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.
Vegansaurus NYC: Blossom! »
I may have finally found a reason to move to Manhattan: Blossom! It rules. It may even be better than Millennium and Horizons, no lie. I went there for my birthday dinner over the weekend and I’m basically dead. Other food has lost all meaning. I don’t even want to look at anything that wasn’t made in that kitchen. I think I have food malaise! Can you die from food malaise? I guess we’ll see (yay, experiment!).
It was so dark inside that I couldn’t get any decent pictures but trust, everything looked dope. For starters, I had the parsnip cappelletti: “Fresh hand-rolled ravioli stuffed with savory whipped parsnip and crushed potatoes, finished with shiitakes and truffle oil.” DAMN. It was amazing. I’ve been really into parsnips all winter and this pasta-parsnip combo was great. People got various yummy things but one of my guests got the ravioli with cashew cream, which I liked in particular.
For my entree, I had the phyllo roulade: “French lentils and root vegetables baked in a phyllo crust, served over a carrot-cream sauce. Caramelized onions and swiss chard complement.” It was great but honestly it kind of just tasted like the lentil Peasant Pie, which is a lot cheaper. But I love the lentil Peasant Pie so I loved this dish too. Half my guests got the rigatoni in porcini cream because god forbid the ominvores step out of their comfort zone! Just kidding, it’s a valid choice and that dish was slamming. The cream sauce was excellent—all the cream sauces were excellent. One friend got the seitan scaloppini which we both agreed was too salty.
Then we got dessert! We all shared the cheesecake, the ganache and the apple cinnamon sticks. The last was my favorite, I think. It was a great mix of sweet and salty. The omnis couldn’t believe how legit the cheesecake was; one guest said it was one of the best he’s had. The chocolate ganache was good, it had a nice cake bottom, but it wasn’t that special. See, I like cake like I like my education: special!
And the wine, oh the wine! Delightful. I’d say though that it was the appetizers that did me in. I want to go back and just get all starters! And wine. But seriously you’d have to be Sir Fatpockets to eat there on the regular. It’s pricey. Worth it, though! And if it were any cheaper, I would live in the gutter just waiting for them to open each day. I wouldn’t get anything done! And I have important things to do. Big things going on, big things.
[generic picture from restaurantsinyc.com]
The Vegansaurus Diet: Megan Rascal! »
Hey guys, did you know we have a little series called the Vegansaurus Diet? Readers can submit their weeklong adventure in vegan eating! Jeez louise, do you want to be internet famous? Here’s your chance! For inspiration (and attention), here’s my Vegansaurus Diet!
[Ed.: Megan wrote a whole lot of excuses as to why she didn’t vary her routine or cook a lot this week, which frankly is 0 percent important when compared to the fact that she recorded a regular old week of vegan eating. You think models are embarrassed to have eaten, like, the same $30 salad from the same restaurant for a month? NO. And you’re vegan, you’re obviously more interesting than someone whose job is “skinny.”]
Tuesday, Jan. 11
I start the day with my favorite breakfast: multigrain english muffins with Earth Balance and grape jelly! Plus, two Yves breakfast patties; I love those little guys. Vegan sausage is generally a solid bet, am I right? I always recommend sausage items when I take the omnis somewhere new. Then I had about five to 10 clementines. I can’t help it! They are so good! Of course I’d prefer satsumas but they just aren’t very good on the East Coast. Sad face.
For lunch, I had what I’ve had for the last two weeks: sushi! I only like avocado rolls so that’s what I had, along with edamame and veggie spring rolls. Then I had 10 to 12 clementines.
Snacks: tamari almonds and—drum roll!—clementines!
Dinner: An Amy’s non-dairy burrito. I like ‘em.
Wednesday, Jan. 12
Today for brekkie I went a little crazy and mixed it up: apples and peanut butter! It’s not just for children. Today I had a Honeycrisp apple but I’m really into Pink Ladies—Gala apples are totally played out. For lunch I had sushi and edamame again. For dinner I had a toasted multigrain english muffin with peanut butter and strawberry jelly. Nothing beats a PB+J!
You’ll notice a lack of clementines. I ate them all yesterday and then it snowed and I was too lazy to trek through the snow for some more.
Friday, Jan. 14
Apples and peanut butter for breakfast! Sushi and edamame for lunch! For a snack, I had two Lightlife sausage links and a cup of applesauce; it’s a good combination. I think I like the Yves sausage patties better but the Lightlife is a solid alternative—they have more flavor—but they’re a bit tough. For dinner I had Dr. McDougall’s roasted peanut noodle! Apparently it’s in his “Asian Entree” series. I’m a big Dr. McDougall fan—have you tried the miso ramen? It’s out of control. I’m a big peanut fan too so I was very excited when my interests came together in noodle form. It wasn’t the most amazing thing ever but it was pretty darn good for something that recommends you microwave it for best results. Lastly, for dessert, I had toast with I. M. Healthy chocolate soy nut butter.
Sunday, January 16th
I had a lovely breakfast: oatmeal and a chocolate chip banana muffin from 'Snice, with Earl Gray tea of course. For dinner, I ordered from Dao Palate! It’s a vegan pan-Asian place. It’s yummy! I got spring rolls and pad thai (pictured left).
Monday, Jan. 17
I had an english muffin with jam for breakfast. Sushi for lunch, duh. Now for dinner, I had some crazy good stuff! It was my sister-in-laws birthday and we had a big party for her at Gemma in Manhattan. The waiters were so nice and got me all kinds of vegan food! I had bruschetta that had these killer grape tomatoes; then a nice little salad; pasta with tomato sauce and basil for the entree; and raspberry sorbet for dessert! And champagne—lots of champagne.
That is my week in eating! My diet is basically the same as a 10 year-old’s, a 10 year-old who really likes sushi.
Would you like to be featured on Vegansaurus? Of course you would! So submit your Vegansaurus Diet already!
Vegansaurus NYC: Counter! »
Counter kind of rules—75 percent of my meal was off the hook! It’s just vegetarian but most of the items on the menu are vegan. They have “snacks” where you can get any three for $15—I love that sort of thing, small bites and whatnot. We got the white bean hummus, cornmeal-pepita-crusted kabocha and the roasted butternut and broccoli raab crostini. The crostini was very good but the kabocha was AWESOME. The hummus: meh. It had a bit of a fennel taste and I mother-loving HATE anything that tastes like licorice. Licorice can die in a fire for all I care! Yeah, I said it.
I got the soup of the day, a white bean soup, and it was pretty good but nothing special; the side of brussels sprouts, though, goddamn they were good. I love brussels sprouts! They were the beets of 2006 and I’m still on that groove train. The 25 percent of my meal that I didn’t like was the brown rice salad. It was really hard, the kabocha in it was kind of tough, and the brown rice was minimally cooked. That was a downer, but the rest of the meal was great.
My waitress kind of blew. She was nice enough but she just wasn’t around even though the place wasn’t even a third full. It’s not a big deal; I just could have gotten several more glasses of organic wine, if she’d given me the opportunity! We wanted to get dessert too but she took so long to come over to us that we lost interest in it. I showed her! I only tipped her 15 percent instead of my standard 20!* I think she got the message.
I would definitely recommend this place for drinks and tapas (“tapa” is foodie for “appetizer”!). They have an impressive drink menu and wine list—and you know I like to get my drink on!
[Sorry for the generic picture from Counter’s website but I couldn’t get any food shots! Damn mood lighting! Man, I need to get out for brunch more instead of dinner. But, alas, I like the nightlife!]
How to be a fancy and demanding vegan! »
Sometimes you may think to yourself, “Gosh, is that Megan Rascal fancy!” but there are fancier members of my family: my brother and sister-in-law are like the New York couple—so hip and chic. They love to go to nice restaurants and when they invite me along, they are always really cool and send me the menus beforehand to check if they’re vegan friendly. However, more often than not, the restaurants they seem to choose are like meaty-meat-meats-a-lot. I don’t know why! There are many meat-centric, yet vegan-friendly restaurants in this big city but they don’t seem to like them. So I’m always like, “I guess I can ask for this one salad without bacon?” And they are like, “great!” And I’m like, “great.” But this last time, when they wanted to go to Savoy in Manhattan and I saw that there were possibly zero vegan items on the menu, I put my foot down. Well, sort of. I said, “I can make do with the salads I think! Also we have to try this thing people do, like at nice places, sometimes the chef will make a vegan dish that’s not on the menu just with what they have that day. We should try it! I’m scared. Maybe [your wife] will know how to do it.” See, I’m always telling you, I’m shy! So I’m nervous to bother chefs but my brother is not! He called the restaurant before we got there to see what they could do for me. According to him,
I said something like, “And we have one vegan in our party—do you have options for her?” And she said “Yes, we can accommodate that no problem. I’ll make a note of that on your reservation.” And I said, “OK great! Thank you very much,” and that was it!
Easy peasy! When we got to the restaurant, my brother informed them that he had called earlier and I was the vegan, etc. and the waitress was very nice. She said that two items in the starters could be made vegan and that for the entree, the chef would make something special. I was so happy! I love special stuff. She asked me if there were any vegetables that I didn’t like, but there aren’t really so I told her not to worry about that.
I got a polenta dish without butter for my starter. It was very good. It was kind of like a breakfast cereal, like Cream of Wheat or something. It was good though. But the real excitement came with my entree! The chef made some crazy squash I had never heard of, stuffed with another, mushed-up squash and a bunch of vegetables, topped with a citrus salad and surrounded by kidney beans and these crazy roasted black olive things that were good even though I hate olives. It was AWESOME. And more importantly, it was FANCY! Then I finished with a scoop of chocolate sorbet. AWESOME AND FANCY!
When the waitress came out later and asked me how everything was, I was like, “It’s amazing! Tell the chef it’s great and I really appreciate it.” Damn, I’m classy. You should thank your chef, after all.
So friends, don’t be scared to go into those nice places and make your vegan needs heard! Just make sure you thank them so we keep our good name.
Vegansaurus NYC: Cocoa V! »
Hey people, one quick thing: you have to go to Cocoa V before you die! It’s an all-vegan, all-organic, all-fair trade chocolate and wine bar. CHOCOLATE and WINE! What else do you need? That’s pretty much it.
Really it’s not all chocolate and wine, they also have baked goods and a savory menu so I went to Cocoa V for brunch this weekend. I ordered the “daily whimsical quiche,” which was a spinach-onion-Daiya quiche. It was OK. Although I have publicly proclaimed Daiya to be the bomb, I think I’m over it. It has such a distinct Daiya flavor and I’m finally just tired of it. It’s like there’s all these ingredients in the quiche and all I can taste is the Daiya. But the consistency was good and the crust was good—it was a nice little quiche. I was with two friends and we started with the Cocoa V trio which was an edamame pate, hummus, spiced nuts and “toast points” (basically crostini). That’s a picture of the edamame pate on a toast point on stage right over there. This stuff was GOOD. Below is a picture of my friend’s tofu salad wrap she ordered. I tried it, it was kind of bland but good. I guess it’s what you might expect a tofu salad wrap to be like.
After the savory stuff, we got chocolate fondue! You see pals, I’m a baller and I’ll have chocolate fondue for brunch if I damn well please. The fondue wasn’t the best I’ve ever had but it was very good. Then, after the fondue, the REAL fun began! I bought all kinds of chocolates and stuff for people! You see pals, I’m the man. We got to sample this one chocolate I highly recommend you try, it was the spiced chocolate tile with cloves and those holiday spices like that. My friend Kevin said it tasted like Christmas. I liked it because it was salty and I love the chocolate + salt combo. There were so many different chocolates! I got some pretzel clusters for my brother because I’m so sweet and I got a chocolate cat-face on a stick for my friend—again, because I’m so sweet. “Chocolate cat face on a stick” sounds really gross but it’s really cute. It’s just chocolate in the shape of a cat’s head. That still sounds weird but you know what I mean!
We dabbled in the baked goods too; my friend got a red velvet cupcake but hasn’t eaten it yet so I can’t attest to the flavor but I can say it was very pretty. The scone pictured is my chocolate-hazelnut scone I’m going to have for breakfast tomorrow. DON’T WORRY! I already tried it just so I could let you know that it’s super delicious. But the rest, that’s for breakfast, I swear. I didn’t try any of their wine so I’ll have to go back again. Normally, I’m all for morning time boozing but wine in the morning wasn’t appealing today. You may notice there are many pictures in this post but I assure you, this is only a few. It started to pour outside so I was in Cocoa V for about three hours and there were so many pretty things, I got my shutter-bug on.
If you live in New York, you have to go here probably tomorrow. If you visit New York, you really should make a stop here, it’s worth it. If you can’t wait, have no fear! You can order online! Because there is a god! And god wants you to get fat off vegan chocolate! DON’T DISAPPOINT GOD.
Vegansaurus NYC: Curly’s Lunch! »
I went to brunch with the omnis this past weekend and we decided to go to Curly’s Lunch in Manhattan. I had never been there but I will be back! It was kind of awesome. It’s just vegetarian but they say they will veganize anything on the menu, “just ask.” How sweet? So sweet! I got the Slumberjack breakfast, vegan style. Vegan pancakes, tofu scramble, Curly’s fries and “sham” (fake ham). First of all, I love the name, “slumberjack” and I’m going to have to work it into my regular parlance. It may be difficult but I ain’t never scared! Second, it was the JAM. So good! I loved the sham and the tofu scramble was especially good as far as tofu scrambles go. The pancakes were excellent but I could have done without the fries. I know it’s their thing but curly fries for breakfast? Kind of ick. The omnis got the Slumberjack too but not veganized so theirs came with eggs and whatnot. They were very pleased—they even ate the veggie bacon! I was so proud.
They had a special that day, vegan gumbo. I loved my pancakes and all but vegan gumbo? Yes please! I will get it next time, if they still have it. Or maybe vegan french toast. Who can say!
Vegansaurus NYC: Muffins in Union Square! »
Fuckyeahmuffinphotoshoot! There’s a farmers market in Union Square and I passed one stand called Body and Soul (on the west side between 16th and 17th streets) that had all kinds of vegan treats! Including chocolate muffins! And blueberry corn muffins! I got one of each! They had some other muffins, a few cookies and some empanada-looking things. The muffins I got were super good. I actually preferred the blueberry corn muffin even though the other was, you know, CHOCOLATE. I must say that both muffins were kind of dry but I don’t mind that—I kind of prefer that. But I am a soda biscuit fan so it makes sense.
Look what I noticed during the photoshoot though, sad muffin!:
Don’t be sad, Mr. muffin! Well, he’s not sad anymore. Because he’s dead! Bwahahaha! Poor sad, dead muffin.
The circus fucking blows. And how you can help! »
All animal abuse is awful but many of us probably have our one issue that bothers us more than others and for me, it’s circuses with “performing” animals. ESPECIALLY the elephants. I love elephants! They are amazing! They are so totally cool and sweet and I love them. Juxtapose that with how horrifically they are treated—it’s despicable! They get electric shocks, and don’t forget about the disgusting bull hook. I would bull hook the heck out of those “trainers,” I swear. As far as animal abuse videos go, this one just kills me. I won’t watch it ever again because I will cry and not leave my house for three days and then only emerge to be mean to people. It’s not of Ringling but trust me, there are plenty of Ringling videos too. I will give you permission not to watch this video because it is super-disturbing and I feel like vegans don’t have to watch that stuff since we are already vegans. Everyone who goes to the circus, however, should have to watch that video over and over.
Back to Coney Island: I already missed the big protest but we can still go out and meet with the protesters on any Wednesday through Sunday while the show is running. It’s running until fucking September. GOD! I’m about to cry! But I won’t because I’m a tough guy.
Anyway, everyone knows that Cirque du Soleil is way better than Ringling. Like, a million times better. And they don’t use any animals! Has anyone besides me seen the one that’s just in Vegas, O? It’s amaaaazing. My family and I went a few years ago and I was all like, “what’s this thing? I don’t know, I’m tired,” but then I went and it was SO AWESOME. Actually, it was so dope that I kind of can’t see any of the other ones because they are not as awesome.
Another thing I hate: how all the New Yorkers are so very enchanted by the whole elephants having to walk through Manhattan every year. OMG it’s just so totally amazing. I’m like, STFU JERKS! Why are people so selfish? Probably because it’s our world and animals are just here for entertainment and food because they can’t protect themselves from the cancer called humans. Right on!
[illustration by Megan Rascal]
[Ed.: Crappily, the circus will be coming to the SF Bay Area in August and September. If you’re interested in heading out and educating circus-goers of the crappiness behind the tents, please holler at the fine folks with Humanity Through Education.They make it really easy to show up, grab some leaflets and signs, and help the animals of the circus! And check out Ringling Abuses Animals for other stuff you can do too.]
Vegansaurus NYC: S’nice! »
After I reviewed the V Spot in Park Slope, all my commenting pals were like, “You got to go to S’nice!” Well pals, I’ve been there like 80 times now! And I’m a big fan. I do love a sandwich. Ohhhh and the banana chocolate chip muffins! S’great. S’wonderful. Let me s’top.
First I was all about the curried cauliflower and chickpea wrap. I don’t love wraps but this one is decent. I love cauliflower! I would marry cauliflower! I would make sweet love to cauliflower right in front of broccoli’s face! But I will have to get my cauliflower from somewhere else because now my thing is the vegan panini. It’s super! It has tofu slices, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto! On ciabatta! Now to be completely honest—I can be honest, can’t I?—the tofu is on the bland side. It’s trying to look like mozzarella but it just tastes like flavorless cooked tofu. But the pesto! Oh, the pesto! And sun-dried tomato! And ciabatta! It’s delicious.
To do a thorough review, I had to try the vegan Philly cheesesteak, as you know I’m the expert. I give it 3 out of 5 Veganstaurs on the cheesesteak scale. It’s not that authentic, though it’s definitely as greasy as a cheesesteak. It comes with fried onions and peppers so they’ve got that right. The bread is not really the same as a Philly cheesesteak, but it’s good nonetheless. The main discrepancy is that the “meat” is chopped kind of thick—wrong, wrong, wrong! However the cheese is gooey and yummy.
Other things of note: there’s like a million vegan cookies but I haven’t tried any of them yet. I prefer my cookies in dough form, you see. Oh, I’ve also tried the breakfast burrito; it’s decent. It’s good for, I don’t know, breakfast. They make an excellent Arnold Palmer! Like, perfect. I hate complaining about lines but the line kind of always takes a while. I can’t tell if it’s just because they are so darn popular or if the service is just slow. It’s not the worst though. All the tables have these signs that say, “no computers at this table between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” or something like that. I don’t want to work on my computer there anyway but the signs annoy me. Nobody tells Megan Rascal what to do! You can sit outside, which is nice, but it looks like you have to keep your dog tied up on the other side of the gate: LAME! Though I’m sure if they met the notorious F.I.G., they’d make an exception, considering he’s THE MAN.
I went to the Manhattan location once. It was alright. It was on the crowded side and our waiter was just plain mean. I took my omnivore friend Kevin and, boy, what a baby! He ordered the Cuban sandwich which is like fake ham, pickles and swiss cheese on bread. Fake ham, pickles and cheese. Surprise! It was gross! Alert the media! Protect the children! Crazy omnivores. It’s sad though because now he’ll never go there with me again. Boys are goddamn babies, I swear.
In summary, S’nice is nice for sweets, sandwiches and Arnold Palmers!