Friday, April 17, 2009


We went to Stogo, a vegan ice cream parlor on 10th st between 2nd and 3rd.

Coconut and Coffee
I got two flavors in one cup. On the top is Coconut and at the bottom is Coffee. The texture of the Coconut was very creamy and the flavor was more than just coconut-y, it was vanilla-y. Which leads me to wonder if this was actually the Coconut Vanilla Bean, another flavor I see on Stogo's website. Whatever it was, it was good. The Coffee was not as creamy as the coconut but the flavor was great. Just the right mix of coffee flavor and sweetness. And of course coffee and coconut are two thirds of my holy trinity of dessert flavor which inspired a cupcake in a cookbook by our good friends Terry and Isa. -Jim

Salted Pecan Caramel
I've gotten this 2 out of 3 trips to Stogo and I really think this is the best flavor they have. The ice cream at Stogo tends to be very thick and dense, something that is undercut by the gooey caramel. The salt does well to break the sweetness of the cream, and the pecans are provide a nice contrast of texture. Next time I may even add hot caramel sauce for $1.00 more. I know! Craziness! -Ev

The Bottom Line
As summer approaches, I am getting excited about frequent vegan Ice Cream trips to Stogo! So far all the flavors I've tried range from good to awesome. They also sell pints that you can take home with you. At about $9 it's an expensive pint of ice cream. But this stuff beats the heck out of what you buy at your local grocery store. -Jim
Stogo is pretty awesome. The décor is just a sweet as their goods- slick stools inside and welcoming red benches out front. In addition to ice cream they offer Babycakes cupcakes and fine chocolates. I know I stick to one flavor when I order, but the nice thing is you can sample as many flavors as you'd like. Also- they are pretty inventive with their offerings; last night I sampled Goji Berry Crunch and Coconut Mango. And did I mention they have caramel and hot fudge for $1? I cannot wait for the summertime when their soft serve machine is up and running. I've been on the hunt for good soft serve for years and I have faith in Stogo to get it right! -Ev

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Veganfriendly on Tour: Portland, Or

Earlier this month we took a trip to the west coast and visited what might be the vegan capitol of America: Portland, Oregon. There were so many vegan-friendly places to eat that we couldn't possibly visit them all. But here are a few in case you want to visit Stumptown any time soon:

Hungry Tiger
Hungry Tiger is a cute, dark, and pub-like place with lots of light coming in through the windows. I ordered the mac n cheese which had yummy breadcrumbs all over it. It would've been awesome cold because the "cheese" would've been thicker and tackier but I scarfed it all down before I could test that theory. -Ev
I got the Scrambled Tofu with Biscuits and Gravy. The Scrambled Tofu was actually somewhere between a Scrambled Tofu and a Tofu and Vegetable stir fry, but it was pretty good. The Biscuits and Gravy were great. Hungry Tiger was definitely worth the visit. -Jim

Proper Eats
Sometimes when a vegetarian restaurant makes a big deal about being organic and local and healthy, I start to worry that the food is going to be bland. But sometimes I get pleasantly surprised by food that is all of those things AND delicious. This was the case at Proper Eats. I ordered the Nachos with all the fixins, so the chips came topped with rice, barley, black beans, salsa, corn-pumpkin seed relish, vegan sour cream, tempeh and guacamole. Sounds good, right? It was! It fulfilled my nacho craving but at the same time it tasted healthy and hearty. Also, the food at Proper Eats is colorful and pretty to look at. We heard some rumors about bad service, but it was fine when we went. -Jim
I thought Proper Eats was a a great cure for all the junkfood we had be scarfing down elsewhere. I ordered a side salad and the Cornmeal Tempeh Platter which came with with tofu-cilantro sour cream, pinto beans, quinoa, steamed greens, beets & seeds. This was really delcious, but I'd say to get the sour cream on side because it was all over the place. The basics were simple but tasty. The tempeh was yummy too but also very filling. -Ev

Sweetpea Vegan Bakery
When I first stepped into Sweetpea I was amazed at how huge it was inside. The high open ceilings and well spaced seating were a far cry from the claustrophobia of Atlas Cafe in NY. Everything looked so good we didn't know what to get. On our first trip in we split a big, moist and chewy pecan caramel brownie- which may or may not have been called a Derby Brownie, as I had just watched a Sons-of-Paula-Deen special on Derby Cake a few days before. It was a little dense but tasty. On our second visit I tried a little pink cookie like they serve in the Italian bakeries. I loved it, but would love it even more if it had been filled with jam rather than chocolate in the middle. Jim got a cupcake. We also split a strawberry parfait, which consisted of chocolate cake, yummy vanilla pudding and strawberries. It was so indulgent and so huge that we could only eat half of it. Sweetpea also has beverages. I was surprised at how good the spicy chai was. -Ev
Sweetpea seems to be THE vegan dessert destination in Portland. And it's part of the "Vegan Mini-Mall" which includes the Herbivore Clothing shop and Food Fight Vegan Grocery. -Jim

We went for Brunch at Veganopolis and were greeted by a cute, cafeteria style restaurant where you grab a tray and fill it with all the food you want, and the price is based on the weight of your tray. It was standard brunch fair: scrambled tofu, potatoes, fruit, and biscuit and gravy. Portland seems to be obsessed with biscuits and gravy. I can't think of anywhere in NYC that I can get vegan biscuits and gravy, but you can get it everywhere in Portland! I think the B+G was my favorite part of the meal at Veganopolis. Overall it was filling and good! -Jim
I thought the brunch here was just OK. But I've heard that their other stuff is really good -Ev

Nutshell is amazing! I would put it on par with the high-class vegan restaurants in NYC, but without any gloom or attitude- which is a very good thing! It is a tremendously spacious restaurant. The fuji apple salad was incredible- it had said apples, beets, microgreens and marion berries. YUM! I got the risotto cakes which were also amazing- so creamy and crusty. Probably the best restaurant in Portland. -Ev
I got the green chile and fruit tamales. Very good! Nutshell was probably my favorite out of the restaurants we visited in Portland. -Jim

The Mississipi Pizza Pub
Mississippi Pizza Pub is located on hip Mississippi Ave. We stopped here to grab some Lunch on the fourth of July. Unlike other Pizza places where you need to special-order a vegan pie, MPP has a vegan pie on hand and you can order by the slice. The vegan pie has Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, onions, mushrooms, roasted garlic, sun dried
tomatoes all on a pesto base. The flavor was great and, I know it's sacrilege for a New Yorker to say this about pizza from another city, but I really liked the crust. It was a really good consistency - crispy but not too crispy. -Jim
I loved this pizza! -Ev

Backspace is a sweet place that is again open and warm. I ordered the steak sammich, which had field roast steak, pepperoncini, peppers, and onions with rosemary basil vegenaise on a baguette. I thought it was deeelicious. It was my first time trying Field Roast which is made from veggies and not tofu. I did order pepperoncini on the side though, cause I don't personally don't like the flavor (Jim does). Jim got the El Jefe which had seitan, beans, guac, peppers and couscous inside a wrap. It was yummy but the ingredients weren't distributed evenly so halfway through it just became cold couscous. -Ev
Yeah there was a weird lump of what appeared to be couscous in the El Jefe. Besides that it was great. -Jim

Jáce Gáce
Apparently the cafe/gallery Jáce Gáce was named after a hang glider who really loved waffles, thus their specialty is waffles. I've never been hang gliding, but I do really love waffles. And Jáce Gáce delivers. Not all of their waffles are vegan, but they have several vegan options including a savory, Tex Mex waffle. I'm a waffle purist, so a savory waffle with beans and avocado isn't my cup of tea. But the Apple Cinnamon waffle that I had was awesome. I think I might have to go on a quest to find the best vegan waffle in NYC. -Jim
I loved both the sweet and savory varieties. YUM! -Ev

The Paradox Cafe was one place we had been to before the last time we flew out to Portland, although with new owners. I had the mac and not cheese with broccoli. It was in a thin, more stroganoff-y sauce but was still good. The biscuits n gravy were delcious and huge. We also split spicy potatoes, chili and cornbread. The cornbread was really sweet, almost like a muffin. I would recommend you eat here if you want large portions and a variety of food with fast service. -Ev
The rumor floating around was that Paradox wouldn't be as good as it was when we visited Portland five years ago, but I liked it just fine! -Jim

The Bottom Line
What can we say? There is just so much vegan food in Portland. I don't know if Portland has more vegan-friendly restaurants than NYC, but it certainly has more vegan restaurants per capita than NYC. Portland is a relatively small, cozy city but it's brimming with vegans and vegan food! Not to mention it's fairly close to other vegan-friendly cities like Seattle and San Francisco. Portland might just be the vegan capitol of the USA. -Jim
We barely scratched the surface of restaurants here. We even went to a vegan waffle cart, had amazing soft serve and curry (separately thank goodness) from Blossoming Lotus at the Let Live Conference, and had slammin' Ethiopian food. I also have to plug Food Fight because it was so awesome to walk into a grocery store and not have to read a single label. Hooray! -Ev

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Hummus Place

We recently tried out Hummus Place at 109 Saint Mark’s Place in Manhattan. Hummus Place is vegetarian and just about everything can be made vegan if you ask.

Health Salad
This was a healthy serving of healthy veggies- tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions in a super light dressing. Although a simple salad, there’s nothing like tiny niblets of fresh cool veggies to balance the face-stuffing that will ensue, what with the piping hot pita bread and ultra creamy hummus. Your tummy will thank you for filling it with some of this. -Ev

Side of Felafel
I've never really had hummus as a meal before, so I ordered falafel to make it feel more like a meal. Well, it turns out hummus makes an awesome meal, but I don't regret ordering the falafel. The falafel at Hummus Place is the kind I like: the moist, crispy ball variety that you get at Israeli places in NYC, as opposed to the dry patty you get at suburban Greek places. You get four balls on a little plate with Tahini and delicious green hot sauce. It's easy to get overly full at Hummus Place, but if you think you'll have room, I recommend the side of falafel! -Jim

Hummus Masabacha
To paraphrase our good friend Eppy, this was the hummus-y nail in the coffin of the Tribe of 40 Sheiks. It was a few years ago that I learned that Israeli-style hummus blew all other kinds away. And after years of enjoyment sampling here and there, the Hummus Place reigns supreme. (Just writing this review has me drooling and wanting some.) The Hummus Masabacha is a large bowl of fresh, creamy hummus with chickpeas and olive oil on top. I wish I could adequately describe how perfect this hummus tastes. Instead, I’ll focus on what it’s not- it’s not dry, lumpy, bitter, overly sesame tasting, overly lemony tasting, heavy or artificial in any way. The chickpeas on top are delicious in their own right, slightly sulfurous, almost eggy but really tasty. FYI, they’ll ask what kind of pita you want: regular or wheat. I always get the regular. Best pita bread evar. You’ll burn your fingers tearing it open but it’s so worth it. Sometimes they’ll ask if you want egg on top of the hummus, so just say no. They also bring out hot green sauce. Slap that shiznit all over. It is so spicy but AMAZING. Hummus is Yummus. -Ev

Hummus Mushroom
I wasn't sure what to expect when I ordered this dish. The menu said it was mushroom stew and hummus, and I didn't understand how those two things could go together. It never crossed my mind that you can take a bunch of hummus and make a bowl-shape in the middle of it and fill that bowl-shape with mushroom stew, but that's exactly what this dish is. And it's DELICIOUS. The mushroom stew by itself is awesome. It's kind of hearty and earthy, but at the same time it's got a tangy, almost pickley edge to it. As for the hummus, well Evelyn already told you how creamy and delicious it is. The two go together wonderfully. -Jim

The Bottom Line
It's so easy to write a bottom line for a restaurant that is so good. The bottom line is you need to get your hummus-lovin self over to Hummus Place and eat. The restaurant itself is really cute and deceptively large. You may think that it's just the small front room but it actually winds back to two other larger rooms. Plus the bathroom sinks are really cool. Not that that should be the reason you go somewhere, but still. OK stop reading now and go. Jim will probably just say the same thing. And we'll be here when you get back. So bring us some hummus. Thanks. -Ev
I have advice and a warning. The advice is that, whether you order The Hummus Masabacha or the Hummus Mushroom or some other Hummus entree, get the health salad and the felafel side, and combine it all together to make one big awesome meal. The warning is that what I have just described is enough food to feed a several people, so I recommend going to Hummus Place in a group and splitting things. Otherwise you will be terribly full of delicious food. -Jim

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Vegetarian's Paradise 2

Here are some more dishes from Vegetarian's Paradise 2. It's located at 144 West 4th Street. VP2 is a vegetarian (almost entirely vegan) restaurant specializing in Chinese Cuisine.

Corn Chowder Soup
Why do I love this soup so much? It's just a salty, starchy broth with bits of corn, tofu and mushrooms. There's not much to it. And yet I can't resist ordering it every time I come to VP2. I always get the small, which is plenty big enough to force me to take some of my entree home with me because I'm too full. I think this soup might not be for everyone, but I have to recommend giving it a try because I love it. -Jim

Siu Mai
Mmmm. I wish I had some of these babies right now. Lately, we’ve been ordering the Siu Mai everytime we come to VP2, and this time the outcome wasn’t any different; they were warm and delicious. They’re little dumplings with an exceptionally tender outside and an open top. Inside are soft and savory veggies and mock meat. I don’t know how else to describe them other than delicious mush with meaty surprises. They’re served with a salty-sweet dipping sauce. Did I mention YUMMMMM? -Ev

Sugar Cane Drumsticks
The Sugar Cane Drumsticks at VP2 are the mellowed-out cousin of the Buffalo Wings served at Red Bamboo. Both are made from the same mock-chicken, which has great texture and is yummy. But while the Red Bamboo wings are covered in rich, messy BBQ sauce and served with tangy dressing, the Sugar Cane Drumsticks are simply breaded and served with a chili sauce. Just because they're more mellow, though, doesn't mean they're not good. And at the core of each drumstick is a piece of Sugar Cane. The Sugar Cane doesn't actually affect the flavor of the drumstick, but it's still a neat little touch. -Jim

Coconut Shrimp
I can’t remember the fancy name for these, but you’ll be able to spot them on the appetizer menu. I always get nervous trying veggie seafood, ever since a particularly barftastic run-in with mock calamari a few years ago. These were mega-jumbo shrimp. The flavor was surprisingly shrimp-like and the texture more so. I enjoyed these, but overall I’d prefer them with a different coating. The coconut was tasty but verrry crispy and crunchy. I appreciate that they were trying something funky and different, but these would rock with the same panko coating that they use on the soul chicken. -Ev

Broccoli with Black Mushroom
This is not one of the more exciting dishes you can order at VP2. In fact, it might be the least exciting. It's just broccoli and mushrooms sauteed in a brown sauce. But after all the fancy, soy-based appetizers, we wanted something light and simple, and this fit the bill. The broccoli was fresh, not to soggy but not too crisp. I don't usually like big mushrooms in stir fry because they can be rubbery, but these were actually a good texture. The sauce was flavorful but not too heavy. If you're going to VP2 you should order the exciting mock-meat dishes, but if you ever find yourself in need of lighter fare, this is a good choice. -Jim

The Bottom Line
We thought we were long overdue for another review of Vegetarian’s Paradise 2, especially since our last one didn’t do it justice. VP2 offers consistently good food, and judging by this last visit, has expanded its menu with some more adventurous fare. In addition to new appetizers, there are some new entrees that sound fantastic. They’ve seem to have struck a nice balance of healthy/junkfoody, simple/daring dishes so you can tailor your meal to satisfy any craving. And their vanilla milkshakes are amazing! -Ev
We went all out appetizers on this visit, which I think is a great option at VP2. I feel like we each ate a pound of soy and washed it down with a soy milk shake. For the record, there are some pretty good not-so-soy-heavy options at VP2 as well, but the most exciting stuff they offer is their mock-meats. -Jim

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wild Ginger

We recently went to Wild Ginger located at 380 Broome Street in Manhattan. Wild Ginger is totally vegetarian and mostly vegan.

Pumpkin Soup w/ Sweet Potato & White beans
Holy Yum was this soup good. I was expecting a blended opaque orange concoction, but this was in fact broth-based with chunks of pumpkin, sweet potato, onion, tomato and white beans. I loved this soup. It was freezing outside and this completely did the trick. The broth was light but flavorful, without being too salty. The pumpkin and sweet potato were smooth and delicious. The beans were soft but still had some give to them. As Jim said, I won the soup round for the night. I'd go for some of this soup right now. -Ev

Seitan Skewers
This appetizer consisted of two skewers with Seitan, onion and pepper. Texture is very important to me when it comes to Seitan, and while this Seitan wasn’t the best I’ve had, it was pretty good and not rubbery like some Seitan is. The best part of the skewers was the sauce on the Seitan, which was sweet and salty and good. Everything on the skewer is lightly charred and it all went together nicely. -Jim

Tempeh Satay
I'm picky about tempeh, often finding it "footy" tasting, and yet I must've known to trust Wild Ginger because this appetizer had a good taste. These were soft tempeh cubes in a sweet-salty brown sauce. The texture of the tempeh was just chewy enough and the flavor wasn't too strong. -Ev

Malaysian Curry Stew
Wild Ginger is somehow related (same owner? Same chef? Same something) to Zen Palate and Gobo, because I’ve had a dish similar to this one at both those restaurants. At Zen Palate it’s called “Curry Supremo” and at Gobo it’s called “Slow Cooked Malaysian Curry”. I’m not complaining though, because I enjoy it at all three restaurants. This dish is soy protein, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and kabocha squash (those last two ingredients being unique to the Wild Ginger variation of this dish) in curry sauce. I really like it. The sauce is thick but not in a greasy way, and the flavor is rich but not overpowering. If I have just a tiny complaint about the broccoli and kabocha. While the potatoes, carrots and soy all work with the curry sauce and absorb it’s flavor, the broccoli and kabocha stand out in a non-stewy kind of way. But overall I really enjoyed this dish and I’d totally get it again. -Jim

Spinach Salad
This was a basic salad of spinach, pine nuts, beets, chickpeas, and sprouts. The yuzu citrus dressing was tangy and light. I wish I could say more about this dish, but each ingredient tasted like you'd expect. While it was fresh and delicious, I would probably order something a little more complicated next time.- -Ev

The Bottom Line
The bad news is that Wild Ginger is a little on the pricey side and it’s small so you might have to wait for a table. But the good news is that Wild Ginger has a big menu to choose from and it seems like everything on it is good. Also, the décor is fancy in a soothing, zen kind of way. So if you can make reservations (they take reservations for parties of three or more) and you have a few extra bucks to spend, this is a good choice. -Jim
I really enjoyed my meal here, especially the soup. For what it's worth, those Vegan-Haters also known as Time Out NY had voted this the best veggie dining spot. While not the best spot in the city, the food here was absolutely delicious. -Ev

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tiffin Wallah

We recently tried Tiffin Wallah at 127 East 28th St in Manhattan a cute and cozy Indian restaurant with plenty of vegan options.

Assorted Tiffins for Two
We had a bunch of friends with us on our trip to Tiffin Wallah, so we decided to get the Assorted Tiffins. This large appetizer consisted of a Vegetable Cutlet, a Samosa, and various Pakora and Bajjia. Or, to state it more generally, it consisted of a whole lot of deep-fried stuff. Now I'm all for deep-fried snacks, but this was the least impressive part of my meal at Tiffin Wallah. The Samosa was good. The cutlet was ok but a little too fried for my taste. The Pakora and Bajjia were a little bland. I'm not saying the Assorted Tiiffin was bad, it was just underwhelming. I'd probably go for the Idli or Batata Vada next time we want appetizers at Tiffin Wallah as Southern Indian cuisine seems to be their specialty. I should mention that a friend of ours ordered the Masala Spiced Cashew Nuts and they were great! -Jim
Mmmmm yeah. Those nuts were nuts! The samosa had a nice flaky outside but actually part of it was weirdly cold. The flavor was good though. The veggie cutlet was spicy and savory. The pakora were the best part. -Ev

Mulligatawny Soup
Ever since the Dosa Diner closed down I've been extra critical of Mulligatawny soups. Few places could match the unpredictable spiciness and bold flavor that DD had. The soup here, while tasty, was the furthest from any mulligatawny soup I've ever tasted. It actually tasted like pumpkin or butternut squash soup. It was a thinnish, orange concoction with a very mellow flavor. It was good, but don't go in expecting any lentil flavor. I should also mention the portion was pretty large. -Ev

Onion Rava Masala Dosa
We've been eating a LOT of dosas lately, but it's been a while since I've had a Rava Dosa, so that's what I chose here. It was good, but it was a little greasy and a little too crispy. Evelyn's dosa didn't have those issues, so I think next time I won't order the Rava Dosa. Besides that it was a good dosa experience though. Tiffin Wallah has Dosa Podi and Achar, two accompaniments that we discovered at (the now tragically closed) Dosa Diner in Jackson Heights. You have to order them seperately for a few extra bucks, but it's definitely worth it! Dosa Podi is a paste of delicious chili ground up in oil, and Achar is ultra-pickley Indian pickles. The potato filling in the dosas at Tiffin Wallah has peas in it, which I'm not a huge fan of, but other than that it's very tasty. -Jim

Mysore Masala Dosa
I've said it a dozen times, but to know me is to know I've never met a dosa I didn't like. However, this was a dosa first for me. The dosa was spiced and cooked to perfection. The texture was so perfect (not greasy) and the flavor was amazing. So much so that I, in fact, would get this Dosa without the potato filling the next time. The potatoes were moist to the point of being watery, and while they were tasty, they didn't mesh well with the dosa and actually took away from its perfection. Who knew this day would come? -Ev

The Bottom Line
Even though some of the items we ordered weren’t so great, I feel like Tiffin Wallah still has plenty of potential. Their (non-Rava) Dosas are good. The décor is nice. The prices are decent. They have all our favorite Dosa accompaniments. And there are a lot of items on the menu that we didn’t try that I would like to try. We’ll be coming here again. And we’ll let you know how it goes! -Jim
The amazingness of the mysore dosa was enough to get me coming back (sans potatoes). I agree that Tiffin has untapped potential and I am up for the tapping. -Ev

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Counter Brunch

We finally checked out Counter located at 105 1st Ave in Manhattan. Counter describes itself as an Organic Wine and Martini Bar / Vegetarian Bistro. We went on a Saturday afternoon so we got a taste of their Brunch menu.

Housemade Bakery Goodies
This dish consisted of a basket of muffins and loaf cake and a selection of spreads to adorn said muffins and loaf cake. It was a really fantastic way to start our brunch. We had Apple Muffins and Poppy Muffins and Banana Loaf, but the stars of this dish weren’t the baked goods but the spreads: Strawberry Butter, Sangria Marmalade and Housemade Nutella. My favorite was the Strawberry Butter, which was sooo creamy and delicious and was great on the muffins. But also fantastic was the nutella spread on the banana loaf, which came dangerously close to being more like a dessert than a breakfast. The best part is that this basket of goodies was only eight bucks, but it was more than enough to satisfactorily start the meal for our party of five. -jim
Word. I think it may have been raspberry butter, but nevertheless, it was tasty and deeelicious. The nutella was incredible. All of it was incredible. Yay food! -ev

Country Breakfast
Ever since the fateful day in Austin when we stumbled into Bouldin Creek, brunches in NY have seemed a little lackluster. But lo! My meal at Counter, while texturally different from BC, had the same fabulous brunch star-quality and scrumptious flavor. The tofu scramble was soft without being a personality-less mush. It was seasoned and salted to perfection. The home fries were sizable and had a great fresh flavor. They were hearty and browned on the outside, soft and moist on the inside. The Merguez soy sausage came curiously on skewers, and while mine were a little mashed, they tasted great. In addition to a nice palate-cleansing side of mesclun, there were thicker-than-average slices of whole wheat toast and (mmmm) more of that soy butter. -Ev

Frittata alla Fiorentina
Ok, so Evelyn just told you all about the Scrambled Tofu and how good it was in her Country Breakfast, right? So imagine this: take that scrambled tofu and put it on top of a bed of spinach and then put those on top of a muffin and then cover it all with a fantastic mushroom hollandaise sauce. Sounds good right? Well my description doesn’t do it justice. This was definitely in my top five, nay, top three vegan brunches of all time. The spinach and muffin gave it a hearty foundation. The tofu scramble was great (as Evelyn explained above). And the hollaindaise sauce was just divine: sharp and rich but not too heavy or overpowering. Also, the presentation was great (I always feel so fancy eating ring-molded food), and the home fries were a nice balance to the richness of the Frittata. This is definitely not the last time I’ll be eating this dish. -Jim

The Bottom Line
After months of friends and veganfriendliers suggesting that we try Counter, I have to say I am very happy we finally did it! Not only was the food delicious but the staff was totally nice (and wonderfully mustachioed). It was really affordable too, considering the quality of the food we got to eat (the entrees were around $9). I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes our regular weekend brunch haunt. Count on Counter for a delicous brunch! -Ev
Counter is a rather fancy, expensive restaurant, so I was ready to drop a fair amount of cash on this meal. But, as Evelyn said, it was only about 9 bucks per dish. And the quality of the food really made it a steal. Also, we don’t know how crowded it is on a Sunday (when most people go out for brunch), but on Saturday afternoon it was nearly empty so we had no trouble getting a table and enjoying a nice, relaxing meal. Great prices + great food + no wait = excitement about getting brunch at Counter more often! -Jim

Monday, December 31, 2007

Better Burger

We recently checked out Better Burger located at 587 9th Ave (they also have two other locations in Manhattan). Better Burger is health-conscious fast food joint with a decent selection of vegetarian and vegan options.

Homemade Veggie Burger and Smashed Potatoes
I think most vegans and vegetarians will agree that there are two types of veggie burgers out there. There’s the mock meat veggie burger which is usually pure soy and made to resemble an actual meat burger in appearance, taste and texture. And then there’s what I like to call the “health food” veggie burger, which is shaped like a burger and you eat it on a bun, but the texture and flavor and appearance are determined by whatever grains and veggies and other stuff that were used in it’s creation. I wish restaurants would specify which type they serve, as I’m often in the mood for one and I end up getting the other. At Better Burger, they offer both. From what I understand, the Savory Soy Burger is a mock meat burger and the HomemadeVeggie Burger is a health food burger. I ordered the latter. Health food burgers are often too mushy for me, but this one had a pretty decent texture. It was loaded with lettuce, tomato and onion and I applied some mustard and “cajun ketchup” from Better Burger’s extensive condiment selection. The flavor was savory and salty enough for my satisfaction. The Smashed Potatoes were good and creamy. The only thing I didn’t like about them was that the flavor had a hint of sweetness, which was a little weird. -Jim

Jumbo Soy Dogs (NYC Style) and Baked Fries
I was starving when I got to BB, and way full when I left. I ordered 2 Jumbo Soy Dogs topped with BBQ onions and sauerkraut (aka NYC style) and the Baked Fries. I loved the Soy Dogs, because they were indeed jumbo, and they sliced and grilled them so there was no rubbery quality. You can also order your dog Classic Style which comes with sauerkraut and relish, or even "Double the Dog" which gives you twice the dog on one bun. Like I said these were really filling, so I was glad that Jim had half of one. The Baked Fries, as oxymoronic as they sound, were decent alternatives to the fried fries of other places. I think they were best when hot, but when they cooled off they tasted like pure potato sticks and not so much like fries, and thus a little magic was lost. I prefer the smashed potatoes and will get those instead next time. -Ev

The Bottom Line
Eating vegan in the West 40’s isn’t too hard. Zen Palate, Zenith and Meskerem are all decent options. But if you have time constraints or financial restraints, consider Better Burger! My very filling burger and potatoes were less than ten bucks and I got them about five minutes after I ordered. Also, BB has a cute, fast food atmosphere but the food struck me as healthy and homemade. To complete the fast food vibe, you can order a soy milkshake. I can’t vouch for it because I didn’t try it, but I definitely will give it a try next time. -Jim
Better Burger was a delicious delivery treat when I worked in the vegan wasteland known as mid-town. I love their food and their mission. They also have great salad options with tofu or orzo, and usually have some kind of vegan dessert (packaged cookies or brownies). Like Jim, I look forward to trying their milkshakes! I can see what Jim says about the Smashed Potatoes being a tiny bit sweet but they are deeeelicous! -Ev

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dosa Diner

We reviewed Dosa Diner (located at 3566 73rd St in Jackson Heights, Queens) a while back and had some not-so-great things to say about it. But since then we’ve gone back many times and it’s actually become one of our favorite restaurants! I know, it’s shocking. But read on and we’ll reveal the reasons we changed our mind.

Mulligitawny Soup
This is a great soup to have on a cold day, or when you're coming down with something. Why? Because it is usually supremely spicy and will knock whatever chill or ickiness you're experiencing right out of your system. The level of spice varies from "ooh spicy" to "Womigod that's spicy", as does the amount of rice at the bottom (usually none). Jim and I usually share a soup, not because it's a huge portion, but because it's so spicy and filling and we want to save room for the Dosas. -Ev

Chutneys and Sauces
You might think it’s weird that we’re writing a separate review of the sauces and chutneys, but there’s a reason we’re doing it. And that reason is because they are AMAZING. The discovery of the chutneys and sauces is one of the biggest reasons that Dosa Diner has recently been upgraded from a restaurant that we weren't too thrilled with to one of our favorite restaurants. Ok, let’s start with the dark red sauce. We asked what it’s called and we were told it’s “Malakopita”, but I’m quite certain I’m spelling that wrong. Anyway, we were afraid to try it at first because it looks really spicey, but it’s actually not so much hot as extremely flavorful and rich. It’s chili-ey and salty and hard to describe but really good. Okay, on to the Mango Pickles (the chunkiest one). The Mango Pickles are bits of mango and vegetables that have been pickled so that they have a super-strong pickley flavor. They are so strong that we can only eat a little bit at a time, but we love them! I believe the orangey sauce is Garlic Chutney, because it’s very garlicky. It’s reminiscent of pizza sauce, though that’s a bit ethnocentric of me as I suppose an Indian person might say pizza sauce is reminiscent of Garlic Chutney. I’m not sure what the green chutney is, but I’m pretty sure the main ingredient is cilantro as it’s very tangy. These sauces, combined with the standard Coconut Chutney and Sambar that come with all Dosas, make your dosa experience a super-rich, ultra-flavorful roller coaster ride of deliciousness. My ideal bite of Dosa involves Dosa, Sambar, Coconut Chutney, Malakopita (sp?) and a little but of Mango Pickle. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but oh my god it’s full of flavors! Make sure you ask for the chutneys. We got lucky the fourth or fifth time we went to DD when they brought them out without us asking and we were like, “What is this stuff?”. We’ve been asking ever since! -Jim

Masala Dosa
Mmmm. The good ol' delicious Dosa standby. The Dosa itself is usually crunchy on the outside and slightly more tender in the middle. I find that the varieties of dosas also come folded in a variety of ways. The Masala Dosa usually comes as a large tube or a large triangle. The amount of potato may seem a little small, but it is very filling. The potatoes themselves are smooth and creamy. And of course you get lentil Sambar and Coconut Chutney on the side. Mmmmmm again! -Ev

Mysore Masala Dosa
The Mysore Masala Dosa is very similar to the Masala Dosa, which Ev just told you all about. So I’ll just tell you what makes the Mysore Masala Dosa different: spicey red chutney! The inside of this Dosa is coated in it. It’s actually similar in flavor to the Malakopita (sp?) I described earlier. Or rather the Malakopita that I didn’t describe earlier because it’s hard to describe. It’s a very rich, strong flavor and I love it. I generally order the Mysore rather than the Masala because The Mysore Masala Dosa is like a Masala Dosa only better. A +1 Masala Dosa, if you will. -Jim

The Bottom Line
We figured that since we go to the Dosa Diner almost every Sunday now, we owed it another review to show our love. Our first review was less than stellar owing to slow service and some bathroom issues, but all of that has been resolved. The guests at your table may get their dishes at different times, rather than all at once, but service tends to be fast enough and the food is really really good. Addictive, one might say. Especially with all of those delicious chutneys! See you there Sunday! -Ev
Yeah we’ve had a total change of heart about Dosa Diner. The service still isn’t great and the bathrooms can still be a little bit icky sometimes, but we are utterly addicted to the food. We literally go about once a week. In fact we’re probably going tomorrow afternoon, and I can’t wait! -Jim

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Knish Nosh

Knish Nosh is a famous Queens Knishery located at 100-30 Queens Blvd in Forest Hills. All the Knishes contain no dairy or eggs, so any non-meat Knish is vegan.

Kasha Knish
This was the only knish of the 3 we tried that I had dipped in mustard, although I did like its full nutty flavor. This was definitely the subtlest of the 3. It was hard to compete with the other varieties we tried, but I thought it was a nice palate cleanser, and could definitely see having one of these on a day I’d want to eat something “healthy”. I couldn’t really tell if there was any potato mixed in, or if it was just the kasha alone. The dough was also tougher than the other kinds. I would say, unless you have a pre-existing love of kasha or really want to go the plain route, you should order a different kind. -Ev

Cabbage Knish
The Cabbage Knish was the most unique of the three. First of all, the outside of this knish was more flakey and delicate than that of the other knishes. The inside, on the other hand, was the most moist and creamy of all of them. The potato was mixed with cabbage and red peppers, and the red peppers actually contributed a lot of flavor to this knish. In fact, if I had to name it, I would name it a Cabbage and Pepper Knish. Regardless, this was my favorite and I think Evelyn’s favorite, too. It was definitely the most exciting and flavorful of the bunch. The sexiest, one might say. Especially Ev since I think she has a knish fetish. -Jim

Spinach Knish
Oh YUM! This tasted like my grandma’s spinach pie (minus the sausage). The spinach was blended with potato to a salty creamy consistency. It was really rich and flavorful. The crust was tender and delicious. I’d say this was equal in awesomeness to the cabbage knish. I’m even drooling a little as I write this. Definitely try this one, it’s a winner! -Ev

The Bottom Line
It’s fun reviewing a New York City Landmark. Knish Nosh has been in business since 1952! And they definitely make the best Knishes I’ve ever had. But we did make one mistake and that was ordering three. One knish is more than enough food for one hungry person. We were super-stuffed when we were done eating. -Jim
I love Knish Nosh! I wouldn't say I have a knish fetish per se, but definitely I've been known to get knish cravings that drive me into a frenzy. I think knishes are the perfect comfort food because they're big, warm and mushy like a good hug. Also cute fact: my Mom used to go here when she was younger. I think Cabbage and Spinach are tied for first place so far, mayyyyybe Cabbage has the edge. I can't wait to go back and try the other varieties. Also, we'll have to try Yonah Schimmel for Battle of the Knishes! -Ev

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


We got some dinner at Dojo at 14 W 4th St in Manhattan. Dojo is not strictly vegetarian but has several vegetarian and vegan options which, we’re told, they offered way back before NYC was the vegan paradise that it is today.

Miso Soup
Until recently I was convinced that I only like Miso Soup if the ingredients are limited to little bits of tofu, scallion and wakame. But I recently had a realization and a change of heart. The reason I prefer it with minimalist ingredients is because the broth is my favorite part and sometimes, when other ingredients are added, they overpower the broth. I’m happy to announce that this isn’t the case at Dojo. Their Miso Soup does have some extra veggie ingredients in it, but the salty, delicious broth still shines. This was the first time I ever tried the Miso Soup at Dojo and I liked it enough that I look forward to ordering it again. -Jim

Hijiki Tofu Dinner with Brown Rice
Whenever we go to Dojo I get the same thing- the Hijiki Tofu Dinner with brown rice (you can choose from fries, homefries, or rice), salad, and an extra side order of Ginger Tahini Dressing. I love this dish. It is hearty, cheap, and filling. The Hijiki Tofu patty is thick and substantial. The Asian barbeque sauce that tops it is thin, and both sweet and savory. None of the elements are overpowering, including the Hijiki. I like the texture of the patty as well; it has a thick outer crust and a crumbly but firm inside. I usually pour the entire contents of the side of dressing on top of the patty and rice, but I make sure to leave plenty of uncovered spaces too. The dressing is simply smooth, tangy and delicious. I wuv it. The rice and salad are both standard fare, but everything combines for a great meal. If you opt for the homefries instead of rice, those too are good. I don't recall ever getting the fries, but I'm sure they're good too. -Ev

Soy Burger Dinner with French Fries
Most of what Ev said about the Hijiki Tofu Dinner applies to the Soy Burger Dinner too, as they are basically the same thing except that with the Soy Burger Dinner you get (surprise surprise) a Soy Burger instead of Hijiki Tofu. There’s really nothing burger-ish about the Soy Burger. It’s just a breaded-and-fried ball of textured soy. It’s kinda mushy but just firm enough not to bother me (I’m not a big fan of mushy soy products). The burger comes pre-doused in the delicious Ginger Tahini Dressing, but I still get an extra order of the dressing on the side just like Ev, because you really can’t have enough. I also like to get avocado in the side, which I chop up and add to the salad. Oh, and I prefer the fries to the brown rice. Not the healthier choice but the yummier one in my opinion. -Jim

The Bottom Line
Dojo is one of those cheap vegetarian staples. I would advise against going there late at night and stuffing your gut, as this could lead to bellyaches, but for a quick, inexpensive meal you really can't go wrong. -Ev
Dojo is so cheap and very tasty. I like how the Soy Burger and Hijiki Dinners are 3 part meals (crisp salad, starchy fries/rice, and soy protein) all on one plate and unified by that wonderful dressing. Did we mention you should always order extra dressing? Because you should. By the way, I’m pretty sure there are other vegan-friendly options at Dojo, but you might never hear about them here because we’re so hooked on the dishes above. -Jim

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pizza Plus

We tried Pizza Plus at 359 7th Ave in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It’s an old school pizza parlor that recently started offering soy cheese and fake meat options.

Sun-dried Tomato and Pineapple Pizza
Yum! I sustained my first roof of the mouth cheese burn in 12 years eating this delicious concoction, but it was well worth it. pineapple and sun-dried tomatoes are both strong flavors, but they’re on opposite sides of the spectrum and their delicious battle is fought on your taste buds. I also tried a bite of my friend’s Sausage and Pineapple pizza- more timid of a combination, but still delicious. -Ev

Sausage, Pepper and Onion Pizza
The fake meat du jour at Pizza Plus was sausage, so we decided to go all out with a Sausage, Peppers and Onions Pizza. Everybody knows that sausage, peppers and onions go great together, and combining them atop a vegan pizza is no exception to that rule. The variety in texture was nice on this pie. And I think the sharpness of the toppings overpowered the flavor of the Follow Your Heart soy cheese a little bit, which is good, because I like the flavor of Follow Your Heart, but I don’t love it. -Jim

Broccoli Rabe and Caper Pizza
So this one was Isa’s famous combo. It’s weird because I liked it, but it was so strong I could only eat half a slice. The capers were good n’ salty and the broccoli rabe was a nice change from the other textures but it seemed the soy cheese flavor was amplified in this combo and was very heavy. It could be that this was my 3rd slice of pizza and the soyness was getting to me. Or it could be I wanted another slice of the Pineapple Pizza. Who knows? I will say this- it’s a few days later and this is the one I’m craving. Sneaky pizza. -Ev

The Bottom Line
We were dying to try Pizza Plus because we heard really good things about them. We heard that they perfected the art of a vegan cheese pizza, that they melted the cheese just right so that it wasn’t solid but it wasn’t just oily goo (any vegan who’s ever tried to make a pizza with vegan cheese knows what I’m talking about here). Well, I definitely enjoyed my pizza. The crust was good, the toppings were great and super-fresh, the place was pleasant and conveniently located and the staff was really nice. Did the cheese live up to the hype? Not really. It was a little gooey. But no big deal. It was still good and I would definitely eat here again. -Jim
I also enjoyed eating here. The staff was really nice. I think the large pies are the way to go as they are more pizza-y than the smaller ones. The smaller ones are delicious, but a liiiiittle bit thicker dough, where as the large pie had a thinner bottom and puffier crust. Also, I agree about the cheese. Our friends' table next to us got the melted perfection we had heard about. Our table got cheese that was soupier/stringier, although once it cooled off more it congealed into a better texture. All in all, it was great to stuff my face with pizza and I look forward to going back! -Ev

Monday, October 01, 2007

Kate’s Brooklyn Joint

We finally got a chance to check out Kate’s Brooklyn Joint located at 295 Berry St between 2nd and 3rd in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Kate’s Brooklyn Joint, much like it’s Manhattan ancestor, is all vegetarian and mostly vegan.

Sesame Unchicken Wings
When I go to Kate’s joint in Manhattan, I often get the Buffalo Unchicken Wings, which are basically huge slabs of tofu, fried with a crispy breading, slathered with spicy tangy buffalo sauce and served with creamy dipping sauce. I like ‘em. The Sesame Unchicken Wings we got at Kate’s Brooklyn Joint followed the same formula (dippable slabs of tofu), except that the breading was different, there was no sauce on the tofu, and the dipping sauce was different. As much as it pains me to say anything negative about Kate’s Joint, I didn’t like these so much. While the tofu was very crispy, it wasn’t very flavorful, and while the sweet and savory dipping sauce was good, it didn’t quite make up for the blandness of the tofu. Sorry, Kate’s Joint, I’m just not into this one. -Jim

Country Hearth Salad
Having always gotten the Country Salad at Kate’s Manhizzle, I ventured to new territory to celebrate Kate’s new territory and ordered the Country Hearth Salad. Holy Yum. This salad rocked because it was a delicious combination of warm and cool. Cool crunchy lettuce, warm mushrooms and roasted potatoes, artichoke hearts, some thing tofu-y thingies and maple dressing. What is not to love? Throw in an order of their Unturkey Soup and you’ve got a comfy fall meal. -Ev

Southern Fried Tofu Cutlet Sandwich
This sandwich is one of my Kate’s Joint staples at the Manhattan location, and I’m happy to announce it was just as good at their BK location. At the heart of this sandwich was a tofu cutlet. The tofu itself didn’t have too much flavor, but the breading had great flavor and texture. That cutlet, along with lettuce, tomato and tasty vegan mayo, was put on Kate’s famous focaccia bread, which I really can’t get enough of. It was a darn good sandwich. But even better than the sandwich was the mashed potatoes and gravy, which were just perfect. Here’s a trick I like to do sometimes: get an extra side of gravy, that way you can dip the sandwich in it (yum) and make sure you have plenty of extra gravy for the mashed potatoes (also yum). I’m pretty sure you can get your choice of bread, though I can’t imagine why you’d get anything but the focaccia bread, and your choice of mashed potato vs fries, but you should get the mashed potatoes. I guess what I’m saying is that you should eat this exactly like I eat it, and, more generally, you should like the same things that I like. -Jim

The Bottom Line
So the results are in: whichever borough you venture to for grub, Kate’s Joint will bring you tasty food and swell décor. And now I have a new favorite dish to order. The only factor that remains unsolved in this Manhattan vs Brooklyn battle is the how the hotness of the BK waiters compares to the near solar temperature of Kate’s Joint NYC. We had a waitress. Pretty, but she wasn’t no Jake. Sigh. -Ev
I can’t believe this is the third time we reviewed a Kate’s Joint and we have yet to review their desserts! Kate’s Joint has really good desserts, just trust me. Some day we’ll review them. Anyway, the food at Kate’s BK Joint was pretty much identical to the food at the Manhattan Kate’s Joint, which means it was pretty darn good. It’s nice to have yet another vegan option to choose from when visiting Williamsburg. -Jim