we were all “goin’ ve-gaan tonight?” We nodded and he quickly whisked away our menus and replaced them with the vegan ones. Super exciting. Vegan appetizers, salads, pastas, entrees, and desserts. We were a large party so I got to taste a wide variety. Two kinds of bruschetta (one with avocado!), Caesar salad, stuffed mushrooms, minestrone soup. All quite good. For my main I order pasta with vegan Alfredo, BECAUSE HOW CAN YOU NOT. It was good. I won’t lie, I put a lot of salt and pepper on it but after that it was delicious. My roommate had the tofu spinach ravioli which I though had really impressive texture, just like a traditional ravioli. Another friend let me taste the seitan parm (it was yum) which came with a SIDE of pasta. Would you like a side of pasta? Only with everything please!

Then came dessert. This was the true highlight. I got the vanilla cannoli. Oh man. Cue picture:


Crazy delicious! Some of my friends got the chocolate version but I didn’t taste it because no one was interested in sharing at this point, just scarfing. There was also a panna cotta (surprisingly good) and ice cream from Lula’s (always a delight).

Bottom line: I was ultra-stoked about this trip because I LOVE Italian food, but I wouldn’t tell a vegan from out of town to go out of their way unless they are a major fan like me. Except for the cannoli which IS worth going out of your way!! You should go get one NOW. This is a great place for a large dinner party, especially if it’s a mixed party with vegans and nons. The food is good. It is not unbelievable or particularly special but it is a solid “good.”

I think its super important to point out that John’s is freaking radical for doing this!! How many restaurants can you just walk into and not just have a few options but your whole own entire menu made with special animal-free pots and pans? Like NOWHERE. Go John’s of 12th Street! You are sexy like a vegan! I hope this is the sign of a trend because I would love for more restaurants/bakeries/delis/etc. to have good vegan options. And I MEAN options; one item is not “options.” Yay for vegan Italian food! Is it the best food ever? No. Is it good? Yes! I’ll take another side of pasta please!

[Ed.: Oh, snap! It looks like you can ORDER ONLINE!! Ugh, do they deliver to Oakland? BECAUSE WANT.]

Laura Yasinitsky is a writer, comic, waitress, and animal-lover based in New York City. She has appeared on Comedy Central’s “Open-Mic Fight” and writes for US Weekly's Fashion Police. You can follow her silliness on Twitter @LaraYaz and read about her animal friendly adventures at Laura Goes Vegan.

05/13/2011

Millennium’s Southern Comfort Dinner is coming! Reserve your seats now or y’all be screwed, ya hear!  »

This is a reblog of what I wrote for SFist yesterday because I’m on deadline for a project that actually pays me, unlike you ungrateful jerks friends of mine!

On Wednesday, May 25, Millennium goes country! Well, as country as a vegan restaurant in San Francisco can go. Which means, it’s country cliches left and right! Previous years feasts have included buckets o’ beer, mint juleps, deep-fried everything, wedge salads, a carving station (f’real), and a sundae bar. Not sure what’s so southern about that but we love sundaes so we’ll let it slide. It’s really one of the best nights dining anywhere and by the end of the night, you’ll be too fat to walk, and that’s definitely a southern thing. Or an awesome thing. It’s both things.

Millennium’s SoCo Dinner is a five-course prix fixe menu that costs $39.99 per person. Reservations are available between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., call (415) 345.3900 to make ‘em.

Oh, and Meave reviewed a previous Southern Comfort Dinner and it was pretty fucking epic. Here’s some unsane po’ boy from that feast: 

03/30/2011

Guest review: Soul Cocina!  »

I have a love-hate affair with vegan restaurants that fill their menu with faux-meat. Don’t get me wrong, I love a delicious kung pao un-chicken dish, but I believe that one can eat vegan without using meat-substitutes or compromising flavor. Enter Roger of Soul Cocina pop-up fame to present a six-course vegan feast without soy or processed ingredients, instead taking cues from world cuisines and seasonal produce.

When you first walk in to La Victoria (2937 24th St. at Alabama Street in San Francisco) on a night Roger has taken over the kitchen, head straight past the well stocked pastry to the back of the bakery. There, the cafe tables have been transformed with fresh flower bouquets, bright tablecloths, and a comfortable, homey ambiance that makes you want to cozy up for a few hours. While diners can order separate dishes from Soul Cocina’s rotating menu, my dining companion and I went the full monty and each ordered the fixe prix dinner ($30).

Our first taste of Roger’s world-influenced cuisine was the bhel puri, a light Indian snack of puffed rice, peanuts, onions, tomatoes, and mangoes, drizzled with a tamarind sauce. Wrapped in paper cones, this dish showcased street food at it’s finest. A second appetizer quickly followed: a basket of homemade blue corn tortilla strips with a bowl of heavenly guacamole that can best be described as avocado-overload (and I mean that in the best way).

Next was a surprise last-minute addition, a roasted pan of cauliflower with a smokey, soft, buttery texture perfectly contrasted against the crunch of pine nuts and sweet currants. A healthy does of spicy garlic, olive oil, and a kick of citrus reminded me of the Middle East, where such bright flavor profiles are usually found in the restaurants lining the streets of Istanbul.

Our chef was kind enough to come out and present dishes, including a well composed plate of platano maduro, pickled vegetables, and slow-cooked black beans on a banana leaf. Unfortunately the sharp kick of acid from the pickles overpowered the subtler flavor of the soft beans. That’s not to say that I didn’t finish almost everything, despite my belly telling me to call it quits.  But we still had one more dish and dessert to go, and I was determined to try everything.
Our last main was a stuffed thick tortilla (called a “huaraches de buddha”) topped with a medley of exotic sauteed vegetables. I’ve been wanting to try fiddleheads for awhile now, and the best way I could describe the taste was if broccoli and asparagus had a punk rock baby. The two accompanying pureed salsas had a definite kick, but their smoky heat went perfectly with the lightly seasoned vegetables and stuffed tortilla.

My eating prowess was rewarded with possibly the best vegan desert I have ever been served:  a coconut creme bruleee with a side of tropical fruit. Sounds simple, but this was off the hook. The brulee’s sweet hard shell broke perfectly to reveal the velvety, rich, fragrant custard beneath.  The consistency and sweetness were spot-on. Seriously, it was out of this world paired with thinly sliced starfruit and kiwi.

Unfortunately, Roger might be moving to Chicago this year. So next time he presents a vegan Soul Cocina night, go! A few more tips: the biggest bang for your buck is the prix fixe, but first run a marathon (or around the block) a few times as you’ll need your game face in order finish everything. While you’re out, skip around the corner to grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner sans—corking fee. To find out when Roger will be presenting another vegan night (usually the first Wednesday and Thursday of the month), visit Soul Cocina’s website.

UPDATE: Soul Cocina’s LAST meal is THIS Saturday, Apr. 2! It’s mostly vegan, SFoodie has the scoop! And then order tickets and get exact details here! Everyone GO!!

Justine Quart has a penchant for urban exploration and meditation, yoga and boxing, vegan food and a properly aged whiskey. When she’s not dreaming up the next big adventure, she is offering kick-ass vegan wellness services at local businesses, freelancing at the SF Appeal and The Bold Italic, or roaming the neighborhood with her partner in crime, el Jefe. Check her out at Dojo Wellness.

03/22/2011

Zpizza opens in SF! Plus free pizza on Friday!  »

Yo! Remember back in 2009 when we were all OMG ZPIZZA IS OPENING THIS YEAR, and then it hella didn’t open? I don’t either! Anyway, they’re now officially open in SoMa and having a grand opening event with FREE PIZZA (!!!) this Friday, Mar. 25, between 11 a.m. and noon and 5 and 6 p.m. If there’s one thing I like more than free pizza, it’s NOTHING.

Zpizza serves Daiya cheese and lots of vegan toppings, and they deliver in San Francisco. I’ve only heard good things about their pizza and quarrygirl really loves it, so I’m super excited to eat eat EAT! Let’s DO IT UP, San Francisco!
[Zpizza’s “Berkeley Vegan” pic via quarrygirl!]

Vegan Indian food pop-up in the Mission on Wednesday!  »

Dude, this sounds amazing. The folks at Kasa are making it happen, deliciously. It’s only $20, the menu is HUGE, and reports from last week’s dinner were that it was off the chain. Maybe not that wording exactly but I’m too lazy to look up the emails. SO! Go this week and support them making it all vegan and maybe we’ll see more vegan nights! They are randomly doing this one vegan because the demand was so high last week, so let’s support them!

Now, here is a picture of Dhokla, a chickpea flour sponge cake drizzled with tamarind sauce. You’ll be eating it on Wednesday, and you will be very happy!
See you there
! Er, but first, call 415-690-8512 for reservations or email popup@kasaindian.com for reservations!

[picture from Food Stories!]

03/09/2011

Source: New SF veg restaurant opens today!  »

And Vi’s got the scoop over on Bay Area Bites. We’re intrigued by this somewhat insane concept, and plan on checking it out soon. We do know that all the desserts are vegan because they’re from Wholesome Bakery. Aaaand, that’s about all we know. Oh, except the menu pretty much has every type of food ever on it, and they employ something called “color therapy.” Let’s do this, you wacky hippies.

Reports coming soon, and let us know if you check it out!

03/03/2011

Get up on this: Vegan dinner crawl in Berzerkley!*  »

There’s apparently this thing called Dishcrawl and they organize mobile feasts for awesome fatties who want to binge. I like the sound of THAT! They’re doing one in Berkeley and it’s ALL VEGAN and that’s exciting. Basically, you pay $26 and they lead you to four restaurants and have delicious food planned out for you and you eat and laugh and then eat some more. Maybe at some point you pass out? Then you wake up and you eat some more! Actually, this is sounding like a dream-turned-nightmare I had.

Anyway, the event takes place on Thursday, Mar. 24 in downtown Berkeley at 7 p.m. If you want to join in on the food festivities, email organizer Colleen!

*dad joke!

02/23/2011

Guest review: Sacred Wheel in Oakland! VEGAN GRILLED CHEESE, Y’ALL  »

Even though I’d heard that Sacred Wheel offered vegan grilled cheese on Sundays, I was a little nervous about seeking out vegan food in a gourmet cheese shop. I had already imagined the eye-rolling response when I sheepishly asked about a vegan option and the ultimate disappointment it was sure to be.

Holy Sheese on a cracker, being wrong never tasted so good.

Not only did the friendly employees at Sacred Wheel not bat an eye when I asked about vegan options, they proceeded to make me the yummiest panini-style grilled Sheese sandwich ever! The shop’s grilled cheese of the day was a mozzarella-style dairy-free cheese with sundried tomato pesto. My beau and I arrived near closing and even though they’d long since sold out of the daily special, they offered us a regular cheddar-style grilled cheese. They had two vegan soups of the day to go along with their “Sunday Vegan Sunday” theme, a tofu tabouli that was amazingly filling and a TBR (tomato soup with PBR!) that was peppery and perfect for sandwich-dipping. We got a cup of soup and a giant sandwich each, which came out to about $20 all together. I happily ate the whole thing while dancing in my chair and humming “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”


The shop is adorable, very well laid-out, and seemingly able to accommodate a lunch rush with a giant picnic table, window/counter seating, and some little tables out front. We were lucky enough to get to chat with the owner, Jena, who was awesome. For being a store that specializes in gourmet cheese, Sacred Wheel has an impressive vegan selection. In addition to a few different kinds of Sheese, Sacred Wheel carries local tofu products made by Oakland’s Hodo Soy. There’s also a whole case of imported oils and a huge assortment of jams, jellies, and mustards.

Jena said she’d ultimately like to offer a vegan option every day, which means we should probably go in every Sunday to remind her that vegans in Oakland are desperate for more lunch options in Temescal. Because if I have to eat another slice of Lanesplitter pizza before it’s too early in the day to justifiably have a beer, I’m going to scream. (And then order a beer.)

Sacred Wheel is located at 4935 Shattuck Ave. in Oakland, Sunday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck. This is her second review for us. Thanks, Courtney!

02/22/2011

Guest review: Homeroom in Oakland!  »

After hiding inside for hours, the boyf and I decided that we couldn’t think of anything more appropriate for a gray and shitty day like today than a hot bowl of mac ‘n cheese. So we used it as an excuse to try out the brand spankin’ new Homeroom mac ‘n cheese restaurant in North Oakland.

We first noticed a line down the block. While debating whether we should try it out after the opening weekend crowd, an adorable old lady came out and told us to go in and make sure to try the vegan plate. “It’s actually delicious!” Actually nothing lady, now I’m getting into that damn restaurant come hell or high gutter water. We perused the menu in the forty minutes we waited for a table and noticed that Homeroom offers a wine and micro-brew suggested pairing for every type of mac n’ cheese, which I think is awesome (In case you were wondering, Rasputin Imperial Stout is evidently best for vegan mac.)

We finally got a table and everyone at our table ordered the homemade root beer, which ended up tasting way more like cream soda, or maybe a melted Coca-Cola Icee. After waiting quite some time for our server and then even more time for our food, we were getting a little cranky. A few 127 Hours jokes later, the food showed up and we barely let the bowls of steaming mac n’cheese touch the table before we started digging in like a rusty pocket knife into a femur.

Boyf and I both got the one vegan option, while our dining companions opted for the Trailer Mac (hot dogs, mac, and chips, eww) and the Egg and Bacon Mac (super-eww). Ours definitely looked the best, with thick nooch-based sauce (heavy on the salt and dijon) topped with chopped walnuts in lieu of bread crumbs. I had no complaints about the food. It was creamy, salty and nutty, just like a vegan mac should be and the portion size was more than enough for me. However, the entire experience really went downhill when we got our check. For four root beers and four plates of mac, the total ended up almost $60 after tip. This seemed pretty steep for a food that I can make with both my eyes closed and one hand firmly gripped around a bottle of Jameson. Homeroom does offer a frequent dining card, but you have to eat 10 bowls of mac before you’ve earned a free one.

This probably means that I’m going to treat this Homeroom like I’ve treated all my other homerooms” I’m glad I showed up for the first day, but I probably won’t be back very often.

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck.

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