Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cafe Sunflower, Atlanta

When I last visited Atlanta like 10 years ago, the best place to eat was Cafe Sunflower. I remembered this cafe as having exceptional food back then as one of the only vegetarian restaurants in the city and I was excited to come back this time to see if it was as good as I remembered. The cafe has two locations -- we visited the one in Buckhead.

The dining room is quite casual with simple chairs and tables. The lighting and artwork make it really pop though.

The first time me and my friend went, it was for lunch. I was disappointed to see that the menus are entirely different for lunch and dinner because the fancy stuff was on the dinner menu. But, we made the most of it. Most of the food is vegan, but they do offer some dairy cheese as an option on some dishes. I started with a tasty Angel Greens juice. Made fresh with kale, celery, ginger, lemon, cucumber, apple juice, it was just what I needed to jumpstart my day.

For an appetizer, we started with the Buffalo Lollipops. Despite its humorous name, these soy chicken drumsticks coated in housemade buffalo sauce were amazing. The vegan blue cheese dressing was great as well. Wow.

For my lunch, I ordered the Quinoa Avocado Burrito. It was simple, fresh, and delicious. Unlike many other places that skimp on the avocado, this burrito was loaded with avocado as well as quinoa, steamed spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes in a spinach tortilla with chipotle aioli dipping sauce.  It was very, very filling. This dish came with a mushroom barley soup and a nice salad as well. All of it was very good.

My friend ordered a special -- the Taco Salad. This bowl was filled with mixed greens, avocado, black beans, radish, chorizo with bell pepper, pico de gallo, Daiya cheese, and chipotle sauce. He loved it.

After that experience, we came back with friends for dinner. We started with an Artichoke Spinach Dip and more of the Buffalo Lollipops. Both were a hit among these non-vegans. I didn't think the dip was all that great, but everyone else did!

For my entree, I ordered the Chimichurri Seitan Steak. It was so good. Layers of grilled seitan were doused with chimichurri sauce over a cauliflower potato mash and served with asparagus.

One friend ordered the Orzo Egpplant Lasagna and this one was fantastic as well. Layers of baked portobello mushoom, eggplant, zucchini, roasted red pepper, spinach, and tofu ricotta orzo pasta made up this masterpiece. The slow-roasted shallot marinara and grilled asparagus on top were just the icing on the cake.

Another friend has the Fettucini Alfredo special, which was okay, but not great.

Another friend had the Sesame Soy Chicken dish and loved it. I did not try it, but it looked great.

Between the two visits, I give this restaurant an A+. The service was fantastic on both visits and the atmosphere is lively. The entrees are quite pricey at $19 to $22 each, but the food was great overall. If you are in Atlanta and are looking for a casual restaurant with great food, this is the place.

Cafe Sunflower
2140 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 352-8859

Cafe Sunflower Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Herban Fix, Atlanta

It isn't often that a restaurant blows me away with superb dishes, but that is the case with Herban Fix. Herban Fix opened in 2015 in Atlanta by Chef Wendy Chang and her partner to bring vegan pan-Asian to the city.

The restaurant is really nice. With incredibly high ceilings, beige walls, and orange chairs, you get the feeling of a big open space in warm environment. They even have private dining rooms on the second floor.  And I love how they have an open kitchen right in the back so you can watch the chefs at work.

The first night we went there was interesting. Me and my friend ordered two dishes to share.  The first one was the Curried Rice Noodle with Mushrooms and Seasonal Vegetables. It was loaded with broccoli, eggplant, tofu, squash, bean sprouts and green beans. It looked great, but had some odd off-putting taste. Regardless, we ate it, but couldn't identify the weird taste.

We also ordered the Crispy King Oyster Mushrooms Glazed with Sesame Soy Au Jus. This was listed under the entrees, but looked more like an appetizer. The deep fried mushrooms were atop wilted spinach with a delicious sesame sauce and sesame seeds. We loved it.

For dessert, we had the Carrot Cake. Goodness was this good. It had just the right moistness and the icing was rich and delicious. Great presentation too.

I left there satisfied, but I didn't love everything, so we gave it another shot. On the second night, we started with Sesame Ginger Soy Chicken and Shiitake Kebabs.  With green and red bell pepper, the soy chicken and shittake mushroom kebabs were as amazing as they look. It was a great start to dinner.

For my entree, I ordered the Seared Pom Pom Mushroom Steak. Over a bead of greens, they took pom pom mushrooms and formed it into a filet mignon-type dish. It was unbelievably rich and meaty. It's one of the best dishes I've had in a while.

My friend ordered the Soy Beef Noodle Stew with Asian Greens. His dish was as good as mine! Soy beef with noodles, greens, carrots and more in a delightfully tasty broth -- oh my.

And just like that we both got blown away with our food. There was no room for dessert this time. I'm so glad we came back. This restaurant is by far the nicest vegan upscale restaurant in Atlanta. The service was good, prices appropriate at $15 - $20 per entree, and the food was spectacular. Highly recommended.

Herban Fix
565-A Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 815-8787

Herban Fix - Vegan Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Me Jana, Arlington, VA

Me Jana is a Lebanese restaurant that has been open in Arlington, Virginia since 2007, yet I had never heard of it! So, when a friend suggested Me Jana for dinner on a Sunday night, I was excited.

The large restaurant is situated very close to the Courthouse metro station. Inside, it is more elegant than I had expected with dark wooden tables, printed upholstery, and dim lighting. We were seated at a table in the main dining area.  We both ordered glasses of Chardonnay as we perused the menu.

The server did not seem too confident about what was and wasn't vegan so I took him through what I thought could be vegan and he confirmed or denied the items. That was helpful. Later I found that there is a clearly labeled vegan menu online!

We decided to order a bunch of dishes to try them tapas-style. First, we received the Fatteh, which was fried baby eggplant with pine nuts, chickpeas, and garlic (sans yogurt). This dish was my least favorite of them all as it tasted like steamed eggplant. Without the yogurt, perhaps a tahini-based sauce would have made it much better.

Next, we tried the Tabouleh, which was really good. A nice balance of parsley and mint with not too much lemon made this a great, light salad that complemented the other heavy dishes.

The Falafel was good, but a bit too deep fried for my liking. It wasn't bad, but some of the gourmet falafel I've had in DC is definitely better.

The Hummos was great and a nice basic, crowd-pleasing dish we could share with pita.

The Grape Leaves were good as well.

All in all, it was a good experience. The service was good, the food was good, and the prices were reasonable. I think it's a good Lebanese staple in the area.

Me Jana
2300 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 465-4440

Me Jana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Zest Kitchen & Bar, Salt Lake City #2

After I had such a great experience at Zest this past year, I had to come back for more. So, on my way out of Salt Lake City, the night before my flight would take me away from all of the beautiful mountains, me and my friend stopped by for a final dinner.

On this particular Saturday night, there was a DJ, dancing, and hook-ups going on. We had just finished five hours of driving after a full day of jumping and were exhausted. We definitely didn't expect the liveliness we witnessed here! We were seated right next to the dance floor so we got quite the show.

I started with a berry lavender lemonade, which was really refreshing.

Zest is a vegetarian restaurant and most items are or can be made vegan. We ordered the Baked Mushrooms as our appetizer, which were baked mushrooms stuffed with cashew cheese and served with pesto and red pepper coulis. These had a beautiful presentation, but when we tried them, they lacked some flavor. Just one more ingredient would probably give it the oomph it needed.

For my entree, I got the Shakahari Curry Eggplant and, man, was this dish loaded with flavor. I've never tasted anything like it in my life. The eggplant was battered and covered with pepitas and baked and served with fennel curry potatoes and a cucumber mint lime salad. It was so filling that I couldn't finish it and that's saying a lot! I liked it, but it was a bit overwhelming with the different flavors.

My friend ordered a more subtle Stuffed Avocado Salad. He loved it. Made with romaine, seasoned walnuts, pico, cashew sour cream, and cilantro lime vinaigrette, it had just the right balance of flavors.

All in all, we were both pleased with our meals. I think Zest does a really good job with serving unique vegan meals in a low-light, romantic, yet casual setting. It's still one of my favorite places in Salt Lake City.

Previous review
August 3, 2016

Zest Kitchen & Bar
275 S. 200 W.
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 433-0589

Zest Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Peace Tree, Moab, UT

As one of the few restaurants in Moab that bases its business on organic food, Peace Tree Juice Cafe has been on my hit list for a while. In a brown lodge-like building is a large organic restaurant that caters to individuals with all kinds of dietary preferences including gluten free and dairy free.

This will be a very short review and isn't representative of them because I just grabbed one item to go. We stopped by around 10 a.m. hoping to grab a lunch we could stick in the cooler to eat while BASE jumping. Unfortunately, the only item they could make at that time that was grab and go was the basic Hummus Wrap.  Well, we'll take it.

When we finally tried it, it was very basic. Just spring mix, cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, and artichokes with hummus on a spinach tortilla. I had expected something a little more exciting and felt disappointed by the dish. Especially for $10. It did come with a salad, but still.

So, more to come on Peace Tree next time I am in the area. I'll definitely try it again because there's some cool stuff on the menu.

Peace Tree Juice Cafe
20 South Main Street
Moab, UT 84532

Peace Tree Juice Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Shire City Herbals - Fire Cider

The benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar are not largely debated as study after study has proven its health benefits. Shire City Herbals has taken this healthy vinegar and combined it with other good-for-you stuff to make a delicious tonic called Fire Cider!

As a vinegar-based tonic, it'll cause your mouth to pucker. So, just one tablespoon per day should do it for you. The original one has honey in it, but now the Unsweetened version is 100% vegan. Made with oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, garlic, turmeric, and habanero pepper, there isn't one ingredient in the bottle that isn't super good for you.

I love the way it tastes--you get the pucker when you first drink it with the slight burn down the back of your throat once it goes down. It's delicious!

They say that apple cider vinegar can kill many types of bacteria, lower blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and may have protective effects against cancer.

This tonic is not cheap at $15 per 8-ounce bottle, but with all these good-for-you certified organic ingredients, it seems like a good investment. Fire Cider, you left me on fire!

Full Disclosure: Although the product was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sesame Kingdom - Mediterranean Spreads

Spreads! So many ways to use spreads and so many spreads out there. But, I don't think I've ever bought a spread made mostly of sesame seeds. Sesame Kingdom is a new company that is providing super delicious, healthy spreads made with sesame seeds as the foundation. None of us are new to tahini--that amazing sesame seed-based spread that we love to eat with our falafel, but have you ever had flavored spreads with sesame seeds? I hadn't, that is, until now.

Sesame Kingdom sent me three of their five flavors to try. Instead of incorporating them into salads or spreading them on pancakes or French toast, which sounded delicious, I wanted to eat them on some crusty French bread to get the full flavor.

The one that is the purest sesame flavor is the Mighty Date. Made with just organic sesame seeds, date syrup, and spices, this one is made with tahini lovers in mind, but is thick so you can use it as a base for sandwiches or as a dip for crunchy veggies. It is very good.

The Carob Chocolate is simply sesame seeds, carob syrup, cocoa, extra virgin olive oil, and spices. This one would be delicious on strawberries, raspberries, or drizzled onto pancakes. It is a nice balance of the carob and cocoa and is not overly sweet, which I appreciate.

But, my favorite is the Beet with Za'atar mostly because it is different and has an unusual, but amazing flavor. Made with sesame seeds, dates, beets, extra virgin olive oil, and spices, this one has so much flavor that putting it on a plain baguette is perfect!

I love that all of their spreads are vegan, gluten-free, and made with mostly organic ingredients. Sesame seeds are a great source of copper and manganese and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, vitamin B1, selenium and dietary fiber. So, if you are seeking a healthy snack or spread, look no further. Sesame Kingdom sells the spreads directly on their website for $12.99 each. I'm hooked!

Full Disclosure: Although these products were provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.