October 22, 2012
Friday was my birthday, and my husband made reservations to have dinner at Sutra, a vegan fine-dining restaurant in Seattle. Sutra operates like a supper club in that there are one or two seatings a night and a fixed menu. The food is wonderful, but when my husband checked the menu, he saw that the entrée had a fennel seed sauce. No one in their right mind would serve me fennel seeds twice (he's already made that mistake once) — and certainly not on my birthday ... in public. When Sutra failed to contact him about possible substitutions, he decided to call and cancel. He asked where I'd like to go instead.
I considered Café Flora, a nice, upscale place with delicious food. But then I remembered that when we were out with friends on Wednesday night, they were raving about the new-to-Seattle Veggie Grill, and I wanted to try it. It may not seem like a birthday-worthy dining spot, but it was exactly what I felt like doing. Sutra will have to wait until they make something that won't make me gag — to put it bluntly. And my favorite time to go to Café Flora is for lunch on a sunny day, so I can sit in the fabulous solarium. That might not happen again until next summer. So Veggie Grill won the toss.
Seattle recently got two Veggie Grill locations, and one is in a shopping center about 10 minutes from our house, and that's where we went. (It's a very popular shopping center so if you go on a weekend, don't expect to find easy parking.) The restaurant is kind of like a fast food place with very minimal decor — for some silly reason, I thought it would look a little better, but no matter, it was clean and pleasant. It was easy to order at the counter, and the staff was extremely polite and friendly. Since it was my birthday, and I wanted to try a few different things, we ordered a starter of Uptown Nachos (Tortilla chips, chili, VG-cheese, corn salsa, avocado, soy cream, jalapeños). Oh yummy. I have no idea what was in the cheese or cream, but most everything else was recognizable, and I just let my food jeebies go and enjoyed it. Too bad I forgot the camera and had to use the phone.
My husband ordered the V-Burger, and I do know what was in that because Veggie Grill publishes the nutritional information of their meat-subs on their Web site. He loved the sandwich and the sides.
I had the (gluten-free) Urban Plate, which I would be happy to have again, and again. The presentation was gorgeous and the food delicious. You're only seeing some of the kale on the plate because the mushroom arrived on top of the tempeh, and I had to move it to take a photo. There was so much kale, and my husband kept saying, "wow, look at all the kale," and "the kale looks so good," so I gave him about a third of the kale. The kale was, in fact, perfect — tender and delicious. The mushroom had a slight smoky taste and the tempeh was the best-tasting I've ever had. Even the texture seemed better than tempeh I cook at home. It was too much food and I couldn't finish it — probably because of the nachos.
As we sat and ate my husband looked at the crowd and asked, "do you think all these people are vegan?" No, I don't. I think Veggie Grill has created a friendly, pleasant, fun, delicious vegan restaurant that has reached across dietary lines.
So I feel a little guilty adding this next part, but as you saw at the beginning of the post, my birthday is in October and I'm a Libra — on the cusp, but still possessing substantial Libra qualities. We Libras can be both artistic, and also obsessively tuned to see both sides of every story. We have a hard time making decisions because of this need to review all sides of an issue. The issue foremost in my mind in relation to Veggie Grill is that of isolated soy protein, which I usually avoid. I do eat soy products like tofu, tempeh, miso, edamame, and tamari, but I usually don't eat isolated soy protein. All of the burgers and chick'n at Veggie Grill contain this product, and it makes me nervous, though of course, I know there are many opinions on the topic. Veggie Grill stands on the side of believing it is health promoting.
In the interest of balance, I'm sharing a video of Dr. John McDougall speaking about the dangers of consuming soy isolates as compared to the dangers of consuming meat and dairy. It's a very interesting video. What do you think?