Non-veg Restaurant

Munch!

It’s that time again! The Vegan Month of Food.

I don’t have a theme this year; I’m just trying to use Vegan MoFo to get my vegan blog mojo back. I’ll start of with a restaurant review.

Woodstock’s classic sushi/miniature golf combination ended this summer. Golden Rolls is moving to the former location of the world’s second worst restaurant, Vaughan’s Broasted Chicken. Major renovations had to be done, including removing some hideous wood siding to reveal a brick exterior! No wonder Vaughan’s closed; it had bad taste all around. There aren’t many restaurants that serve chips and guacamole along side AAC rolls and tofu steak, so I hope Golden Rolls opens soon.

A new restaurant opened up next to mini golf, Munch. We ordered take out from there. It’s still overwhelming to take two babies to a restaurant, but H said it looked baby-friendly. H called in an order; he checked the ingredients of a couple menu options that sounded vegan. However, I forgot to ask if they put butter on their hummus sandwich (?!?). Rookie mistake. Fortunately, I had some ciabatta buns in the freezer, so I transferred the “generous” schmear of hummus (the chef & I have different definitions of generous), lettuce, tomato & avocado to the ciabatta bun.

20140903-111237.jpg

I also got the hot ma-me salad, which was supposed to be served with edamame. The kitchen was out of edamame, so they subbed kalamata olives. I love kalamata olives, but they didn’t go well with spicy Thai peanut vinaigrette. The dressing was delicious with the other salad veggies and it would have been great to have the protein from edamame. H said the chef was very apologetic.

20140903-111205.jpg

Munch has potential; we’ll definitely go back again and hopefully they’ll have edamame.

We ate dinner at the kitchen counter while the twins played; our new normal “restaurant” experience.

20140903-111307.jpg

Green Bay

This past weekend I went to Green Bay to celebrate a birthday and cheer some friends on at the Green Bay marathon and half-marathon. I came prepared with a bag full of snacks to make sure I didn’t starve in an city known for cheese and football.

The expo was at Lambeau Field, so we stopped at Curly’s Pub for lunch. This is literally inside cheesehead stadium, and yet its veggie burger is vegan and the classic burger doesn’t even come with cheese. All but one burger can be subbed for the vegetarian burger. There is also a vegetarian wrap; the grilled veggies are cooked in oil not butter and it can be served without cheese or mayo.

20130520-082523.jpg 20130520-082545.jpg

The waitress even knew the word “vegan”!

20130520-082551.jpg

Lambeau Field

We walked around the expo and got to see some of the stadium. We also came back for dinner, which was a very sad pasta dinner. Thankfully, I was not running the next day. It was included for runners, but I had to pay $17 for some mass produced penne pasta and marinara.

20130520-082903.jpg 20130520-082909.jpg 20130520-082635.jpg 20130520-082916.jpg

20130520-082927.jpg\

20130520-082935.jpg

The race. It was a tad bit warm for even spectating, so terrible marathon conditions. Not as bad as the 2007 or 2010 Chicago marathons, but 70 and sunny is too hot for 26.2 miles. Still, I was jealous of everyone out there running. I watched them take off and then saw them at mile 4, mile 11, and a half mile before the finish line.

20130520-083353.jpg 20130520-083530.jpg 20130520-083540.jpg 20130520-084222.jpg 20130520-084227.jpg 20130520-084233.jpg

For lunch we went to Glass Nickel Pizza Co., which someone on Yelp had said served vegan pizzas. They are in the process of changing menus, so while the waitress initially said there was a special menu, she came back to say there was no menu, but I could order the vegan delight. The vegan delight is a crust of your choice with barbeque sauce, red onions, broccoli, and pineapples. I’m not a huge fan of pineapples, but it was still pretty good.

20130520-084447.jpg 20130520-084454.jpg

For Nancy’s birthday, I made a campfire cake – a four layer chocolate cake with chocolate malt and toasted marshmallow frosting. I topped it with more toasted marshmallows.

20130520-084527.jpg 20130520-084539.jpg 20130520-084548.jpg

DC Wrap Up

My trip to DC included many delicious meals: Cafe Asia for veggie sushi combo, Rasika for delicious, upscale Indian food, Busboys & Poets for brunch, Sticky Rice for creative vegan sushi rolls, Farmers, Fishers & Bakers for meatloaf & mashed potatoes, quick meals at Teaism and Sticky Fingers, and hot pot at Mala Tang.

Despite not eating fish, sushi is one of my favorite meals. In McHenry County though, sushi consists of avocado rolls, cucumber rolls, and asparagus rolls, or you can get an AAC, which is an avocado, asparagus and cucumber roll. (In all fairness, there is one restaurant with egg-free tempura rolls). Sticky Rice takes vegan sushi to a whole new level.

We started out with a bucket of tater tots. Yes, the entire bucket is full of tater tots. A dipping sauce with Vegenaise was also included. It’s the first time I’ve eaten tater tots with chopsticks.

20130425-102621.jpg 20130425-102636.jpg

I ordered the Santa Fe (Tempura fried sweet potato with agave, jalapeno and sesame seeds) and the Hot Hippy (Spicy marinated tofu with scallions, peanuts, cucumbers and carrots). Both were good, but I really enjoyed the sweet potato and jalapeno combo.

20130425-102702.jpg 20130425-102730.jpg 20130425-102800.jpg

For desert, I had some mango sorbet. It was good, but hard to eat with the spoon.

20130425-102821.jpg 20130425-102932.jpg

Busboys & Poets
One of my favorite spots in DC to hang out was the U Street Busboys & Poets. They have expanded and for Sunday brunch we checked out the Shirlington location. There was a decent wait. We killed the time at the bar with some fresh-squeezed orange juice.

There are many vegan options on the menu. I settled on the vegan egg wrap (tortilla wrapped tofu scramble with mixed veggies, vegan bacon and vegan cheese; served with home fries) and a Blueberry Rooibos.

20130425-103056.jpg 20130425-103141.jpg 20130425-103205.jpg

Le Pain Quotidien

H had a conference on Monday and Tuesday, so I was on my own. On Monday I headed down to Alexandria for lunch and shopping. Le Pain Quotidien is a chain restaurant with a large number of vegan dishes, which it clearly marks on its menu. I ordered the Sweet Pea Hummus Tartine (an open-faced sandwich with sweet pea hummus, organic carrots, spring peas, radish and smoked tea vinaigrette) and a cup of tea. I sat at the large communal table.

20130425-103341.jpg 20130425-103402.jpg 20130425-103436.jpg 20130425-103844.jpg

From the bakery, I ordered an apple cannelé. I’ve never had a cannelé before, so I can’t say whether this was a good one or not. It was rather dense and not very sweet. I could only eat half, but I took the other half for a morning snack on Tuesday.

20130425-103910.jpg

After lunch, I walked down to the art galleries and water.

20130426-125254.jpg 20130426-125307.jpg

On my walk back to the metro I stopped at a toy store to buy a gift for my friend’s baby and a second-hand store where I bought a flowy floral Tracy Reese shirt and a Valentino jersey skirt.

20130426-125405.jpg

Archives and Teaism

On Tuesday, I planned on going to Teaism and the National Gallery of Art. But once I got to the Penn Quarter Teaism I decided to go to the National Archives. I’ve been to the art gallery more times than I can count, but I had never been to the Archives. At Teaism I had the Irish oatmeal without milk and a berry tisane.

20130426-125751.jpg 20130426-125816.jpg

Archives was a fun museum. Although, the room with the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights is so disorganized.It’s a good think we made a copy, because the documents are very faded.

20130426-125843.jpg 20130426-125857.jpg

Sticky Fingers & Columbia Heights
After the Archives, I headed up to my old neighborhood for lunch at Sticky Fingers. I had the tempeh Reuben and a vanilla cupcake.

20130426-130334.jpg 20130426-130353.jpg 20130426-130407.jpg

Mala Tang
Last, but not least, we stopped at Mala Tang for hot pot on our way to the airport. I liked Mala Tang, because they do individual pots, so I can order my own special vegetarian broth. I got the spicy broth with the American vegetable combination (potatoes, broccoli and mushrooms) and dried bean curd. We also ordered some vegetable baozi, which I thought wasn’t very flavorful on its own, but much better with a spicy dipping sauce.

20130426-131427.jpg 20130426-131439.jpg 20130426-131457.jpg

Montarra

Montarra is a fancy restaurant in Algonquin, which likens itself to a downtown Chicago restaurant (minus the drive). I was skeptical. We’ve been to some other “nice” restaurants in the ‘burbs and they are a joke. There is nothing vegan on the menu, but if it’s really a “downtown Chicago restaurant,” the chef can come up with something creative, right?

When our server came to take our order, I informed him that I was vegan. I didn’t even get to finish my sentence (“is there something that the chef can put together?”) before the server responded with “you want the vegan plate?” As if that was something on the menu. Yes, that is exactly what I wanted. I patiently waited, hoping for more than a plate of soggy vegetables with some minute rice.

Instead of the typical grilled vegetable plate, this was put before me:

20130217-110448.jpg

Tempura asparagus with corn, arugula, and a tomato sauce. The waiter confirmed with the chef that the tempura did not contain eggs and I dove right in. It was delicious. I have no problem with Montarra calling itself a downtown Chicago restaurant. We will definitely visit again.

20130217-110453.jpg 20130217-110459.jpg 20130217-110505.jpg

The ambiance and service are nice. There was a gorgeous chandelier hanging above our heads. The cocktail list looked good, but I was driving, so I didn’t try anything.

The Lucky Monk

You’d think with the word “monk” in the name it would have more cruelty-free options. But no, this monk didn’t take an oath of kindness. The Lucky Monk is just your typical omnivore pub.

My dinner: Vegetable Tacos sans cheese with added avocado. No rice. Side of veggies.

20130323-204428.jpg

The Mexican rice contains chicken broth, but they are willing to cook the vegetables in olive oil rather than butter. The refried black beans are vegan, as are the tacos if you order without cheese.

20130323-204710.jpg 20130323-204722.jpg

Both buns they serve contain milk ingredients. Obviously the brioche buns aren’t vegan, but unfortunately the sesame buns aren’t either. I really wanted “the Saint” (a portabella mushroom sandwich with hummus, lettuce and tomato) and fries, but my only entree option was the tacos. H got a sandwich with fries, and the fries weren’t very good, so I was a little happier with my choice. I’m not a huge fan of chipotle sauce; it’s too sweet. Otherwise, my meal was fine.

We also order the hummus appetizer, but H was so hungry he ate it before I could take a photo. The hummus was good; better than the tacos.  This was a little out of the way for us, so I doubt we will ever go back. Our server was nice and answered all my dairy questions, so I will give them that, but I am not eating those tacos again.  If you do go, make a reservation (they are on Open Table). We went super early to make a movie and even with our 5:15 reservation we had to wait.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant

To celebrate Groundhog’s Day, the most romantic day of the year, H and I went to Cooper’s Hawk in South Barrington. This place is always packed and we had to be back home fairly early, so we got there before 5:00 and still had to wait almost an hour. During our wait, we did a wine tasting at one of the bars.

20130203-101634.jpg 20130203-101647.jpg

I contacted Cooper’s Hawk to find out what vegan options they have and I received a great response.

Good Morning Kristen,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Vegan options on our menu. In speaking with our Executive Chef, he makes the following suggestions. Please be mindful that these are options from our regular menu and will require that you request modifications as described.

  • Plain Ol’House Salad:

o Modification: Order without croutons as they have butter

o Request House or Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • Baby Greens Salad:

o Modification: Order without cheese

o Request House or Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • Napa Chopped Salad:

o Modification: Order without cheese or chicken

o Request House or Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • Mediterranean Chopped Salad:

o Modification: Order without cheese

o Request House or Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • Portabella Sandwhich:

o Modification: Order without mayo.

  • Black Bean Burger:

o Modification: Order without mayo.

  • Asian Slaw:

o Modification: Order without wontons as they are fried and may be exposed to other non-vegan foods [Ed. Note: !!! I  am shocked that they thought of this]

I was a little surprised about the veggie burger, so I confirmed with the waitress that the burger did not include eggs. I saw another sandwich that had avocado, so I swapped out the mayo for avocados.

20130203-101658.jpg 20130203-101713.jpg

Both the burger and the Asian slaw were good. I don’t know about wait-for-an-hour good, but not a bad restaurant to go if you are with a group of omnis. There’s a decent selection of  items and they are very friendly about special requests.

E is for Estate Ultra Bar

On Saturday night, H and I went to Estate Ultra Bar for a pre-marathon dinner. It’s a trendy place with an impressive drink menu and an amazing view of the city. It gets an A for effort on catering to vegans, too. When I emailed about vegan options, I received a quick response with the “secret” vegan menu. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t that great. The hummus and olives were fine, but it’s pretty hard to mess those  up. H’s fries were good, but mine were overcooked. The veggie burger had potential, but it was on the dry side. I spread some of the hummus on the burger and that made it much better. We’ll probably go back again, just not before 10:00 p.m. and only for drinks.

20121006-211531.jpg 20121006-210016.jpg 20121006-210022.jpg

Birthday Week

Last Monday was my birthday and the start of a week long celebration. On Labor Day, we bought a Prius and the only option we picked was heated seats. They gave us a car but we needed to bring it back in for the installation of heated seats. Schaumburg has more to offer than Woodstock, so we took the car in Monday night and went out for some delicious Indian food. I made a reservation at India House, although it wasn’t needed on a Monday night.

To drink I had a peach martini, which was good, very sweet.

20120918-092109.jpg

We started with a couple samosas. They brought out some bread, which has butter on it but they swapped it out for some butter-free bread upon request.

20120918-092115.jpg

I ordered Chana masala, one of my favorite dishes, and aloo gobi. Both were good. I asked the server which vegetarian dishes didn’t have butter or cheese and he named quite a few.

20120918-092120.jpg 20120918-092125.jpg

Whole Foods sells slices of cake from Chicago Diner’s vegan bakery, so after dinner we went over there and picked up two slices of cake -peanut butter chocolate and cookie dough. They were both good, but the peanut butter was my favorite. The frosting was more like a mousse- light and creamy.

20120918-092234.jpg 20120918-092239.jpg

On Tuesday we picked up the car and went to Bombay Chopsticks. On Wednesday, at H’s request, we went to an Italian restaurant in Crystal Lake, da Baffone Cucina Italiana. On Thursday, we went out with our neighbors to Mixteca for a joint birthday celebration (her birthday was the 15th). Way too much eating out! On Friday, we went into the city and had dinner at Gilt Bar and saw a show at Second City.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu at the Aqua Tower.

20120923-221230.jpg

On Saturday, after a huge lunch at Native Foods, we went to a cooking class at Karyn’s. With the exception of the cider, I was not blown away by the menu, but I got a lot of good tips. I would definitely take another class here. The menu included barley and mushroom soup, lentil casserole, stuffed portabellas, baked apples and cranberry cider.

20120923-190350.jpg 20120923-190355.jpg

For dinner, we went to Acadia in the South Loop. I called ahead to see if they could accommodate a vegan and they said that would be no problem. They made a note on the reservation and I didn’t have to say anything when we arrived. There are two vegetarian dishes on the menu (a starter and a main course). Unfortunately, the soup has cream in it, but the entree could be made vegan. Instead of the soup, they put together this salad garnished with a small forest.

20120923-190431.jpg

The bread course is a buttermilk biscuit, but they gave me some potato chips instead.

20120923-190437.jpg

The entree was a mix of roasted vegetables, raw vegetables, and two oat cakes (I think?). There was also something called vegetable dirt that was kind of like the Oreo crumb topping on a Yocrunch, except not sweet. Anyway, this is how a restaurant should handle a vegan – don’t put some vegetables on a plate and call it a day. Put together something creative and flavorful. Well done, Acadia.

20120923-190443.jpg

So then there was dessert. They offered to put together a fruit plate, but I had no interest in that after they told me the chocolate sorbet was vegan. That’s all I wanted. At the end of the meal they brought out little bite-sized desserts (a flavored marshmallow and a mini whoopie pie). Those aren’t vegan, so they brought out a bit of chocolate air. The server described the process, but I don’t remember how he said it was done. It was light and crisp.

20120923-190449.jpg

I used Rent the Runway again this weekend. On Saturday night I wore a Yigal Azrouël dress with a Kenneth Jay Lane bracelet.

20120923-190522.jpg

On Sunday we went to Karyn’s on Green for brunch (amazing French Toast) and I wore a Missoni dress.

20120923-191156.jpg 20120923-191202.jpg

Sugar River Trail

Last Sunday, my friends and I drove up to Brodhead, WI and rode our bikes on the Sugar River Trail to New Glarus, a cute little town that celebrates its Swiss heritage. When we arrived in Brodhead, my tube broke while Walt was putting air in the tire. Fortunately, Anne had a spare. It should have fit because Anne and I are about the same size, but the bike store sold her the wrong size for her bike, so it was too big. Somehow Walt was able to make it work. There was no problem, which was good because the New Glarus bike store is closed on Sundays.

20120917-133517.jpg

And we’re off! Twenty-three miles one-way. The trail is beautiful. The limestone surface takes some getting used to; it’s a much harder ride than pavement. It’s bumpy, too.

20120917-133550.jpg 20120917-133544.jpg 20120917-133605.jpg

This is the infamous Bridge 14. Three years ago, we did this trail and got caught in a horrible thunderstorm. We were drenched, cold and hiding in a barn next to cows to get away from the lightening. (I tricked H into coming along by telling him that it was a 23-mile ride; I failed to mention that was only one way). These bridges get slick in the rain. I fell on the bridge, which caused the person behind me to slam on her brakes and she fell and then the girls behind her did the same – like dominoes. Then guys in front turned their heads to see what happened and they fell, so all six of us were on the ground, or the wet bridge rather. Fortunately no one was hurt, but I’ve been teased relentlessly for causing the bridge 14 accident. I think Walt is trying to reenact the scene (or recreate the scene by pouring his water on the bridge).

20120917-133538.jpg 20120917-133531.jpg

When we get to New Glarus, we walk around town and then head over to The Glarner Stube for lunch.

20120917-133713.jpg 20120917-133723.jpg 20120917-133733.jpg

The Glarner Stube has a vegetarian portabella mushroom sandwich on the menu. It is served with cheese and they cook the mushroom in herb butter, but will leave both of those off upon request. I topped my mushroom off with horseradish and mustard. The fries are pretty tasty, too. We got a couple pitchers of New Glarus Brewing Spotted Cow.

20120917-133738.jpg

After lunch, we took a trolley over to the New Glarus Brewery for a tour and tasting. There is no tour guide (except on Fridays when you have to book months in advance); you just walk around by yourself. A guy is there to answer any questions. You have to pay for the tasting ($3.50 for 3 3-oz tastings), but you get to keep your glass. You can also take your beer with you on the tour.

20120918-082802.jpg 20120917-133838.jpg

I tried the Raspberry Tart, Two Women, and Moon Man.

20120918-082813.jpg

After the tour, we sat outside and enjoyed our last tasting. It was a beautiful day and there is a lovely view.

20120917-133844.jpg 20120918-082818.jpg 20120918-082831.jpg 20120918-082822.jpg

We couldn’t buy any beer at the brewery, because we still had to bike back, but we stopped at a gas station on the way home. New Glarus beer is only sold in Wisconsin. I did buy a biking jersey at the brewery. How cute is that cow jumping over Wisconsin? I was a little chilly on the ride up in a sleeveless shirt (but hot with my jacket on), so I wore my new jersey on the ride back.

20120918-083436.jpg