Boston Veggie


The few vegan restaurants in Metro Boston
November 3, 2009, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Restaurant reviews

There are very few vegan restaurants in Boston. Even worse, there are practically none in Back Bay where I live. If you live in Cambridge or Allston it seems you’re good to go, but in Back Bay we got NADA. Given the slim pickin’s of Boston’s veg restaurants, here is a list of the vegan restaurants that DO exist in the Metro Boston area. I’ll give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the ones I liked and the ones I didn’t like.

Grasshopper
Located at One North Beacon Street in Allson.
MBTA: Allston Street Stop on Green Line B Trolly, then it’s about a 1/4 mile walk. OR # 57, 64 or 66 bus stops in Union Square.
This restaurant is all vegan and Asian. I wasn’t thrilled with this place. I’ve tried it about three times, but in general I think I’m going to have to give it a thumbs down. It’s all fake meat, and not very good fake meat at that. It’s not the easiest thing to get to by T, and when I’ve ordered it, it took literally hours. Thumbs down.

Grezzo Restaurant
Located at 69 Prince Street in Boston’s North End
Take the green or orange lines to Haymarket and head into the North End from there.
This restaurant is all raw vegan. I went through a period where all I wanted in the world was to be a raw foodist, but it is really really hard and really really expensive, especially in Boston. A meal for two here at Grezzo cost ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS and NONE of the food is cooked! Imagine that ( I should note we shared app’s and dessert, and we only drank water). The appetizers I’ve had were great (they change seasonally, but give the “sliders” a try… they were delish!) and the dessert was SINFUL. I had some type of brownie vanilla ice cream treat and it was SO good. But the most expensive part of the meal, the main entree, has always let me down. I’ve never had a good one. AND they don’t serve alcohol, big debbie-downer there. Sooo I’m going to give a sideways thumb for this restaurant. I think it’s worth a visit, I loved those sliders and the dessert, but I probably wouldn’t go back. Also, make sure you call to make a reservation… the line is always out the door. Sideways thumb.

My Thai Vegan Cafe and Bubble Tea Bistro
3 Beach Street, 2nd floor, at corner of Washington ST.
Take the Orange Line to Chinatown or Green Line to Boylston.
This restaurant gets a HUGE RUBBER FOAM THUMBS UP from me . Although most Asian places have vegan-friendly options, My Thai Vegan Cafe has all the stuff we can’t get, but VEGAN! For example, I love lo mein, but most lo mein noodles contain eggs. At My Thai Vegan, I get the Chicken Lo Mein with no worry of its ingredients! There are a zillion things on the menu ranging from Thai to Chinese and everything in between, but I’m just glad I can get some of my childhood favorites here and that they taste really really REALLY good. Also, they have vegan bubble tea. I don’t know about you, but I love bubble tea! Definitely worth a visit. It’s right near the movie theater in the Commons so I usually go right before or after a movie. Great for date night! HUGE THUMBS UP.

TJ Scallywaggle’s Vegan House of Pizza
Right next to Grasshopper, 487 Cambridge Street (Union Square), Allston (Boston)
MBTA: Allston Street stop on Green Line B trolley, then walk north on Allston St. 1/4 mile and turn left into Union Square. Or, Buses #57, #64, #66 stop in Union Square.
Ooooooooh TJ Scallywagg’s… what can I say about you. For vegan junk food, this is the place to go. I ordered the Chicken Parmesan sub and my boyfriend ordered the “Meatza” calzone. I did not enjoy my sub, but I loved his calzone. The fake sausage here is fantastic. I wasn’t a big “sausage” fan prior to veganism, I was more of a pepperoni/bacon/prosciutto kind of a girl, but their sausage is good. The fake cheese here looks really weird, so I wasn’t a fan of that either. And I know this place is for junk food, but it annoys me that you can’t order some type of whole wheat or multi grain pizza dough. I’m sure there are plenty of Veggies in it for the animals, but I’m in it for me. So can you please offer us “health minded” veggies some options? Even Pizza Hut has whole wheat crust now a days! Thumbs down.

Veggie Planet
47 Palmer Street, Downstairs
Take the Red Line to Harvard Square or the # 1 Bus
*** Cash only
Veggie Planet is a vegetarian restaurant that has vegetarian and vegan pizzas or rice dishes, and a brunch on Sundays. I got the Vegan Oddlot (fresh marinated tomatoes, spinach, and homemade tofu-basil mash topped with kalamata olives and fried garlic) and my friend got the Caesar salad pizza (vegan). I loved both of our meals, and there were so many things to choose from! Almost anything on this menu can be made vegan with a few substitutions, and the weekly specials are almost always vegan. I’ve heard that the brunch is divine, though I haven’t tried it yet. Veggie Planet is a Thumbs Up for me.

Vej Naturals
264 Washington Street, Malden
MBTA:  100 yds. from the Oak Grove stop on the Orange Line
Vej Naturals is currently under construction so they are not available to eat at right now, but in a few weeks I’m sure they will be up and running again. And it’s a good thing too: this restaurant is tiny, sooo tiny. There were literally four tables crammed into a space even too small for that small amount of tables. So I hope that gets improved. I went for brunch. A friend and I split the tofu scramble and pancakes, which were both really good. But the service was horrible, and it’s probably a half hour if not more ride on the T. For me, though the food was good, it was not worth the trip, and not worth the pathetic excuse for a waiting staff they employ. It’s going to have to be a thumbs down on this one.

Wheeler’s Cafe and Ice Cream Bar
Located at 334 Mass Ave at the corner of Mass Ave and Huntington.
Orange line to Massachusetts Avenue or Green line to Symphony.
Finally! A vegan joint in Back Bay! woo hoo. The problem? The food here is terrible. The ice cream is FANTASTIC, try the Reese’s flavor or the Cherry Chocolate or really any flavor is amazing. But the food, the “sandwiches” and “salads” are horrible. They are pre-made days in advance so the bread is really soggy and just generally not a good experience. For ice cream? HUGE thumbs up. For lunch? Even bigger thumbs down.

Red Lentil Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant
600 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown
Take the Red Line to Harvard Square, then bus #71 to Watertown Sq.
I have never been to Red Lentil, but I looked at the menu and it looked awesome! Very veggie-oriented which I like, meaning they don’t focus on the fake stuff. Most of their meals center around vegetables and all the meals look delicious and good for you. I’ve never been, but based on the menu I give it a thumbs up, based on the location, thumbs down.

So there you have it. The only vegan restaurants in Boston. And I only gave a few thumbs up. As you can see, most are in Cambridge or Allston, which is not near where I live. Go out and see for yourself what you like and what you don’t, and let me know if you agree or disagree with my reviews.

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Alicia Silverstone does NYC!
November 3, 2009, 12:05 pm
Filed under: Restaurant reviews

Sooo Boston is really lame as far as strictly vegan restaurants. We’ve got My Thai Vegan Cafe in Chinatown which is delicious, best lo mein EVER, and T.J. Scallywag’s in Allston (not too big of a fan, but to each his own), but Beantown is severely lacking in vegan/vegetarian restaurants. As I’ve shown through previous posts, it is not a matter of going to vegan restaurants all the time, it’s a matter of eating veganly in carniverous scenarios.

BUT New York City is a different story. I am originally from New York so I have always been jealous of the seemingly never ending variety of vegan treats in Manhattan. If you ever find yourself in NYC and you don’t know where to find a vegan restaurant, just head to the Village, there’s a vegan restaurant on every corner. Not that there aren’t vegan restaurants all over the place in NYC, I’m just saying you can’t throw a penny without hitting a vegan restaurant in the village. In midtown or uptown, you’ll have to do a little extra searching to find vegan restaurants.

Alicia Silverstone has been doing a lot of work promoting her new book The Kind Diet, and she recently made a three minute youtube video where she goes around NYC and eats at a bunch of different vegan restaurants. I was especially excited because I’ve been to one of the restaurants she surveys AND I had what she has. Sacred Chow in the village is seriously the BEST breakfast and reuben I’ve had. Mouth is watering just thinking about it! So here’s a snipit of why I am so jealous of all vegan New Yorkers and all the choices they have. I know it isn’t Boston-based, but it’s good to know the places to go if you ever find yourself in the Big Apple!

Watch the video here!



Ciao Bella
October 28, 2009, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Restaurant reviews

Sometimes when you go out to eat, you want to do something a little classier than some chain restaurant. In Boston, Newbury Street provides some of the finest dining around. One restaurant I love to go to is Ciao Bella, located at 240 Newbury Street. If the name didn’t imply it already, Ciao Bella is Italian themed and has a few delicious things vegans can get. Here is what you can have at Ciao Bella in Boston!

Antipasti

Bruschetta di Pomodori
Description: Tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh mozzarella, served over crostini
How to make it vegan: Just ask for no cheese and this bruschetta is deeeeelish! Aside from the cheese, it is veg all the way.

Funghi Portobello
Description: portobello mushroom sautéed, olive oil, garlic, lemon and white wine, roasted peppers, over fresh spinach
How to make it vegan: You don’t have to do a thing! It is vegan all by itself! Who knew?

Insalate

Insalata della Casa
Description: Romaine, vine-ripe tomato, cucumbers, carrots, house dressing
How to make it vegan: Nothing!

Insalata di Spinaci
Description: Fresh baby spinach with bell pepper, tomatoes, walnuts, bleu cheese, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil
How to make it vegan: No cheese please.

Pasta

Pasta Primavera with whole wheat penne
Description: Pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and summer squash with cream, parmigiano and pecorino romano cheese
How to make it vegan: Say you have a dairy allergy, so you can’t have cheese or cream. Substitute the creamy, artery killing sauce with a delightful marinera instead. This is what I get every time, it is oh so good.

Linguini Aglio, Olio e Olive nere
Description: Extra virgin olive oil, Italian black olives, basil, garlic, tomatoes
How to make it vegan: All you have to do is substitute the linguini for whole wheat penne. Unfortunately, the regular pasta at Ciao Bella has eggs in it. But if you’re a real Veggie like me, you want the whole wheat anyway because it is just so gosh darn good for ya! Also, just say no cheese for good measure. Though it isn’t an ingredient listed, many times Italian restaurants will throw on a splash of parmesean.

Though there aren’t scores of things to choose from, you have plenty of appetizers and entree’s available. I get the bruschetta and penne primavera and I NEVER leave hungry. Truly one of my favorite spots in Boston!



Dining out- Prudential Center
October 13, 2009, 2:11 pm
Filed under: Restaurant reviews

Dining Out: The Prudential Center

PrudentialSo you’ve got friends coming into town and you’re trying to plan a nice dinner for everyone. You’re vegan, you have 1 other vegan friend, and the rest eat whatever they want. Where should you go to dinner?

While Boston is severely lacking in strictly vegan restaurants, it does have plenty of veg-friendly options in non-veg settings. Our first stop will be at the Prudential Center.

If you’ve ever been to the Pru, you know that it consists of mostly chain restaurants, making it even easier to look up a menu and plan your meal. The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Changs, California Pizza Kitchen, Legal Sea Foods, and the new Wagamama’s all have vegan friendly options. Who knew? (I should disclose now, I have no ties to these corporations. None of them are paying me, though if anyone from these restaurants would like to start paying me, I will gladly accept and disclose my relationship with them at that time… until then I’m just recommending what I like).

*Note: anything I recommend is not cooked with meat, dairy or eggs. However, many vegans also exclude honey from their diet. I don’t. So some of these things may have honey in the ingredients.

The Cheesecake Factory

Appetizers

Thai Lettuce wraps– no chicken
Description (without chicken): Carrots, Bean Sprouts, Coconut Curry Noodles and Lettuce Leaves with three delicious Spicy Thai Sauces – Peanut, Sweet Red Chili and Tamarind-Cashew.

Guacamole Made-to-Order– no sour cream
Description (no sour cream): Ripe Avocado, Onion, Tomato, Chiles, Cilantro and Fresh Lime. Served with Tortilla Chips, and Salsa. Soooo good!

Edamame
Description: A Bowl of Soy Beans Steamed in their Pods.

Not vegan, even though they sound like they could be: Avacado Egg rolls (Contains eggs), Sweet Corn Tomales (Even if you say “no sour cream,” they are cooked with both milk and eggs).

Entrée’s

All salads can be ordered with no meat or cheese. But some of them would just be lettuce after that, so my favorite is the Fresh Vegetable Salad. Just order it with no cheese and you’ll have to get a different dressing.
Description: Asparagus, Green Beans, Tomato, Cucumber, Roasted Beets, Apple, Edamame, Radicchio, Romaine and White Cheddar with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Vegan dressings at Cheesecake Factory: Chinese, Cilantro, Citrus Vinaigrette, Japanese, Vinaigrette, Lime Vinaigrette, Peanut Vinaigrette, Shallot Vinaigrette, Asian Vinaigrette, Sheila’s Vinaigrette. All others either contain dairy or eggs or both.

IMPORTANT: I just recently found out that the Balsamic Vinaigrette at Cheesecake Factory has BEEF BROTH IN IT. So gross since I’ve totally eaten it before.

The Incredible Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with no cheese or garlic aioli on whole wheat instead of the bun it comes with. The bun contains eggs and milk, so if you don’t want whole wheat bread that’s fine but beware the bun’s contents.
Description: Grilled Japanese Eggplant, Roasted Red Peppers, Red Onion, Melted Mozzarella and Garlic Aioli on Our Toasted Bun. Served with French Fries or Green Salad.

*isn’t it great that most French Fries are vegan? Mmmmm.

Grilled Portabella Sandwich is my personal favorite thing on the menu. It is DELICIOUS. I used to get it even when I wasn’t veg, so now that I am a simple switch to no cheese and no mayo allows me to still get my favorite thing post-veg.
Description: A Giant Portabella Mushroom Served on a Bun with Lettuce, Tomato, Grilled Red Onion, Melted Cheese and Spicy Mayonnaise. Served with French Fries or Green Salad. Just order no cheese, no mayo, and a different bun and you’re good to go. I always bring Veganaise from home and even my organic ketchup because I love condiments and I will NOT live without them. Just have to be prepared!

Pasta
A good vegan cop-out is usually pasta. If you’re vegetarian, there are plenty to choose from. Unfortunately all of the pasta noodles at Cheesecake Factory contain milk and eggs. Which I don’t mind at all because I loooove the Portobello.

Desserts
Unfortunately no desserts are vegan either, but if you’ve ever been to Cheesecake Factory you know that their portions are massive and even the non-vegs might not be able to fit in a slice of cheesecake.

PF Changs
PF is great because they have an entirely vegetarian menu, all of which happen to be vegan as well.

Appetizers
Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
Description: Vegetables and tofu.

Spring Rolls– Vegan whether you like it or not!
Description: Vegetables including carrots and cabbage fried.

Vegetable Dumplings

Entrée’s
Buddha’s Feast

Description: Vegetable medley with five-spice tofu served steamed or stir fried

Coconut Curry Vegetables
Description: Stir Fried mixed vegetables, crispy silken tofu, and peanuts in a vegetarian coconut curry sauce.

Stir Fried Eggplant
Description: Tossed with scallions in a savory pepper sauce.

Ma Po Tofu
Description: Sichuan’s famous dish of crispy silken tofu in a vegetarian sauce with steamed broccoli

Vegetable Chow Fun
Description: Soft, wide rice noodles and vegetables in a vegetarian sauce.

Side Dishes
Spinach stir-fried with garlic

Garlic snap peas

Spicy green beans

Wok-seared mushrooms

Sichuan-style asparagus

My personal favorites are the lettuce wraps, the spring rolls, the Vegetable Chow Fun, the Ma Po Tofu, and all of the sides. All vegan!

Desserts
No vegan desserts.

*Important: Don’t be tricked into ordering the vegetable lo mein. Lo mein noodles always have eggs in them, and this specific dish is cooked with chicken broth. Unfortunately they are not available at PF Changs, but Soba noodles are available at many other Asian restaurants, have a similar consistency to lo mein noodles and are completely vegan (and made of buckwheat, which is so much better for you!)

California Pizza Kitchen
CPK as I like to abbreviate it is a treasure trove of vegan options. And no one would have ever guessed because pizza automatically conjures images of cheesey meaty goodness. And there is plenty of that on the menu, definitely. But wait until you see what good stuff is here for Veggies too!

Appetizers
Lettuce Wraps– no chicken
Description (without meat): Shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and green onions in a soy ginger sauce. Served on a bed of crispy rice noodles with a side of spicy chili-ginger sauce.

Herb-Onion Focaccia with Checca
Description: Italian-style herb-onion pizza bread hearth baked and served with a fresh combination of Roma tomatoes, basil, garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Tuscan Hummus– the hummus here is amaaazzzing. I’ve had a zillion hummuses before and this one is by far the best. Ever. So good!
Description: Our original recipe of Tuscan white beans puréed with sesame, garlic, lemon and spices. Garnished with fresh Roma tomatoes, basil and garlic. Served with warm pizza-pita bread. You can even order whole wheat pita bread for extra nutrition.

Asparagus soup– no croutons
Description: A creamless vegetarian soup.

Dakota Smashed Pea and Barley Soup
Description: Hearty, vegetarian split pea with barley, carrots, onions and savory herbs. Garnished with chopped green onions.

Salads
Grilled Vegetable Salad
– this salad is great because you don’t have to say “no cheese or no meat.” Literally, it is innately vegan. So you can just say “Grilled Vegetable salad please,” and you’re done!
Description: Grilled asparagus, Japanese eggplant, zucchini, green onions and roasted corn served warm over a bed of chilled Romaine lettuce, fresh avocado and sun-dried tomatoes in a Dijon balsamic vinaigrette. Tossed upon request.

Field Greens Salad– no candied walnuts
Description: A delicious blend of field greens, pears and candied walnuts tossed in Dijon balsamic vinaigrette

Pizzas

Vegetarian with Japanese Eggplant– no cheese on honey wheat dough (contains honey)
Description (with no cheese): baby broccoli, grilled Japanese eggplant, roasted corn, sliced red onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and our tomato sauce. My favorite. SO good.

Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Peppers– no cheese or bacon.
Description (cheese and bacon omitted): Roasted red & yellow peppers, grilled Japanese eggplant, caramelized onions, Italian parsley and our tomato sauce.

Pastas

Asparagus and Spinach Spaghettini– No cheese
Description (without cheese): A light pasta with sautéed asparagus, spinach, fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic.

Broccoli Sun-Dried Tomato Fusilli– No cheese
Description (without cheese): Fusilli with fresh baby broccoli, garlic, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, and fresh thyme.

Desserts

Fresh Fruit

Legal Sea Foods
While this menu’s vegan options are not as extensive, they still exist. If your friends are forcing you to go to Legal Sea Foods, at least you know you have an option. It isn’t ideal, but it is something.

Appetizers
Edamame

Dinner
Vegetarian box
Description: Asian flavored stir-fried vegetables, Thai red coconut curry sauce, cashews, tofu and brown rice

Yes, I agree these options are boring. But like I mentioned, if you are stuck with people from work or clients or friends who just really, really want Legal Sea Foods, fear not. You won’t starve!

Wagamama
Wagamama is an Asian restaurant with plenty of vegan options. Here’s what you can get:

Appetizers
Edamame
Description: Freshly steamed green soy beans, the perfect complement to drinks. hold up to your mouth and squeeze the succulent beans from the pod. choose sprinkled with either salt or chili garlic salt

Grilled Asparagus
Description: Asparagus spears grilled with chili garlic salt and glazed with a citrus yakitori sauce. Garnished with black and white sesame seeds.

Miso Soup and Japanese style pickles
Description: A light dashi soup flavored with white miso paste, wakame, tofu and thin sliced scallion. Served with traditional pickles

Raw Salad
Description: A combination of mixed leaves, thin cut daikon, red onion, scallion and carrot. Served with wagamama house dressing and garnished with fried shallots.

Salad
Marinated Yasai noodle salad
Description: Marinated and grilled eggplant, portabella mushroom and zucchini, combined with caramelized red onion, roasted sweet potato, asparagus, diced tomato and mixed leaves. Served with wagamama house dressing and garnished with pickled red ginger and sesame seeds.

Soup
Moyashi Soba

Description: Whole wheat noodles in a vegetable soup topped with stir-fried tofu, button mushroom, squash, snow peas, leek, bean sprouts and garlic. Garnished with sliced scallion.

Noodle Dish
Yasai Chili Men- MY FAVORITE.
Description: Stir-fried shiitake and button mushrooms, fried tofu, squash, red onion, peppers, snow peas and scallion. Served with whole wheat noodles in a chili sauce made from chilies, ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass, sweet red pepper and tomato.

Yasai Yaki Soba– order with  no eggs
Description: Teppan-fried whole wheat noodles with egg, red onion, scallion, garlic, button and shiitake mushroom, butternut squash, bean sprouts, and peppers. Garnished with black and white sesame seeds, fried shallots, pickled red ginger and spicy cilantro.

Rice Dish
Yasai cha han- order with no eggs
Description: Stir-fried rice with egg, butternut squash, snow peas, sweet corn, fried tofu, button and shiitake mushroom and scallion. Accompanied by a bowl of vegetarian miso soup and japanese style pickles.

Dessert
Sorbet

I will not be reviewing Prudential restaurants in the food court, or restaurants: Top of the Hub, Sel de la terre, the Daily Grill, L’Espalier, Tossed or Haru because I’ve never been to these places and their websites did not give me a better understanding of what vegetarian options are available. But with the restaurants I have reviewed, you have plenty of options!