October 22, 2012

Veggie Grill


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?

26 comments:

  1. Happy Fennel-Free Birthday Wishes!
    xo
    kittee

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I firmly believe no one should have to eat fennel on their birthday, unless of course, it's baked or roasted.

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  2. Happy Birthday Andrea! The Urban Plate sounds really good. I love it when they heap on the kale.
    It is very cool that Veggie Grill provides nutritional info online; I always kinda want to ask about that.
    The mcdougall clip was enlightening, though. I typically try to avoid ISP but sometimes I just let it slide. It's really scary to see how much it can affect you and how easy it is to just eat 40 g.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks! There was a LOT of kale — enough to share even though I am normally very reluctant to part with any of my kale.

      It's hard to be the nutrition police 24/7, so occasionally things I don't want to eat get eaten (like carrageenan, for example). You do the best you can but sometimes you eat whatever, and enjoy it!

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  3. As soon as I saw that top picture I thought - wherever that is, I need to go there! That's good birthday food!

    On the soy isolates issue, I'm skeptical that any one food stuff can do you harm, even deep fried whatevers, soy isolates or what have you, unless you eat massive quantities of it on a very regular basis. A little here and there is unlikely to have massively troubling effects.

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    1. I agree with you that moderation is important; the key is how people define moderation. For some it's "no more than once a day" and for others "no more than once a week," or "once a month, etc." Some "bad" ingredients are so pervasive they appear in many products that might be consumed over the course of a day. I try to eat real food most of the time and stay away from manufactured foods, but like you said, "a little here or there" probably won't hurt.

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  4. Hey, Happy Birthday Andrea!!! Glad it was fennel-free for you!

    The food looks yummy. I've been eyeing their menu and thinking of heading over there this week maybe.

    I'm with you on the soy protein isolate...I try to avoid it. The video was great! I'm struggling with my husband, who likes to eat the Yves brand bacon on the weekends. I keep telling him how bad it is...once in a while, it's probably not going to make or break him...but not every weekend! This past weekend, I made him some baked tofu to eat instead, and he went for it, so hopefully I can keep that trend going.

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    1. Thanks!

      I'll be interested to hear what you think. It's possible to get both real food and fake food at Veggie Grill — something for everyone. (Maybe not everyone. :D) Have you ever made tempeh bacon? Liquid smoke can be very useful in creating an authentic taste.

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  5. Happy Birthday Andrea! Mine was on 19th too:) My husband took the day off and had planned the lunches and dinners to either of sage/cafe flora/sutra. :) we lunched at Sage and ate so much chocolate in the evening that dinner was a light indian daal and sabji at home.
    i have been to the south lake union veggie grill a few weeks back and did not like the food much. i need to give them a second chance. the kale was good, the chipotle sauce with the fries was good and thats about it. everything else was too bland. the tempeh tasted like uncooked tempeh. it could have been an off day or someone did not like my face:)
    i am with you on the soy protein isolate. its almost like jumping from one unhealthy wagon to another.

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    1. Thanks and happy birthday to you, too! I just commented on your blog before reading this and didn't realize your birthday was the same day as mine. It looks like we picked some of the same places to celebrate, too.

      I really loved the tempeh but it's possible you're used to more spices than I am. I kind of like plainer food, though the tempeh didn't taste bland or uncooked to me.

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  6. Happy Birthday Richa and Andrea. I know I've wished you both HB elsewhere, but I wanted to make sure I didn't look insensitive here ;) Okay I've eaten at Veggie Gril about 5 times in LA ,and have always had a great meal. I think the soy isolate is in tofurky links and I eat them. Is that possible. I have to watch the video.

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    1. Thanks, GiGi. :)
      With ISP, all things are possible. You should watch the video. Is McDougall the guy whose diet you follow?

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    2. I am happy I am short.

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    3. HAHA! How short? I'm probably shorter. Does this mean we can eat more ISP than other, tall people?

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    4. Hee-hee, yes! Finally, something good about being a shorty! I'm a shorty, as you know, but you're are one of the few people I've met who is shorter than me (grown-ups, that is). Well done! Long live us short folks!

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  7. Happy Birthday, Andrea! I think the Veggie Grill looks like a fabulous place to celebrate--I have always wanted to go to one!! I hope you had a great birthday :-)

    Courtney

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    1. Thanks! With the way Veggie Grill is expanding, you get your wish sooner than you think!

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  8. Word on the street says you, and Rose are shorter.
    I was 5'3 and a half at one time.

    No I follow Engine 2.

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    1. And how long ago was that? My aunt was 5'3" too, but then I discovered she always wore spike heels and was, in truth, much shorter than she appeared.

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  9. I haven't been buying ISP for our house for quite awhile now. Occasionally I am sure we consume it at restaurants, during our rare trips. It makes me nervous, too. I have tried to gently tell my husband I've cut it out, but he gets a little frustrated with me when I continue to cut more things out of my diet (no matter that I'm doing it for good reason). And he does love eating a lot of those things, like the soy bacon.

    My son still talks about that whole coconut mango cake we picked up from Cafe Flora when we were in town about 5 years ago on his birthday.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It's hard to keep up with it. I didn't even realize it was in Clif bars, for example. And it's often in foods that people love — like burgers and fake bacon. Good luck.

      That must have been some cake! I can only imagine how delicious it was.

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  10. Happy Birthday again! Veggie Grill looks good. I am not a huge fan of all soy but I do have it on occasion when I'm out as a treat in small quantities. Otherwise I find it hard to digest.

    loved reading about your trip too. San Diego is one of the places I hope to travel to at some point, that's great you got to add it to a business trip. and Happy Anniversary!

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    1. Thanks, again! I don't believe anything comes in small quantities at Veggie Grill. :) But you could always take the leftovers home!

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  11. Those nachos look amazing. Food doesn't have to be fancy to attract the masses- just good. And I'm glad they are attracting vegans and non-vegans alike. Nachos for dinner in my house!

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    1. I'm kind of wanting nachos again. Maybe I can make some for dinner — how hard can it be?

      Delete

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