Fraîche redux  »

Okay, first of all, you’re probably thinking, “why the HELL are you reviewing a FROZEN yogurt place in December? Haven’t you been outside lately? I’m already frozen enough.” But some of us are crazy. For some of us, a frozen treat on a freezing night is homeopathic, fighting the cold by embracing the cold. Or maybe it’s that a smooth dessert with infinite toppings is always nice no matter what the season.

What I do know is that walking into Fraîche is like walking into a hug. The heat is blasting (and I mean seriously blasting, they must crank it up to 80), the doors stay shut, and the counter people are immediately friendly. And it’s not just me. On weekends, this place is PACKED, even on the coldest winter night you can imagine. It’s like an oasis of summer, where for just a few moments, you can discard your winter coats and mingle with/silently scorn the Blairs and Serenas of Pacific Heights.

When I set out to review Fraîche, I hadn’t read our previous review of the Palo Alto location. Either the power of Vegansaurus swayed the owners to shape up, or the San Francisco location is run by completely different and far superior people. Because the situation for vegans is vastly improved.

Let’s get some basics out of the way. Yes, the soy frozen yogurt is vegan. Yes, there are vegan  toppings. Yes, the staff knows which are which. Yes, the granola contains honey. Yes, the shaved chocolate, pictured here, is vegan. Unlike our Palo Alto experience, if you ask if something is vegan, they will answer confidently or find out.

If you already like frozen yogurt or remember it from the last froyo craze in the ’80s, go here. Everything you remember about it is still good, and this time it’s vegan. And don’t miss the Wall of Health Claims, a laminated poster devoted to various unlikely facts about frozen yogurt, including my favorite about how you’ll lose weight if you eat it every day. You can basically ignore everything the Wall of Health Claims has to say. I’m sure a tiny cup of frozen yogurt topped with fruit is better for you than eating a pallet of Twinkies until you collapse into a diabetic haze, but when you get down to it, you’re really just eating soft serve ice cream with a probiotic twist. There’s nothing magical about it. If you like the idea of soft serve with delicious toppings, Fraîche will scratch that itch. But you probably won’t lose weight. Also who cares, it’s dessert!

Frâiche is open until 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends, which makes them my new best friend. Find them at 1910 Fillmore St. in SF. In addition to the Palo Alto location, they’re also right on the Stanford University campus.


Review: La Méditerranée!  »

La Méditerranée is a local Mediterranean food chain with three locations, two in SF and one in Berkeley. Vegans can get a variation of the Salad Méditerranée which is hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, Armenian potato salad, lentil salad and green salad. If you’re feeling extra hungry and you’re with another person or a group, you can get a vegan version of the Mediterranean Meza which is basically what everything in the Salad Méditerranée and dolmas too. Actually, I would skip that because it’s like $5 bucks more and you can only really add dolmas if you’re vegan. They also have falafel at lunch but it’s usually sold out by dinner. Always one vegetarian (usually vegan) soup too, which is probably something made with lentils and very good. The best part though is that they serve a VEGAN CHOCOLATE CAKE! It’s not marked vegan on the menu but it is! And it’s REALLY delicious, rich but not overly sweet. Very, very good and perfect end to dinner. They also can make their coffee drinks with soy milk. Overall, a solid choice for vegans if you’re feeling like Mediterranean food. It can also be a good date place in the evening, all locations are dimly lit and romantical. The Berkeley one also has a delightful heated patio in front.

A while ago I was eating there with a guy friend and this rather cute but obviously insane dude came up to me and said, “when you’re ready to dump this cheeseburger and get with a real man, you should call me,” and handed me his number. It was truly an act of crazy, not to mention REALLY the wrong line to use on me. Logically my response was, “?!??!!” and my friend, Dave, said, “I’m sorry, CHEESEBURGER?” The little dude, looking at Dave, said, “Uh yeah, cheeseburger?”—then, looking at me: “I know this is weird but you’re cute and if you’re not really with him, I’d love to take you out for a drink or a coffee or something?” and I’m all, “Uh, OK, thanks?” Dave is cracking up at this point and the poor little guy turned bright red(der) and walked-ran away. Where do dudes get the balls to do shit like this??? I can’t even make the moves on someone who is like, “Let’s have sex.” Anyway, I’ll always love Le Mediterranee in Berkeley for that awesome memory. And no, I never called the guy. That’s a lie. I called but totally chickened out when I realized it was a number for a U.C. BERKELEY DORM. I’m like 52. Knowing the statutory rape law in California as I do, I chose not to leave a message. Still not sure if I regret this or not. To this day, whenever I email or talk to Dave the conversation will eventually go back to, “Remember that dude who called me a cheeseburger?? That guy was amazing.” And he was. I hope he’s with some girl who thinks he’s USDA Quality Prime Rib. Ugh, I’m grossing out over here, I’ll stop.

[photos via yelp]


Yum Yum what? Yum Yum HOUSE! A review  »

Once upon a time, there was a little restaurant with a bright neon sign called Yum Yum House. It was the best Chinese food for blocks—the meatless/mock/vegan chicken dishes were bountiful, the tofu was plentiful, the vegetables were varied and delightful. Yum Yum House’s deliveries were prompt and exact; they did not skimp on sauce; they never gave you a hard time over the phone. Nine months ago, had you asked me, I would’ve told you something like this:

The wonderful thing about Yum Yum HOUSE is that they will substitute almost any of their murdered-chicken dishes with tofu or “mock chicken,” so vegans & vegetarians have a larger selection than usual. Yum Yum HOUSE loves to make customers happy!

My ideal order from Yum Yum HOUSE: Chef’s Special Mandarin Chicken, and Szechuan broccoli. Those of us with larger appetites can also choose between a free (with orders of $10 and up) order of fried rice (no egg? no problem!) or chow mein. I always entertain the thought of putting on some rice after calling for delivery, figuring the delivery-person should arrive around the same time the rice is finished, and my rice is different colored and fragrant and fun; clearly superior to restaurant white.

If you can’t say no to free food, the fried rice no egg is better than the chow mein, which is too greasy for me. I spent a couple of my teenage years eating the cheapest, worst, most delicious chow mein ever: $2 for a box stuffed full of noodles, cabbage, and “chicken” if you wanted it, fifty cents more for a soda. O sodium. Two school years of that killed my taste for chow mein, so thought my gentleman-friend devours it, I can’t speak directly to its quality.

Yum Yum HOUSE! so nice, so timely, such reasonable prices. don’t ever change; unless you want to increase your vegan menu, in which case, send me a flyer post-haste.

However, sometime between then and now, YYHOUSE! lost its lease on the building on Valencia, and calling its phone number sent you to Jasmine Tea House (fine and all, but in my opinion inferior to YYH!’s menu). Depressed, we recycled the menu, and speculated about the fate of the amazing neon sign.

But suddenly, thanks to the magic of twitter and the size of our social circles (San Francisco: city and county: we run small), we have learned that Yum Yum House! has not vanished from our peninsula but moved to Pacific Heights, becoming the similarly yet-not-quite-as-appealingly named Yum Yum Hunan. Check the menu here; delicious and well priced Chinese food is one teeny phone call away. Oh! And if you are at all a fan of the purple giant, order the Yum Yum eggplant. It is somehow even better refried to crispiness the next day.

[photo by frankfarm]

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