vegansaurus!

07/30/2009

Heaven’s Dog  »

Firstly, I wish it had a different name. “Heaven’s Dog" makes me think of gourmet hot dogs or some such, and I don’t want to make a special trip for gourmet hot dogs, however the rest of the world feels, I just don’t like them in that way. Luckily the restaurant doesn’t actually have anything to do with hot dogs, gourmet or otherwise, so if you get over the silly name then you should be fine. The food is good, and on the low side of expensive (about equal to Beretta), but nothing to really flip for. Let me tell you why, at great length!

Laura and I went on a Monday night, and it was slow as anything, hardly anyone was there. I think there was a family, as in, at least two adults and their coordinating small children finishing their supper when we arrived, somewhere around 8. That was unexpected, the family, but the kids weren’t loud or anything, and it was a Monday night, so maybe not so surprising. Our waiter seemed very Monday-night, quite mumbly and new. He was nice and helpful, knew what was and wasn’t vegan, asked about a substitution for us, and had good timing. He just seemed a little meek for the cutthroat world of restaurant service. Again, though, it was a slooooow Monday night, definitely a good time for a quiet waiter to work.

We ordered three items off the regular menu—two appetizers and one main dish—and the special appetizer. This was plenty of food for two people who love eating. you can't see, but in the sauce are whole cranberriesAlso, one cocktail each. Laura was most excited about the vegetarian pork belly dish, so obviously we had to order it; we also got an edamame salad, the dan dan mei (with flat rice noodles substituted for egg), and the special, kabocha done tempura-style.

The kabocha was marvelous. It was battered and fried, but much lighter than tempura, and the batter had some kind of seed crushed in it? Or maybe seaweed, because it was salty in a lovely fishy way that contrasted neatly with the sweetness of the squash. If it had only been cooked a bit longer—a few of the kabocha pieces were a bit too al dente. It could’ve also been accompanied by more tasty cranberry sauce, alas.

I liked the edamame salad pretty well; the “bean curd ribbons” turned out to be sort of tofu sliced to resemble noodles, and they were my favorite part, I guess because of the texture. Not quite raw noodles, you know, but cool and a little chewy and exactly right. The rest of the salad was fine; I expected more from the pickled mustard greens—I expected more pickled mustard greens—but, no big deal.

Unfortunately for the two of us, the vegetarian pork belly came three on a plate. Fortunately, they were all excellent, and as Laura is a supremely good friend (who had already asked for an order of them to take home to her boyfriend), she let me have the second one. They are made of mushrooms inside tofu skins topped with scallions and cradled inside pretty white clamshell buns, and you pinch them shut like teeny tacos and eat them up in two bites, chomp chomp, and they are scrumptious. They come with a sauce, which is fine, but I think they would’ve been better served with that cranberry sauce from the kabocha special.

The dan dan mei was not what I was expecting—it turned out to be this big creamy mess of noodles, with little pieces of tofu and some chilis here and there. There isn’t a picture of it because by that time I believe the photographer was overwhelmed by our meal, and tired of pausing before diving into the food. This was also the case with dessert. Very intelligently, Heaven’s Dog offers only three desserts, and one of them is vegan, hooray. It is a chocolate sorbet with a little salt—big fat black grains, name I can’t remember—on top of what they call a cherry compote that was actually just big fat cherries that had been soaking in some kind of sweetish-sourish sauce. The serving was plenty large enough for two to share, especially considering the size of our preceding meal.

Some notes: While the website claims the restaurant is inside the Soma Grand Hotel, a more precise description would be “shares a building with the hotel, but no connecting entrances, so don’t try to get into the restaurant through the hotel lobby.” It’d be a nice place to go if you are around Civic Center and loathe to go up the hill to Little Saigon/the ‘Loin. As ever, while the four dishes we ordered were confirmed vegan, I can’t speak for any of the other vegetarian items, so ask first, or order just like Vegansaurus did and ensure cruelty-free satiety (HO HO clever!).

06/22/2009

Philz Coffee vs. Rodger’s Coffee and Tea!  »

creepy!Why am I comparing the two? Because one, I love to pit friends against each other in a bloody battle for my affections and two, they both specialize in “One Cup at a Time” coffee. If you live under a rock (or not in the Mission), what that means is, you choose exactly what type of beans you want, and they grind and brew them, mix in your desired quantities of sugar and soy milk, and deliver your dream coffee beverage. IN THEORY. In reality too, actually. After visiting both multiple times and sampling their wares, I can safely say: all this shit tastes the same, might as well be Folgers. If you’re looking for a detailed breakdown of the nuances and complexities and all that made-up bullshit people like to talk, look elsewhere! Hey Condescending Jerkface, this site isn’t called Pretentiosaurus! Although, maybe it should be. Let’s put that in the hat for our next meeting.

So, I’m gonna talk about the pros and cons in terms of vegan baked goods, and the general feeling I get from the place; that’s just how it works around here.

Vegan baked goods
Philz: Carries vegan donuts from People’s Donuts: you’ve come a long way, baby! These are SO MUCH better than when they debuted. In fact, they are downright delicious and come in a variety of flavors, from Newman’s Own (CRUSHED COOKIES ON TOP OF A DONUT. Take a minute.) to blueberry to Bac-O-Bits (!? I don’t know, whatever, I guess the vegans want in on a slice of the bacon money. Because you can serve human shit as long as it’s wrapped in bacon and a group of devotee dumbasses will slurp it up. UGH GROSS). They are all excellent but my favorite remains the cinnamon sugar. Perfect. They also sell Zoe’s Cookies' banana-walnut chocolate-chip cookies, and they are incredible; maybe my favorite vegan cookie in wide circulation in SF? Yes, I think so. They sometimes have some vegan loaf breads but I haven't seen those lately. They are tasty.

Rodger’s Coffee and Tea: VEGAN BEIGNETS CAN I HEAR SOME NOISE FROM THE BACK!? Yes, they sell vegan beignets. Yes, the fluffy fried dough balls covered in powdered sugar. And yes, I want to marry them. They are soooo delicious and rich and you feel like you’re eating a funnel cake and ugh, they are so amazing. One of the best vegan baked (fried?) goods I’ve had ever and a reason to visit Rodger’s alone. WARNING: they are only available on weekends! But maybe if we are always buying them all, they will get wise and know to carry them every day, even Christmas. ESPECIALLY CHRISTMAS.

They also sell an excellent mushroom-and-spinach vegan empanada. Bring it home, heat it up (or have them do it) and enjoy your VEGAN HOT POCKET, BITCHES! And this one won’t try to kill you! They also have a large selection of vegan cookies from Alternative Baking Company (bo-ring but thanks for having them!) and some other vegan trail mix bars and shit. I don’t know, granola bars? Yawn.

General feeling I get from the place
Philz: Good. I like it. Kinda like your grandma’s living room if your grandma was kinda crazy and into the internet.

Rodger’s Coffee and Tea: Good. I like it. Kinda doesn’t seem to know if it wants to serve hipsters or yuppies so hey, let’s hit up both! Whatever, did I mention VEGAN BEIGNETS? Not tons of seating but you’re close to Dolores Park so go there anyway. Bench out front is good for judging LAME AND HIDEOUS* passersby.

BONUS QUESTION: Have I met this “Rodger” and/or this “Philz”?
Philz: His name is Phil and yes, he’s very nice! Also, a friend of mine was Phil once for Halloween and it was amazing.

Rodger: No, but his friend came to a Rocket Dog Rescue fundraiser and gave out coupons for a free cup of coffee! He seems like a good guy to me. These coupons are actually a genius take on the frequent buyer card: your first cup of coffee is free, as well as your last. (Does Philz even have a frequent buyer card? If they do, they don’t market them very well!)

Conclusion
Why not go to both!? Start at Philz, grab several donuts, eat on way to Rodger’s, buy beignets and empanadas, eat on way to Philz. Repeat. YOU’RE WELCOME.

*see!

06/03/2009

Island Earth Farmers’ Market in the Metreon!  »

The Island Earth Farmers’ Market opened on May 15th in the Metreon (in the old Discovery Store space) and we hear that it has tons of vegan options, from vegan dim sum to vegan Afghan food to vegan pastries to an entirely veganfalafel stand! Has anyone been!? We’re gonna check it out tomorrow and want a heads-up on what to pig out on and what is funk nasty.

Expect a full report on the deliciousness or non-deliciousness of the Island Earth* Farmers’ Market after my stomach is pumped tomorrow. THE THINGS I DO.

*Island Earth? WTF? Sounds like a cult. Or a drum circle filled with dreaded (literally and follicularly) white dudes.

Update! So I’ve been twice now and these are my thoughts:

It has kinda has a third-world bazaar feel to it. This is both good and bad. Mainly just kinda weird. Now let’s get down to why we’re here, THE EATS! Vegan selections include juices, smoothies and other vegan snacks from Juicey Lucys, outstanding plantains from Soleil’s African Kitchen, many dim sum choices from the organic dim sum place (but pricey! ranging from $1.50-$2 a piece!), this flat, crepe-like bread from Bolani that’s stuffed with ingredients ranging from pumpkin to potato to spinach to lentils! Delicious and you can buy a container of dips, sauces and spreads too and most of those are vegan. Alive vegan raw foods has a stand with salads, sandwiches and more! Panorama Baking has a booth with lots of vegan loaves that were really inexpensive, I got a huge loaf of rosemary bread for $3! I didn’t see any vegan pastries but there is a chocolate place near the entrance to Yerba Buena Park called Vice and they had several vegan candy bars…I got the dark chocolate and sea salt and it was EXCELLENT! Oh and an all vegan falafel cart with very good falafel! They have two sizes, a large one for $7 and a smaller one for $4.50! I had the smaller one and it was plenty big, especially after sampling everything else! I am a glutton! Oh and a few fruit and vegetable vendors AND an outpost of our favorite San Francisco Herb Company! Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. Limited seating but you can go into the park when it’s nice or I’m sure loiter inside the Metreon when it’s crappy.

04/01/2009

Amici’s!  »

Amici’s pizza has seriously stepped up the New York-style pizza game in San Francisco. As of this past weekend, they started serving vegan cheese. It’s melty, gooey, tasty Cheezly vegan cheese* and it is marvelous. A little vegan birdie told me that this would be happening months ago and I dared to dream but didn’t think too much about it because if it didn’t happen, I would’ve been all stabby. But then the day came and vegan cheese is on the menu and, my friends, it is a damn good day.

Amici’s is a local chain with two restaurants in San Francisco and the others spread out all over, from San Rafael to VACAVILLE. HOLD THE PHONE. YOU CAN GET VEGAN CHEESE PIZZA DELIVERED TO YOUR HOUSE IN VACAVILLE?! Yes, yes you can. And oh yeah, they have a pretty large delivery area so check their website to see if you can get it delivered right to your mouth. And the variety of toppings is outrageous. We got our pizza with fried eggplant, slow-roasted garlic, carmelized onions, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts. It was about $30 for a large but you know what? It will make two meals for two people. Not bad. Also, I have salad makings from Farm Fresh to You so I GUESS I can/should/won’t eat the delicious yet fatty pizza with a disgusting yet nutritious salad. I GUESS. Ugh, why does FFtY not deliver vegan pizza and chocolate bonbon’s?! I’m turning into some unnatural combination of Peg and Al Bundy over here. Help.

So stop reading this and get on their site and ORDER ONLINE (no talking to another human! Can I get a what-what for the technology!?) and have vegan pizza at your doorstep in 45 minutes. Oh and let them know you’re thankful for the vegan cheese and maybe one day soon, they’ll start offering their four-cheese lasagna vegan-style. Hyperventilating at the thought. They could use Cheezly, Dr. Cow, Sheese and Teeze and make THE MOTHER OF ALL VEGAN LASAGNAS!!! Ugh, now I’m Garfield.

*Cheezly is a hard to find British vegan cheese that they’re now selling at Rainbow! I like the extra melty mozzarella and the bacon flavored best. The bacon-flavored cheese is especially good for mixing into creamy sauces, gives them a carbonara flavor! Ow!

02/25/2009

Supperclub in SF is having an all vegan week!  »

So this is kinda last minute but everyone’s favorite bizarre cheesy restaurant where you eat on beds and the waiters dress like Burning Man refugees* and do crazy ass trapeze acts between courses is having an ALL VEGAN WEEK! It goes from yesterday to Sunday, March 1st and it’s a 3-and 4-courses prix fixe menu with only one seating nightly at 7 pm. You have to call to make a reservation at 415-348-0600 or go to their crappy website and it’s probably $$$ but I’m telling you, good or bad, there is no other dining experience like it. Also, might be cool to show up and be all, “MAKE EVERY WEEK VEGAN WEEK LET’S PARTY WOO!!!”

From the fools at Supperclub: “We like to create new and exciting experiences our guests,” says supperclub’s General Manager, Edme Straver. “For those who follow a vegetarian diet, the menu will be a welcome pleasure—and for those that do not usually eat strictly vegetarian, the menu will be a revelation.” DANG.

*Dude. A guy who lived in my dorm at NYU is a waiter here. That makes me sad. How do you go from promising star in one of the best film schools in the country to delivering jello custard cups wearing nothing but spandex short shorts and cat face paint? I mean, the kid won the Wendy Wasserstein award, for crying out loud. I guess much the same argument could be made for me except I probably make less money than him. And I never won any awards. Now I am more sad.

Oh also, there are handcuffs in the bathroom. GRODY.

12/10/2008

Review: Chevy’s Fresh Mex!  »

I was a waitress at a Chevy’s one summer break from college. Oh fuck off. Like you never gave a blow job you didn’t regret. Actually, I waitressed at the Chevy’s in Alameda which was the VERY FIRST CHEVY’S EVER. Thas right. Chevy’s originated on The Island. You’re surprised? Alameda is basically Texas-Mexico. I know, I want to burn the whole Island down too. Anyway, that Chevy’s is now defunct but I picked up some odd shifts at different Bay Area Chevy’s and have eaten at a few (I KNOW) so I feel qualified to write a review about them and let’s be honest, even if I didn’t, I’d write it anyway.

Now, the only things to really eat at Chevy’s as a vegan are the chips, the salsa and the margaritas. Four food groups covered? Check! They actually have a large and decent tequila selection and I recommend a top shelf on the rocks with salt. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO GET THE FROZEN MARGARITAS. They totally skimp on the amount of tequila to nasty-sweet-slushy ratio and the only buzz you’ll end up with is a cold freeze followed by a shitty sugar rush. Or fuck it, who are we trying to kid? You’re at CHEVY’S. Get a MangoGuavaWatermelonRita with seven pieces of giant fruit and nine Mexican flags hanging off of it. It might be 2,000 calories and not get you even remotely drunk but you’ll be this ridiculously ridiculous American asshole drinking a fake margarita at a fake Mexican restaurant and let’s just do the damn thing!

You might also consider enjoying some fresh flour tortillas from “LA MAQUINA”. I’m pretty sure that’s Spanish for, “TERRIFYING DEATH TRAP”. It’s this insane tortilla-making machine that looks like a medieval torture device. They have one at every Chevy’s, lucky you. When I worked there, I had nightmares about getting my arm caught in LA MAQUINA and being left with a tortilla for a hand. Scary business. You can also get some shitty salads and a veggie fajitas plate but what’s the use? I already told you your dinner is seven margaritas and 10 baskets of chips. Oh also, don’t forget about,”El Happy Hour" (I couldn’t make this shit up) where all well drinks and some crappy beers are $3 from 4 to 7 p.m. I don’t think they do this in the SF locations because they know we can afford their ridiculous prices. Assholes.

Speaking of, since I’m always drunk off my dinner when I’m here, I can’t really comment on the service but I’m guessing by my skillz in that department that it’s pretty fucking horrendous. I was either drunk, high or completely disinterested during every single one of my shifts. In fact, I was probably a better waitress drunk than I ever was sober…at least then I was TRYING to focus so that I wouldn’t bite it when walking to your table or like, throw up on you. I’ll tell you another thing, fucking people who eat at Chevy’s are the fucking worst. I had my ass grabbed by a GUY WEARING A BACKWARDS BASEBALL CAP, I was referred to simply as “Red” by several dudes old enough to be dead and I can’t even tell you how many times I was condescended to by the Beverly Hillbillies out for a fancy dinner at Chevy’s. I made it a point to mention 19 times each shift that I was on BREAK from COLLEGE in NEW YORK CITY because I just couldn’t stand being asked if, “I understood the order?” one more time by some twat with seven teeth. Either that or I’d tell some bizarre lie about how I was a scientist from NASA who recently cracked the Flux Capacitor and traveled BACK through TIME into the FUTURE to er, wait tables at Chevy’s Tex Mex.

This is also the place where I learned from Sonya, the giantess Swedish bartender, to always order a “Crown and Water” on a date because even though it tastes like earwax, men love it. I’ve found this secret to be very true and ladies, I pass it on to you today. I’ve drank so many of these that I actually like the taste now, go figure. It’s no Midori Sour but come on, what is? There is no competing with the King of Girl Beer.

I hope this review doesn’t get me sued.

Logistics: Chevy’s has nine Bay Area locations, four in SF. Mostly downtown-ish and one in Stonestown shopping center. You might be forced to go there on a work-type event. That is when this review will help. I think.

[margarita photo by dipdewdog; la maquina photo by americanvirus]

11/06/2008

A native New Yorker’s guide to real bagels in San Francisco  »

I’m in New Jersey right now, hiding out and hustling from my parent’s dining room. My mother bought me a package of bagels from New York and I have been slowly devouring them, with my coffee in the morning/afternoon (can’t quite get on East Coast time), which made me want to talk about where to get bagels in San Francisco.

Now, if you live in California and you’ve had the pleasure of biting into a New York bagel, let’s make something very clear: bagels in San Francisco are a compromise, a test of your true love. Your palate will adjust, but there’s nowhere on the West Coast that has bagels that are as good (something about the water, I hear?).

That being said, I only consider two places in town as bagel contenders.

Katz Bagels in several locations: Lower Haight, the Mission, and SOMA
The bagels themselves are OK; when eaten fresh they are doughy and satisfying, and certainly not as sweet as a Noah’s Bagel, but I mention Katz here because they are vegan-friendly. They carry Tofutti, including the Herbs & Chives variety, which you can then load up with vegetables if you wish. You can also get peanut butter or hummus on your bagel if the sometimes plasticky taste of Tofutti bugs you.

House of Bagels in the Inner Richmond
Personally, I like House of Bagels the best. They’re a very close approximation of a NY bagel and they even taste okay if you don’t toast them (I have never toasted a bagel until moving to California, TRUE FACT!). However, no vegan-friendly toppings here, so you’ll want to buy a dozen and take them home and do with them what you will. There are a few places in town that sell them, including Real Food and Rainbow, so you don’t have to go to the Inner Richmond if you don’t want to.

What are your favorite places to get bagels in town?

[photo by Rusvaplauke]

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