Thursday, January 18, 2018

Me Jana, Arlington, VA #2

I'll be spending more time in Virginia than I'd like to, so look for some reviews of Arlington restaurants coming soon. Before I explore any new restaurants, I wanted to go back to Me Jana, a Lebanese restaurant in the Courthouse area of Arlington that I enjoyed eating at once before.

On this particular visit, I brought some colleagues here for a nice, casual lunch. Their menu now has items clearly marked as "vegan" so I was excited about that! Because when it states it is vegan, then it must be vegan, right? Well, hold on.

We started with an order of hummus and pita. It was very good. And it was clearly marked as vegan.

For my entree, I had the falafel salad. Over shredded greens, there were tomatoes, peppers, and three falafel balls. I loved the salad. I will say that the falafel was a little too deep fried for me, but that's not unusual at a Lebanese restaurant.

The service was slow even though we were some of the only people there for the weekday lunch, but as it seemed like a solid restaurant, I came back again.

This time, I asked if the pita was vegan as we were ordering the "vegan" hummus. The server looked at me confused and said that the pita had milk in it. I then also looked confused as I looked at the menu and remarked that the hummus was listed as vegan. He said that the hummus was vegan, but the pita was not to which I asked if the pita was sold separately. He said it wasn't. Clearly, we didn't understand each other. I told him that you can't mark a dish vegan if the entire dish isn't vegan. What if I opened a restaurant and marked a wrap as gluten free because the wrap was gluten free even though it was filled with seitan (gluten). It was totally unacceptable and he clearly didn't care.

At the same time, while we were ordering, the server remarked that he liked my colleague's sweater and proceeded to touch it. She was offended at that and didn't understand why he had to touch it. The whole interaction was just weird.

Well, we decided to eat our lunch there anyway. I ordered the tabbouleh, which I figured was safe. When I ordered the tabbouleh, the server asked if I wanted to add salmon or chicken. Um, no. Did we not just have a conversation about how I don't eat animals? My colleagues were appalled and I was ready to leave. We reluctantly finished our meal, but then he wouldn't come back to give us our check. After like 20 minutes, we had to flag him down.

Everything about this was wrong. You can't label a meal on a menu as vegan if it isn't. You shouldn't be touching customers. And you should listen to your customers. I do not recommend this restaurant. Do not go here.

Previous Review
July 6, 2017

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

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Herban Fix, Atlanta #2

I was absolutely blown away by Herban Fix last year, so when we booked a trip to Atlanta to visit friends for the New Year's Eve weekend, we made reservations to eat there on New Year's Eve! Surprisingly, I was able to get reservations the night before NYE!

Herban Fix is an upscale vegan restaurant. The outside of the restaurant is elegant with its topiaries and plants. The inside is nice, but always feels a bit stale to me. I think that the high ceilings and seating on a second floor makes the atmosphere a bit ampitheater-like. Although everything inside the restaurant is very nice--from the orange seats to the open kitchen. It really is beautiful.

As there was a prix fixe menu this evening, we were spared having to choose from their amazing extensive vegan menu. We just chose a bottle of tempranillo, then the dishes started appearing.

First up, was a sampler plate that had three different items on it. The vegetable spring roll was very fried, but quite good. The sushi roll with brown rice was also quite good. But, the crispy eggplant with mashed pumpkin was by far my favorite. The sauce was sweet yet savory.

Next up, was a vegetable dumpling stew complete with some type of fake meat. It was spicy hot and delicious!

Our favorite course by far was the entree. Oh my goodness. Pan seared spicy lemongrass tofu was topped with a pan seared soy fish in curry broth. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a big fan of fake fish, but the tofu was superb and the fish was flaky and crisp while the sauce complemented it all. It was perfect.

Lastly, they served a vegan flan with mixed berries and ice cream. The green tea ice cream was good, but neither of us liked the flan. So, we ordered chocolate ganache cake instead and it was to die for.

The prix fixe was $45 per person and in the end we spent nearly $180 with wine, but it was so worth it. This is the best meal I've had in a while and the best service I've had in a while too. Herban Fix--I'm so impressed with you. Please open one of these in DC. We would love you here.

Previous Review
July 13, 2017

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, January 11, 2018

Vegan Meals on United Airlines

It's the beginning of 2018, which makes me reflect on 2017 and all the adventures I've taken. There have been a lot! From BASE jumping off cliffs in Moab, Utah to wingsuit BASE in Italy and Switzerland, and back to subterminal BASE off low cliffs in Zakynthos, Greece, I've traveled the world and back. And it's been mostly on United Airlines.

I am pleased to report that United Airlines is very vegan friendly. I've had some pretty good meals this year on United. When choosing meals on United, the code you want to see is VGML -- that will get you a vegan meal in any class cabin you take. Here are some of the highlights of my vegan meals over the past few months.

On my trip to Greece, I had roasted veggies with rice and steamed carrots and broccoli, which was great. There was a tomato and cucumber salad that is so much better than the iceberg lettuce that I've received so many other times. And fresh fruit with pineapple and oranges, etc.

On my trip home from Greece, I had an Indian dinner with spiced cauliflower, chickpeas, and white rice, a roll with vegan Smart Balance margarine, salad with lemon, and Lucy's chocolate chip cookies. It was pretty tasty!

From Amsterdam to home, there was a sandwich with grilled zucchini that was given as an in-between meal that was also pretty good.

For my meal on the Amsterdam flight, I had a delicious Indian meal with creamy black lentils, rice, and spinach, and black-eyed peas. There was a salad with herb vinaigrette, and German bread with margarine. It was one of the best meals I had this year on an airline.

United--you've done a good job with your airline meals. I look forward to flying the friendly skies with you all this year, VGML-style.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

DC Harvest, DC

I'm back! After a bit of a hiatus BASE jumping all around the world, I'm back for a few weeks. It is bitter cold here with highs in the single digits and it feels like a great time to get caught up on restaurant reviews! I'll start with DC Harvest.

DC Harvest opened in 2014 in the H Street corridor. One of the owners, Jared Ringel, reached out to me to ask if I would review the restaurant. I'm not often asked to review a restaurant by the owner, so why not?!

So, on a Monday night a few months ago, I met a friend for dinner at DC Harvest. An unassuming, old, white and green row house sits on H Street. The sign outside the restaurant doesn't really match the decor inside the restaurant. In fact, although it matches the restaurant name, it looks a bit cheesy and not like it feels on the inside--this is where I think there is a bit of a disconnect because when you walk in, although it is a small place, you realize this could be a really nice place. With its nice bar with white granite top to its quaint dining room, this place has some definite promise.

I immediately found Mr. Ringel behind the bar and he showed us to our table. It's a small restaurant--smaller than I had expected with less than 10 tables. The lighting is dark, the walls are white, and the bar area is quite large. On this particular night, all of the tables were full at one point--not bad for a Monday night.

Mr. Ringel stopped by to explain the menu and pointed out which items were either vegan by design or could be made vegan. I started with the Friendly Fire drink made with cilantro-infused blanco Mezcal, tangerine juice, lime juice, gomme syrup, cilantro, and grilled jalapenos. Yum!

A bowl of pickled vegetables were dropped off, which consisted of a few carrots, a few celery sticks, a pickle, and a lone green bean. It looked a little sad and empty.

We started with an order of the Fried Green Tomatoes made with pea shoots, charred eggplant puree, and lemon vinaigrette. We thought they were nicely breaded and enjoyed the puree--nice pairing.

Next, we shared the Sauteed Summer Greens made with walnuts, currants, and spring onions. It was fantastic.

For my second drink, I tried the War of the Roses made with four roses yellow label bourbon, gomme syrup, peychaud aperitivo, rhubarb, and dry vermouth. Very nice.

Lastly, for my entree, I had a housemade fresh pasta made with okra, tomatoes, and walnuts. The pasta was so fresh and the veggies amazing. I loved it!

Unfortunately, none of the desserts were vegan. Other vegan items on that seasonal menu included tomato and watermelon salad, summer greens, and smoked broccoli. As the menu is seasonal and I'm a bit late in posting this, it has already changed, but the waitstaff is happy to tell you what can be made vegan outside of what is already labeled as vegan on the menu. They are currently open for brunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as well as dinner every night of the week.

Overall, I'm excited that a small restaurant like this has so many vegan offerings and I love that the menu is seasonal as you can try something new every season! The food was good, the drinks were fantastic, and prices on the high side. I'd recommend this as a great option for those looking for a fun brunch, a dinner for a special occasion, or as a higher priced regular weekly meal. Bon appetit!

DC Harvest
517 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 629-3296

DC Harvest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Full Disclosure: Although the meal was provided to me at no cost to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup

This soup is pretty amazing. With just some cashew cream, mushrooms, onions, thyme, and a few other ingredients, you can whip up a sensational Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup and I'll tell you how. I found this recipe in the cookbook called Homestyle Vegan by Amber St. Peter.  The only flaw in this recipe was too much salt, which I corrected below. This would be a fantastic soup to serve friends and family--loaded with umami and love.

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup
Serves 6 to 8

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb assorted mushrooms (any kind)
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 Tbsp plus 1/8 tsp salt, divided (original recipe called for 1 Tbsp, but that is way too much)
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
In a medium-size bowl, soak the cashews in the warm water. Set them aside to soften.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic, onion, and mushrooms until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Pour in the sherry and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sherry liquid reduces by about half. Pour in the vegetable broth, fresh thyme, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, and pepper and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

While the soup simmers, make the cashew cream by blending the soaked cashews, the water they're soaking in, and the remaining 1/8 tsp salt to create a thick cream. Pour into the simmering soup, and remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion or high-speed blender, carefully blend the soup in batches or all at once. Garnish with fresh thyme. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated and reheat as needed for up to 1 week.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bekiri's Family Fast Food, Zakynthos, Greece

Oh this beautiful island! We wanted to get away from the restaurant we ate at every day and somehow ended up at Bekiri's Family Fast Food. Not a fast food joint at all, but an indication that they can prepare your food quickly. However, we soon found out that was not the case.

We only had a group of six or so and were in a hurry so none of us ordered alcoholic beverages. By the time they finally took our order, we still had like an hour left before we needed to be back to the hotel. Forty minutes later--still no food.

Finally, when they delivered the food, it was meh. I ordered the simple Spaghetti Vegetarian, which was like an entire box of pasta mixed with tomatoes and mushrooms. It really wasn't that exciting.

Given the slow service and mediocre food, I wouldn't recommend this place.

Bekiri's Family Fast Food
Alykanas 290 90
Zakynthos, Greece
+30 698 626 1124

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Corned Bean Hash

I found a recipe for Corned Bean Hash, a play on Corned Beef Hash, listed in the breakfast section of Homestyle Vegan by Amber St. Peter, and I thought it would make a great dinner.  After mixing simple ingredients together like red potatoes, kidney beans, tahini, and onion, I had a great tasting dish. The fantastic flavor could be attributed to the mix of tahini and cayenne pepper. It is a very filling and satisfying dish. Feel free to double the recipe if you want more.

There was something missing from this recipe--what to do with the beans. So, I'll just write it the way I made it.

Corned Bean Hash
Serves 4

  • 1 cup cooked kidney beans
  • 1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely diced white onion
  • 1 cup chopped red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (I added 1/4 tsp)
  • Chives, chopped, for garnish
In a small bowl, mash about three-fourths of the kidney beans with a fork and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onions for 3 to 5 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Toss in the potatoes, beans, tahini, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and cayenne, stirring to combine.

Cover and continue to cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. If things start getting stuck to the pan before the potatoes are ready, you can add 1 Tbsp of water as needed to loosen things up.  Once the mixture is becoming browned and crispy, remove from the heat. Garnish with fresh chives and serve!

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