Tag Archives: restaurant

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: 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: 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: Lovin’ Spoonfuls [Tucson]

On a recent trip to Arizona, I checked out the Happy Cow app to help me find some local vegan restaurants and was stoked to see a place called Lovin’ Spoonfuls.  After reading a few reviews I decided to head over and check it out.

The location is simple, but nice, nestled into a strip mall off Campbell Avenue.  Parking was simple, and I found a spot right in front.  They have a nice covered outdoor seating area and on this cool evening, I decided to eat out front.

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Once inside, there is a really nice seating area with a dessert case, small retail section, and some information on animal rights and activism.

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Restaurant Review: VeganBurg [San Francisco]

When I used to travel to Singapore, I always made sure to stop at VeganBurg – a country-wide vegan burger joint that prided itself on healthy vegan options.

So when I heard their first (and only) US location was in the heart of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, I knew I needed to go.

While the menu options seemed  little lighter than I remember, the space itself was really nice, clean, and bright.  I ordered the “Cracked Mayo” burger with seaweed fries (not as hippy as they sound, I promise), and Kristin ordered the Smoked Franks with a side of fries. Landen went with the standard – Chicken Tenders.

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Restaurant Review: Next Level Burger [Bend]

UPDATED 9/14/15!  We returned to NLB for an amazing breakfast!  See the new content below!

When it comes to vegan fast food, us vegans miss out on three key elements of the fast food culture:

1. We don’t camp out weeks in advance of an opening.  And, while I would never be one of the schmucks in a $20 Coleman tent sleeping on a sidewalk outside some vegan Chick-Fil-A, the concept of it is appealing.  I mean, how committed do you need to be to artery-clogging, fat soaked food to actually sleep outside for a week?  That is true, foodie commitment.

Camping in the winter for a week. For fried chicken.

2.  We can’t just have a greasy, bad-for-you burger experience.  Most vegan burgers I have seen are typically some malted oregano-kale infused, carrot fiber burger, promising all kinds of health claims. Sometimes, I just want to eat something bad for me too.

3. We don’t have a vegan fast food mecca that beckons us to make multi-mile journeys off major interstates.   We need a vegan In-and-Out kinda place.

So when I heard there was a new vegan burger joint in Bend, I had a chance to do a little of all three.

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Restaurant Review: Gracias Madre [San Francisco]

Vegan mexican food is really nothing special.  I can get an amazing burrito with beans, rice, lettuce and tomatoes (provided the beans are lard free and the rice has no chicken stock).

This guy was all business.

But a fully authentic Mexican vegan experience?  Now that is something awesome.

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Restaurant Review: Pingala [Burlington]

I have been complaining about Burlington’s vegan scene for a while now, with only a few places (like Stone Soup) offering anything substantial.

So when I heard about Pingala in the Chace Mills at Winooski, I was really excited to check them out.

Their location is pretty awesome, right on the banks of the Winooski River at the falls.  While the idea of a nice outdoor spot sounded nice, the mercury was hovering around 15 degrees.  So we elected to sit inside.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Pingala [Burlington]