Today, I experienced my first time dining out vegan. . . with company.
Up until today, I have eaten at the following places: a local pizzeria with vegan options, a “fresh Mex” chain with vegan options, a certain “Mexican” fast-food corporation with easy vegan substitutions, and a local sushi joint featuring over 40 vegan rolls.
I first went with a very non-vegan crowd to Godfather’s Pizza. My vegan dining “honeymoon period” screeched to a halt. I had considered a cheese-less veggie pizza, but was disappointed to learn the crust is not vegan.
I stuck with the salad bar and threw together just about all the vegan things at the bar (with the exception of beets and banana peppers, because gross). This resulted in a sad salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, matchstick carrots, broccoli, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, bac-o bits, and a tangy vinaigrette.
I’m probably coming across as very whiny, but I just can’t stand iceberg. This was also my breakfast since I work graveyard on weekends, but I did end up snacking on a Larabar Alt (Apple Pie) from my purse.
Still a bit hungry, my dad came to my rescue when he texted me and asked if I wanted to go with him to dinner. I graciously accepted and we ended up going to Greatfull Gardens, which I’ve wanted to try ever since I discovered the neighboring Batch Cupcakery.
Greatfull Gardens is a reasonably priced local eatery which caters to specialty diets (vegetarian, vegan, paleo, etc.) and uses locally grown organic produce whenever possible.
I started off with the Haute Chocolate, and was excited to see almond milk as a substitution. Almond milk, I find, has become something of a fad lately, and I am forever grateful(l). I prefer the creaminess of soy milk, but my under-active thyroid means I need to not consume it in excess. The cocoa was tasty, if unexceptionable: sweet, chocolate-y, and slightly watery. Very good for almond milk.
For dinner, I decided on the Pasta Alfredo (broccoli subbed for peas). My steak and potatoes dad surprised me by ordering Juli’s Brown Rice Sauté (brown rice, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, white beans, avocado, cucumber, cilantro, lemon, and olive oil) and was gracious enough to let me snap a picture and sample a bite.
My pasta was surprisingly convincing as a copycat dish, if under-seasoned (which was easily fixed thanks to a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper). It came with a side of garlic bread which tasted even better. The bread was so delicious, and so visually appealing, that I had to double check its vegan-ness with the waiter (100%, the yellow hue comes from Earth Balance and not milk-fat butter). The only complaint I could think of is that the broccoli was mostly stems. The original dish came with peas, however, so this would be a silly thing to complain about.
The rice bowl was hearty, healthy, and delicious. While I’m not sure I would order it myself (eating out = unhealthy treat!), I could definitely imagine replicating this in my kitchen for a healthy meal. It offered a variety of flavors and textures, from creamy to a crisp crunch.
I’m not one to usually notice atmosphere, but I ate it up at Greatfull Gardens. There was a mural on the main wall, and the tables and chairs were of various sizes and colors. The water was served in jars, and poured from what seemed to be an up-cycled wine bottle.
Even the restroom was cute.
From inspirational messages on one wall. . .
To polka dots covering another. . .
I was in love! (The fact I matched didn’t hurt, either!)
On my way out, I couldn’t help but walk into Batch Cupcakery. . .
Which had ran out of vegan cakes! I was a bit disappointed, but took it as a sign to get my ass in my own kitchen instead. Which I will try to do. Eventually. This week. Maybe.