vegansaurus!

06/16/2014

Beyond Sushi serves all-vegan sushi with extra flair in NYC!  »

imageMeave and I had the pleasure of visiting NYC’s Beyond Sushi (Union Square location) last week and we were pretty much blown away! Seriously, I didn’t know sushi could be so fun—and so vegan!

People have always told me about different places with such and such vegan roll and I’ve always been like, “whatever, I just like avocado rolls! Why I gotta go somewhere special for that?” Little did I know there’s a big, exciting vegan sushi world out there! What an idiot I was. But we live and learn, yeah?!imageWe started off with some of their yummy juices. These are not the cleanse type, which is good because that’s not my steeze. I got the cucumber mint lemonade and it was SO GOOD. Meave got some sort of watermelon juice that I refused to try because watermelon is bleh! But my juice was the yum.imageNext, we had one of their wraps. I wasn’t that excited because I think of wraps as just like a bunch of raw veggies pretending to be a sandwich. Boy was I delightfully surprised! This Nutty Buddy wrap ended up being maybe my favorite thing we had. It was full of buckwheat noodles, cashews, carrots, cilantro, jalapeño peanut butter, avocado, sesame oil, tofu, and lettuce—whoa! Plus it came with a side of sweet soy mirin sauce. I love the noodles and peanut butter!!! I could eat this every day. 

imageNext came the sushi! OMG how pretty, right? On the very left is their most popular roll, the Spicy Mang: black rice, avocado, mango, English cucumber, spicy veggies and toasted cayenne sauce. A lot of their rolls use black rice, which is actually more purple. It’s really good. It’s a bit sweeter than white rice and just has more flavor in general. imageIn the middle, is the roll of the month! Every month they have a special roll. For June, it’s this fun eggplant roll: black rice, roasted eggplant, avocado, and baby arugula topped with rosemary infused butter bean purée and roasted roma tomatoes infused with garlic and thyme. YES. I was all, “I didn’t know you could even have sushi like this” and Meave is all, “well, it’s BEYOND sushi!” Haha, indeed. 

The third roll was the Mighty Mushroom: six-grain rice, enoki, tofu, shiitake, and micro arugula with a shitake teriyaki sauce. This was my favorite! The shitake teriyaki sauce on top was so good. 

imageWe also had two of the individual pieces, baked tofu with chili mango. AWESOME. 

So, if you couldn’t tell, we love Beyond Sushi! I warn you if you go though that seating is limited. But we got there at 6:30 on a Tuesday and there were plenty of places to sit. But by the time we left, people were waiting to sit. I also advise that you TRY EVERYTHING! Because it’s so good. Oh, besides the one in Union Square, there’s also a location in Chelsea Market.imageBONUS! They have all these exciting almond butters they make in-house! I got my big bro this truffle oil/thyme almond butter because those are his favorite things and I’m so nice to him. 

Disclosure: we dined for free because we are very fancy! I paid full price for the almond butter though, and I’d do it again! Because I’m so nice to my big bro!

02/13/2014

Three Letters serves delicious French-inspired vegan eats in Brooklyn!  »

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That’s Meave seated at the bar. She was dressed like a librarian, i.e. I had the hottest date in the place. 

Three Letters is a casual French-American spot in Clinton Hill, BK. They are not a vegan restaurant and maybe that’s why they were a bit off our radar, but it turns out they have SO MANY vegan options! And we are not talking a thawed Garden Burger here; Three Letters has some serious vegan food. The chef, Pip, invited Meave and me to come by for a free tasting, which of course we did because we are so selfless in our journey to provide you with all the important veggie news.

We loved the place as soon as we walked in because it’s freaking adorable. It’s like a real brasserie! Pip came over and introduced himself, and now he is my new favorite person. He’s not vegan (anymore), but he knows a lot of vegans and wanted to make sure the menu had good veg options. But there is no half-stepping for Pip! The vegan items on the menu are unique, elaborate, fun and, most importantly, delicious! He said he made it a point to make the vegetarian options (almost) all vegan, too, because vegetarians are usually happy to eat vegan and cheese is apparently boring to cook with. Pro tip: It also comes out of a cow’s boob! Ick!

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It was total mood lighting so the pics didn’t come out that well, but trust these things look nicer in real life. We started with fried pickled veggies and chickpea creppettes. 

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The pickled veggies were good but I’m not super into pickled stuff. The creppettes were my jam, though! And Meave loved the chimichurri sauce they came with, too, which was bright and herbaceous and perfect.

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Above is a collard green chiffonade salad with mustard vinaigrette. Yummy! Even I liked it and I think salad is for squares. Raw collards are way better chiffonaded than used as a “gluten-free” wrap at a raw place.

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OK, oK, here we have a bowl of their mushroom soup—or as we will now call it, a bowl of magic! I like mushrooms but I don’t think I’d ever order a whole mushroom soup. WHAT AN IDIOT IT’S THE BEST THING EVER. This soup, a mushroom broth with sautéed mushrooms, chive oil, kale chips, and tofu, was my absolute favorite thing we had. And it was hella cold yesterday so this was basically perfect. 

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The above is the tempeh bon mise. It was super good. If you like beefy flavor, this is your new best friend. The bread was great, too!

We also had the seitan au ragout which was awesome but didn’t photograph well. It came with the crispiest brussels! Plus the walnut oil mashed potatoes tasted both walnutty and potatoey, and the texture was perf under the crispy, meaty seitan and crunchy sprouts.

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Finally, we had this adorable apple cobbler. Meave loved it so much and basically ate the whole thing. JK! But I did let her have a bite or two. The crust on top was really nice—thick but not too dense. 

Oh and we also had some of their wonderful wine that’s ON TAP! Wine on tap! Hilar! It was great. And I had an apple ginger hot toddy which definitely hit the spot on the cold night. You could totally just go there for drinks, too, but because you always want a snack when drinking, you should 100 percent order the crepettes. You’ll feel so fancy and be so happy.

All in all, we love this place. The atmosphere is great, and there are so many different yummy vegan things to try! And like I said, this is not a vegan place. They serve all kinds of meat. I think that combo makes it special in NYC, where it’s hard to find a place that satisfies your omni fam but also has some awesome vegan options for you. It’s a tall order! Usually we just go to the omni place and get the salad sans chèvre. BORING. But now we can go to Three Letters! Huzzah!

SPECIAL HEADS UP! Three Letters is having a super fun Valentine’s Day event. They are having a prix fixe menu for you paired-off lovebirds, with vegan options complete with flourless chocolate and hazelnut cake (!!!) that Pip says is amazing. But they are also having a PALentine’s Day menu, too! Groups of three or more can get their own prix fixe menu full of vegan options. The Palentine’s special is $30 each and instead of a wine pairing, it includes a pitcher of beer! How cute? Hint: SO CUTE! Pals can also get the vegan flourless chocolate and hazelnut cake (!!!). Which is all I really care about. Well, the cake and the beer. Cake and beer are my best pals!

01/27/2014

Maimonides Of Brooklyn serves the vegan deliciousness  »

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I went to Maimonides of Brooklyn for brunch yesterday with my fave vegan couple. It was the second time I’d been there and reminded me I never posted about the first time I went! With the same couple, but for dinner. M.O.B.’s, as they call it, is pretty freaking awesome. It’s a vegan spot on Atlantic right by Barclays. I haven’t had the signature dish, some sort of pizza/flatbread shaped like the Brooklyn bridge, but everything I have had has been delicious. Above you can see the eggplant biscuit sandwich I had yesterday. The eggplant was smoked and didn’t taste very eggplant-y, which scores points in my book! It kind of tasted like bacon without the death. And I love the aioli on this! Oh and the biscuit itself—oh the biscuit itself! In a modified word, the biscuit sandwich is super-terrific. 

Now, here are the pics from my dinner there many moons ago! I don’t remember a ton of specifics but I remember I liked everything. And dang, these pics came out well! If I do say so myself. 

Yummy nugget things (the mustard that comes with these does have honey, so ask for mustard without honey—they are happy to oblige):

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Tri-color cauliflower! So good and so pretty! The aioli on this was the jam: 

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The veggie burger gets an A++!:

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Below is the mac and cheese with artichokes. I remember I liked it but it was slightly odd. I prefer the veggie burger. But who am I kidding, I’d totally get this again!

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And for dessert, chocolate hazelnut torte! Very rich and creamy: 

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The place is not big and you do have to sit at communal tables but I’ve never had to talk to strangers (heaven forbid!); It was still like I was just there with the people I came with. Maybe because the tables are so roomy. Honestly I’m not one for communal seating but it doesn’t bother me here. 

For some weird reason this place doesn’t seem to be well-known. I have no idea why—it’s great! The food is delicious and the atmosphere is fun and positive. I love it. 

Coincidentally, my cousin, the famous philosophy expert, just released a podcast on Maimonides, the philosopher for which the restaurant is named. Time for some learning!

12/11/2013

Spreads NY brings vegan flavors to the Park Avenue lunch crowd!  »

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So I started a new job a few weeks ago. One morning I went to Spreads, a little sandwich place right across the street from my new office (30th and Park), and low and behold! A vegan earl grey donut! I said to myself, “is this real life?” And it was! I bought one of course. 

It was tasty! It tasted less like a donut and more like lemony pound cake. Luckily, I love pound cake. It’s also gluten free, which I know some of you will like. 

Obvi I had to tell the vegan world about my new discovery and I tweeted a pic on our Twitter account. Next thing I know, Spreads emailed me inviting me to come try all of their vegan goodies! I obliged, because I’m a sweetie. image

Above is the coconut bacon and avocado sandwich. It’s a show stopper! It was our favorite item we tried. It’s rich though, I could only eat half. But the salty and sweet coconut bacon goes lovely with the avocado. It also has vegan mayo they make themselves—yum!

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This is the split pea soup we tried. Two thumbs up! But I love split pea soup. I feel like it’s finally on the rebound since the Exorcist debacle. This had a hint of dill, which was interesting. 

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Finally, we got to try one of their juices! I’m not a big juice person but I actually found this refreshing. Strong cucumber flavor. Kind of tasted like gazpacho? Maybe I’m being cray. 

We also met the owner—what a dream! SO passionate about food. And I love that the one vegan sandwich on their menu is a wacky coconut bacon sandwich instead of just like a veggie burger or generic veggie wrap like we’re usually offered. No, Spreads went all out! Of course I want everywhere to have a million vegan sandwiches but if you’re only going to have one, it’s really cool when it’s something exciting like this. OMG and did I forget they make the coconut bacon themselves? They smoke it with organic apple wood or something—totes intense! 

If you are in the area looking for a yummy lunch, this is the place for you! Matter of fact, call me and we’ll split one! You’ll have to get your own donut though. I need a whole one! I’m no fool. 

01/28/2013

Bliss Grand: New vegan restaurant in Brooklyn!  »

About two weeks ago, I got to attend the opening celebration of the new Bliss Grand restaurant in Williamsburg, BK! Finally I can tell you all about it. The Bliss Grand owners have another venue in the area, a more casual place, but they wanted to open a more upscale restaurant. Mission accomplished! The place is very nice. Here’s the back bar area:

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I love the exposed brick! The party was hosted by none other than Joshua Katcher. Here’s our handsome host:

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To his right is the main dining area.

I totally drilled Joshua on vegan fashion. He told me he has some more items coming out from Brave GentleMan now that he’s launched the suits. He’s going to have some more affordable accessories and home items to complement his suit line. We also discussed the diligence it takes to create ethically sourced, sweatshop-free fashion. He is thorough! 

They had a number of dishes out for us to try. My favorite thing we had were these little empanadas!:

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Well actually, the empanadas were great, but it was the sauce that blew my mind! It’s a cashew margarita cream sauce and it is out of control delicious. It had a rich parmesan cheese flavor. And it totes has tequila in it because they are hardcore. 

Other super popular items were these truffle oil fries (we eat truffle oil, no? They don’t still use pigs to find truffles, do they?) and this kale salad. Someone said the fries were possibly the best fries they ever had. And they were definitely delicious:

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Other than the amazing food, I must also say the owners were incredibly nice. And not JUST because they kept me rich in delicious vegan wine. 

The Bliss Grand is located at 167 Grand street at Bedford. Definitely worth the trip!

08/28/2012

Guest Post: San Diego Part 1: Evolution Fast Food  »

Alternative title: ”Hey, we have vegan food too!”

Growing up in Rhode Island for the better part of my existence, I’ve grown accustomed to having my local habitat being played as the second fiddle. The music and art industries, whether through concerts, shows, or just the available exposure itself to these, seemed to skip the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (yes, that’s our real, full name) altogether. Everyone assumed this was do to our close proximity to Boston and New York and no one from Lil’ Rhody (yes, that is our real “nickname”) wants to drive to New York or Boston because they’re “wicked fah!” San Diego, I find, kind of sees similar persecution. America’s Finest City is well-populated, and has its own vibe with plenty of culture. But we in the vegan community never seem to hear much about what St. Diego has to offer by way of animal-free food consumption—instead, we in SoCal hear much ado about L.A. More people, mainly us compassionate ones, should know of the mini-vegan food Mecca that is in San Diego.

San Diego was supposed to get the mother of all vegan restaurant chains, Native Foods Cafe, but that either fell through, is still being constructed, or Monsanto stepped in and bought the property. Having a world-renowned chain like Native in The 619 (or The 858 or The 760) would have been huge. Both for me and my friends who live there but also for the San Diego vegan community. However, there are equally as tasty treats deep within the cozy confines of the city. If fast food-themed is your bag, similar to Native Foods, there is Evolution Fast Food. E.F.F. is a must-see for me each and every time I’m in S.D. I have a “go-to” choice and “back-up” ready to order. A back-up is sometimes needed because they tend to sell out of their daily “specials.” Which leads me to believe they have a good sized customer base ready and willing to try new things. During my most recent visit just this past week, they had a new special available of which just the description alone made me weak in the knees and caused cold sweats. It was like I was back in high school when my man parts would do what they wished, when they wished. Male-hormonal rages aside, this is what the board read:

"California Burrito"

  • Carne asada
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Fries
  • & cheese!

And all these fine basic descriptors were supposedly wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla. I say supposedly because that Bad Larry was sold out. Bummer. Upon learning the bad news I was back in flashback mode, this time elementary school when I learned Santa Claus didn’t actually check his list twice. Luckily, my standby order is impeccable and cured my sadness post haste. I’ve been a burger-and-fries type of guy since long before my vegan days. And the Bacon Cheeseburger at E.F.F. fits the bill to a T. They’ve recently started using Gardein for their patties on all their burgers, but if processed mock meats aren’t your thing, they also have a house-made bean patty option. I’m a fan of Gardein, so I recommend the O.G. version. The bean patty is too… beany.

Options are always awesome as a consumer, especially when you’re a vegan consumer when you’re about to consume vegan goods. It’s like little bits of Christmas morning each time someone behind the counter asks you a closed ended question regarding your order. In addition to the bean patty or Gardein patty, you can also choose between standard fries or the sweet potato version. I’m excessively sweet as it is, so I always opt for the regular spuds. I’m kidding. Sort of.

Evolution Fast Food isn’t really known in my circle of non-vegan compadres in San Diego. Most think it’s still called one of their previous names and others assume all they serve is wheat grass shots and tofu slabs. It’s a brilliant take on the prototypical fast food menu, just vegan’d out. But they also do soft serve ice cream, smoothies and desserts. Best of all, the entire restaurant is 100% vegan. So you’ll never have to worry about cross contamination or wondering if a bun or slice of bread is also fitting to your compassionate ways. There is also a “drive-thru” window, perfect if you’re feeling nostalgic and want to re-live the times the whole family went down to those golden arches. As far as convenience however, you’re better off parking and walking up.

Stay tuned for San Diego Part 2: Ranchos Cocina!

Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, California.  He co-created and contributes to a Rhode Island based Hip-Hop website, The Echo Chamber Blog, under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.

02/22/2012

Meet the spicy green leaves salad with spicy bean curd dressing, crispy tofu, topped with crispy rice noodles at the Green Elephant in Portland, Me. It costs $6 (WHAT) and Erin of Olives for Dinner had this to say about it:

this salad is amazing. Super-fresh and packed with tons of crisp carrots, tomatoes, tofu and noodles, it’s the perfect dinner to enjoy after gorging on multiple appetizers. I love it that Green Elephant isn’t stingy with any of their sauces, which allows for a liberal drenching over every inch of a dish.

Read the entire review of her meal (with photos) at Green Elephant! It sounds so so good! Thanks for letting us know, Erin!

Meet the spicy green leaves salad with spicy bean curd dressing, crispy tofu, topped with crispy rice noodles at the Green Elephant in Portland, Me. It costs $6 (WHAT) and Erin of Olives for Dinner had this to say about it:

this salad is amazing. Super-fresh and packed with tons of crisp carrots, tomatoes, tofu and noodles, it’s the perfect dinner to enjoy after gorging on multiple appetizers. I love it that Green Elephant isn’t stingy with any of their sauces, which allows for a liberal drenching over every inch of a dish.

Read the entire review of her meal (with photos) at Green Elephant! It sounds so so good! Thanks for letting us know, Erin!

06/15/2011

Guest review: Azna Gluten Free bakery!  »


I was visiting Never Felt Better in Sacramento when the owner, Shawn, gave me a tip: if I had the time, I should visit the gluten-free and vegan bakery called Azna Gluten Free, located in Cameron Park (about 30 miles east from Sacramento). It happened that I did have the time, so I decided to make the trip.

Although Anza normally offers sandwiches, burritos, lasagna, and calzones, in addition to their sweet items, they didn’t have any sandwiches available to eat when I visited; I made do with a baked good instead. Of course, it was still difficult to make a decision. After conferring with a fellow customer and gazing over the display, I picked a mini cinnamon roll and blackberry scone, as well as a spoonful of some roasted yams and sweet potatoes (cooked with olive oil and many seasonings, and the only savory items available).

Really, EVERYTHING on their menu is vegan and gluten-free; I could eat ANYTHING I wanted. I was in special-diet heaven.

The scone was a little crumbly, but the berries added sweetness and made it a little moister. The mini cinnamon roll was chewy and yummy and just the right size. The roasted yams were delicious, I couldn’t believe how well-seasoned they were. I wanted to just keep eating them, but I got too full.

The service was friendly and fast, even though there was just one guy there, and he seemed to be in charge of baking AND serving the customers. Prices were on the moderate end—my entire “meal” cost $10.25 with tax—and I left feeling more than satisfied.

Geanna lives in Portland, Ore. where she can be found hiking, eating, or writing about food (sometimes she goes to work, too). Find her on Twitter @greenvegnliving or check out her blog, Green Vegan Living.

01/27/2011

Guest review: Sage’s Cafe in Salt Lake City!  »

OK, more like a guest review-by-text. My dad, who is a very nice person who introduced me to kimchi and cooking without recipes, spent two nights in Salt Lake City recently, and because he is a very nice person, he agreed to eat a vegan dinner and take photos, just for Vegansaurus! I would’ve asked you readers for recommendations if there’d been more time; instead we did this last-minute style and asked Google, which said: “Sage’s Cafe.” So there my dad went, and these are his results!

Tuesday was all-you-can-eat vegan pizza night (OMG WHERE IS THAT HERE, BAY AREA? WHERE?) but my dad opted for a French onion soup, and basil pesto pasta with walnuts, because he is a man with self-control? He didn’t really provide an explanation, but one of his dining neighbors offered him a taste of her pizza (woo woo!) and he said it was “good.” But, let’s get to the food he did eat. First, the soup:

He says it “was delicious!”


Main course: basil pesto pasta!

I can’t comment on the quality of the food, except to say that vegan French onion soup sounds delightful and I wish I had some right now. My dad says that the food was “excellent,” and the service “efficient and friendly.” If he happens to be in SLC on the next all-you-can-eat vegan pizza night, that’d be his choice, as there were “many different pizza choices.” Pithy! Also via text message!

[Thanks to Meave’s dad for the photos, and for making this review happen!]

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