Category Archives: Eat & Drink Here

A collection of my reviews and photography on restaurants and bars from around the World.

Restaurant Review: Sweet Alchemy [Vermont]

Growing up in Vermont, most places I considered “vegan” were stereotypical hippie joints – local co-ops bathed in patchouli oil, incense, and Birkenstock footprints.  And, while many places in the Green Mountain State still resemble those icons, the vegan scene in Vermont is changing.

On a recent trip home, we pulled our car into a non-descript parking lot in Essex.  The property is shared with a nursery/greenhouse. A small sign over a beautiful deck read “Sweet Alchemy Bakery and Cafe.”

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From the outside on this chilly Winter day, so far the experience was quintessential Vermont – from the rolling frozen hills in the distance, to the barn-esque design of Sweet Alchemy.  Once inside, the warm, sweet smells of a talented baker completed the experience.

Their menu, while expansive, still seemed to lean toward a healthier side of vaganism, far from the deep fryers that dot the Pacific Northwest, dipping fake chicken and oreos into grease.

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The baked goods case had some great looking things, from maple-glazed pumpkin rolls to muffins, and scones.  It was a good sign of a healthy business that many items were sold out by the time we showed up for lunch.

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The hard part was choosing a menu item that would both warm me up, and give me some sustenance.  I had been traveling quite a bit, and frankly, wanted to pig out a little.

I ended up choosing the BFG (BF Goodrich!?) burger, and talked my mom into sharing her “Mac N Trees.”  It was a tough choice, given a menu with entries like “Super tuber tacos,” “Real Deal Enchiladas,” and “Savory herb waffles.”

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The burger was really good, and a solid choice for lunch.  Once it was presented, I realized this was certainly one of those healthy vegan places.  Not that it was a bad thing –  at all.  But it did make me realize that the super fatty places I have come to expect have changed veganism away from its earlier healthy days.  So, it must be true that as veganism expands across the mainstream, it somehow also becomes generally unhealthier.

The burger was full of housemade goodness, serving it on toasted bread slices was a little odd (pretzel bun, anyone?) and contributed to a little dryness.  The thick-cut fresh tomatoes helped out a lot in this area.

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My mom (a local Vermonter) has been going to Sweet Alchemy for quite a while.  One trip in particular, she sent me this synopsis:

“My friends had the Creamed Butternut Soup. They said it was delicious!! Chet said it was the best soup he’s ever had! They are not vegan but are willing to venture out and tempt their palate. I had a delicious Banana Walnut Muffin with an Iced Americano. Everything is vegan. Amazing flavors!!!”

Back to this trip, I plunged my fork into a bowl of hearty Mac and Trees…and it was amazing!  The crumbled nuts sprinkled on top balanced it so well.  The healthy yet hearty “cheese” was phenomenal, and of course the broccoli (trees) rounded it all out.

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The facility was super nice, with a huge outdoor seating area, that huge deck, and big, bright windows surrounded by old books.  There was a nice coffee bar off to the side.  I could envision myself watching a Vermont blizzard blow, reading a book and enjoying some of that coffee.

I will be going back to Sweet Alchemy every time I go back home.  You should check it out too!

Sweet Alchemy is located at Lang Farm on Rt.15 in Essex, VT.

Restaurant Review: Hip City Veg [Philadelphia]

Spending a week in Philly has been an awesome chance to get out and check the vegan scene.  So far it has been an awesome experience.

Shortly after landing at PHL, I hit the road and had dinner at Hip City Veg on South 40th.

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The spot was super nice, and had seats in the huge front window for epic people watching.  I arrived later in the day, even after dinner, so the place was pretty empty.

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The next challenge was to choose something from the menu.  It isn’t a super expansive menu, but there was a decent variety of things.  After hearing rave reviews of the Disco Chickin Sandwich, I ordered one up.  I added a side of sweet potato fries, and the mysterious black bean dip.

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Restaurant Review – Subia’s [Jersey City]

On a recent trip to New Jersey, I had already assumed the vegan scene was gonna be rough.  As I plied the townhome lined streets of Jersey City, visions of pasta and “steamed veggies” began to swirl in my head. Then, something caught my eye. The word “vegan” painted on the side of a red brick building.

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The building was unassuming, and like many homegrown vegan places, relied on chalkboards and an array of health foods to greet customers.  This was vintage veganism and it was grand.

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Restaurant Review: Rudy’s Gourmet Pizza [Portland]

Vegan pizza is easy to find.

But good vegan pizza is very hard to find.

There are some places in Portland that try hard and have good options.  But when we recently stopped into Rudy’s Gourmet Pizza in SE Portland we were blown away.

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The place is a really rad sports bar with plenty of street parking.  The space was clean and well laid out.  There were tons of big screens for watching sports games and other events.

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Restaurant Review: Blackwater Bar [Portland]

Today we ventured down Broadway in Portland, looking for a spot for some lunch goodness.  The only problem?  I wanted something new.  I remembered hearing about Blackwater Bar in Portland, an all-vegan bar.

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Blackwater is a punk-rock themed bar, that teeters on the edge of dive status for me.  Once you walk in, the space is on the dark side (not sure if deliberate for the punk theme) and has a good mix of booths and chairs with tables.  The place is pretty good size, with a full sized stage for live music shows, a bar in the back, a couple of pinball machines, and ample seating.

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Restaurant Review: Fatsquatch [Portland]

It’s always exciting when you hear about a new vegan place in Portland.  Especially with what seems like so many deciding to close their doors.

So yesterday, on a whim I ended up pointing the truck toward SE Belmont, and dropping in on Fatsquatch PDX.

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The cart is nestled in a small pod on Belmont (Belmont Street Eats), and if you didn’t know it was there, you could possibly walk right past it.  But once in the narrow little alleyway it opens up, with Fatsquatch lurking in the back like its namesake.  Don’t expect covered eating at this pod, however. I had to eat in the truck.

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RESTAURANT REVIEW: 49TH STATE BREWING [ANCHORAGE]

Traveling to Alaska as a vegan can be pretty daunting.  There is hope though, in the sparsely populated vegan options on menus at places like Bear’s Tooth, Middleway Cafe and others.  But you can also get sick of them pretty quickly.

So I decided to join some friends recently on a downtown crawl.

We started the night at 49th State Brewing Company.

The brewery is located in the old Snow Goose space, and they have done an amazing job with the design.  I would have taken more photos, but it was Iditarod weekend and the place was absolutely PACKED.  To the gills.  So apologies for that (you can find some photos on their website).

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Restaurant Review: No Bones Beach Club PDX

Trigger warning:  This post contains more superlatives than a Donald Trump speech. 

It is often said in religious circles that “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”  The vegan scene has had a few doors closing as of late, with Portland staples like Portobello shutting their doors.   But, the vegan heavens soon burst open a giant window upon us all. And it is tremendous.

Bigly tremendous.

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Restaurant Review: FoMu Ice Cream [Boston]

When you think of a cold, New England city like Boston, the image of ice cream probably isn’t the first thing in your mind.  When you realize it is a 100% vegan ice cream shop, it seems even further from reality.  But I am not complaining!  FoMu ice cream is an amazing little shop with multiple locations around Boston.

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FoMu is located in the little vegan paradise of Allston, right at the craziness that is Union Square. Many vegan establishments have come and gone here, so I am happy to see FoMu sticking around for a while.

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Restaurant Review: Southern Fried Vegan [Portland]

Well, today it happened.  I finally made the trek to Southern Fried Vegan (SFV) in Portland.  I saw the posts of bountiful buffets, and instagrams of beautiful sammiches.  And today I finally went.

And today I was really bummed.

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