Archive for the ‘3 tofu puffs’ Category

Hillside Quickie (Seattle)

100% vegan

Cuisine: American
Tofu puffs: 3 out of 5
Price range: $$
Time visited: Twice
Location: 4106 Brooklyn Street (@ NE 41st Street)
Hours: Monday, 12 to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 12 to 7 p.m. (brunch served Saturdays from 12 to 4 p.m. only); closed Thursdays and Sundays.
Contact: 206-632-3037
Website: http://www.hillsidequickie.com/

Hillside Quickie - OutsideHillside Quickie is easily the greasiest greasy spoon we’ve ever been to, vegan or not.

Having first visited the Quickie location in the U-District in the fall of 2008, we recently returned for a second chow-down with eager expectations. Our memories of the towering sammiches seemed almost legendary, and the moment we walked in it seemed that not a thing had changed.

For those of you who cringe at less than sparkling prep spaces in restaurant kitchens, we’d advise you not to look to closely at the grill behind the counter at Hillside Quickie ’cause it is greasy, lemme tell ya. (And if you’re bothered by this kind of thing, well, you’re probably not reading this or any other restaurant reviews anyway.) The thing is, there are some places where the all the hoity toity stuff like decor and crisp table linens matter less than the food. When the Spoonies visit a greasy spoon, we don’t expect it to be pristine.

Where the food is concerned, you’d better be plenty hungry when you visit. The servings are as generously sized as they are (sometimes) oily, and even we have been hard-pressed to finish our meals. It may even be a good idea to split a sandwich or a sub with a friend, ’cause not only will your lunch be cheaper but you’ll avoid feeling a bit sick like we have after making our way through just half of a sammie.

Hillside Quickie - InsideThe mac & yease, served as a rather pricey $4.99 side order, is amazing. If you can get past its wee bit of oiliness, that is. We’ve thought long and hard as to how it’s made since it’s one of the best we’ve ever tried. Looking at it, the lumpy sauce doesn’t look at all appetizing. It doesn’t even taste like the typical mac & cheese most vegans are looking to recreate. But as soon as this onion-laden comfort food hits our mouths, the sauce melts into a perfectly creamy, lip-smacking medley of flavours reminiscent of a comfort food-like casserole. There are several other interesting sides we haven’t tried yet, like the Hush Puppies and the Many Types of Fries – apparently there is a fry menu that has somehow escaped our notice during both visits. We can, however, vouch for the delicious and perfectly seasoned potato salad frequently layered in the shop’s sammies, which is also available for purchase in to-go containers.

Although there are burritos, salads, burgers, wraps, and dinner entrées on the menu, we go to Quickie’s for the sammies. Amongst the offerings we’ve tried are the Freemont Philly Sub, the TLT with Tofustrami, the Seitan Sandwich, and the Flaming BBQ Burger. The sandwiches and burgers cost between $7.99 and $8.99, which, without any added side dishes, makes for a decent and moderately priced meal.

The TLT Tofustrami - Hillside Quickie

The TLT Tofustrami

In a cooler near the entrance, there are tasty-looking pizza slices wrapped up for take-out. And, if you find yourself totally enamoured with the tofu, tempeh, and seitan used in many of the shop’s creations, they’re all available for purchase by the pound to take home with you. On Saturdays only, several tempting brunch dishes are available at the U-District location. Most of the options are savoury, though there is a Waffle Sundae on offer, which seems over the top with its sides of mac & yease and country fried “steak”.

While they have great flavour, our main complaint about the sammies is that the grilled bread slices are often way too oily. On our second visit, the bread quickly fell apart once we tried to pick up the sandwich halves. This is mostly because there is so much stuff piled into the sandwiches, including entire Romaine lettuce leaves folded in half. Our hands, and faces, ended up covered in mayo, crumbs, and oil. Also, the seitan is also pretty oily too, though it has a good texture that isn’t too chewy. And we think the creamy, rich mayo is house-made since it has pretty much no salt or other seasonings in it that we can taste.

If we lived in Seattle, we have to admit that Hillside Quickie is not a place we’d frequent too often. The oiliness of the food makes it far too rich to eat very much of it, though it is a place with food that must be tried. We enjoyed our first visit more than the second, though we might go back when we’re craving really greasy spoon-style food.

The Seitan Sandwich with Mac & Yease - Hillside Quickie

The Seitan Sandwich with Mac & Yease

Hillside Quickie 2008

The Freemont Philly Sub (back) and the Flaming BBQ Burger with mac & yease (front), November 2008 (Stephen Hui)

Bandidas Taquiera

Vegan-friendly

Cuisine: Vegetarian
Tofu puffs: 3 out of 5
Price range: $$
Times visited: 5
Location: 2781 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m. – Midnight; Brunch daily until 3:00 p.m.
Contact: http://bandidastaqueria.com/

Veganized Huevas Rancheras - Bandidas

Veganized Huevas Rancheras

We first discovered Bandidas back in early 2009, a few months after they first opened their doors on the Drive. After having discovered a huge number of vegan-friendly brunches in Portland, we were pretty darn excited to find out about an all-vegetarian Mexican-style brunch spot right here in Vancouver.  Be warned, however, that if it’s the weekend and you have your heart set on brunch, you’d better show up when they open or be prepared to wait awhile (and maybe even wait outside, regardless of the weather).  Bandidas’ is immensely popular and is nearly always packed, especially on the weekends.

There are quite a few brunch spots in the city, though not too many of them are all that vegan friendly or offer decent vegan options. (Yes, we know about The Perch, and of their vegan brunches – we plan to check them out very soon.) Unlike many brunch spots we’ve been to both in and outside of Vancouver, Bandidas is one of only a very few that offers brunch 7 days a week. This is pretty fantastic since anyone visiting Vancouver can be assured of having a warm and satisfied belly any day of the week.

Vegan French Toast with sausages and bacon - Bandidas

Vegan French Toast with Yves sausages and bacon

For vegans, pretty much any dish on the brunch menu can be veganized, with eggs being replaced by a butternut squash and organic tofu scramble and Yves veggie bacon strips and sausages available as side orders. They also use Daiya in any dishes that call for cow’s milk cheese. We’ve tried their Huevas Rancheras, The Hicks Benny, and the Breakfast Burrito, most of which are all delicious and all made using fresh, house-crafted corn tortillas.

The best thing of all about Bandidas is that they have not one but two explicitly vegan options on their brunch menu: The Vegan, a scrambled tofu plate with veggies, pinto beans, and ranchera sauce, and Vegan French Toast.  While we have had better French toast elsewhere, we’ll take the French toast at Bandidas since it’s all we can get in Vancouver. (Again with The Perch – we’ve heard they *might* have a vegan French toast option at their Saturday brunches, and if they do, we’ll let you know.)

Bandidas used to craft an almost amazing house-made vegan sour cream, which we would have liked even more if it weren’t for the fact that they used a vanilla-flavoured soy milk to make it.  We’re told that the recipe was difficult to make consistently, and now they use a pureed tofu and lemon juice sour cream with their vegan offerings.  They also offer honey butter for their vegetarian customers, with an so-so vegan alternative being made with margarine and sugar.  Even though the servers at Bandidas are pretty quick to make the switch between vegan and non-vegan condiments, be sure to ask for the vegan “honey” butter when you order corn bread (yes, the corn bread is vegan too!).

Breakfast Burritos with Daiya - Bandidas

Breakfast Burritos with Daiya

Brunch aside, Bandidas also offers tempting lunch and dinner options.  They’re fully licensed, featuring a bar stocked with several local wines and brews. For the teetotalers and straight edgers, there are organic teas, organic coffees, and virgin drinks, including our favourite: Ella’s lemonade, served in a mason jar just like many of their other beverages.

We like their Los GLD nachos so much that Bandidas’ creation has forever changed how we make nachos at home.  We’ll admit that we haven’t been to there so often for lunch or dinner, though we have had the Ronny Russel and the Leona Gayle hand tacos. We have to confess that we like the hand tacos at La Taqeria better, although the hand tacos at Bandidas are decent nonetheless.

One of our only complaints with Bandidas is about the Mexican rice that accompanies the tacos and enchiladas.  Every time we’ve had it both the rice and the garlic used in the rice have tasted something akin to stale. We’re not sure if this has changed since we’re pretty hesitant to try anything with the rice in it again.

There used to be a much-coveted window table with two rocking chairs.  Sadly, the rocking chairs are no more, though additional seating has been added in the already cozy restaurant. There is also bar seating available with a view of the kitchen. And, Bandidas is kid-friendly!  There’s even a ramshackle bookshelf by the entrance with various papers, magazines, puzzles, story books and novels for both adults and kids.

The Vegan - Bandidas

The Vegan

Another thing we really appreciate about Bandidas is their love of bike culture. With an oft-crammed bike rack out front and vintage bike decor in the restaurant, Bandidas rides the sustainable line by using pedal power in lieu of a company car or truck. Although we haven’t yet seen it yet, they’re said to have a custom-built bike trailer they use to transport the restaurant’s food and equipment. And if you don’t ride a bike, Bandidas is easy to get to by bus or Sky Train.

Because Bandidas’ has a fairly small kitchen, their made-to-order food can sometimes take a bit of time to arrive at the table. Be patient with the servers, who are amazing in handling a very busy bunch of tables. They’ve always been nice, and are really good about checking to see if you’re happy and that you have everything you need.

Bandidas is the only place that gives us a reason to be up and out of the house before 10 a.m. on a Sunday and travel all the way across town with growling bellies. We hope they’re here for a long time to come, and to this we have to say ¡Bandidas de larga viva Taqeria!

Muffintop Corn Bread - Bandidas

Muffintop Corn Bread

 

Trees Organic Coffee (Granville Street)

Some vegan options

Cuisine: Coffee and Tea
Tofu puffs: 3 out of 5
Price range: $
Times visited: At least a dozen
Location: 450 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 1V4
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Contact: 604-684-5060; www.treescoffee.com

Trees Organic Coffee

Outside Trees Organic Coffee on Granville Street.

Trees Organic Coffee is the second coffee shop that The Vegan Spoon’s reviewed, and while we don’t intend to make it a habit of reviewing every coffee shop we’ve been to, we do think there are a few that are worthy of mention.

The Trees location on Granville near West Hastings has been around since 1996, and we’ve been going there since 1998. In our dreadful pre-vegan days, we, along with everyone else, scarfed down their cheesecake. It is, after all, what the small Vancouver-based chain is most well-known for. It also offers a small selection of fresh sandwiches, samosas, croissants, and breakfast items—none of which are vegan. There are Italian sodas available, as well as juices, but we’re not sure if the soda syrups are vegan.

While Trees doesn’t have any vegan cheesecake, it does sell a vegan scone. And a fine scone it is, too. It seems to have the flavour of both a cinnamon-sugar donut and a cinnamon roll. Packed with pumpkin seeds, raisins, and dried apricots, it’s made with whole-wheat flour, so it packs quite an iron-rich punch. It also has a perfect moistness and texture that would convince any scone aficionado that it wasn’t vegan. We’re told that the scones are made fresh every day and that it’s always the same vegan scone on offer. This lack of variety is fine, though, because its cinnamony goodness is the perfect accompaniment to a soy latte. Don’t wait too late in the day to get your scone; by noon or late afternoon, you’re likely to find yourself scone-less.

Vegan scone

The vegan scone at Trees.

Speaking of lattes, it’s not so much the coffee at Trees as the soy-milk options that got us really excited. It’s the first place we’ve ever encountered where a dispenser of soy milk stands proudly next to cow’s milk and cream dispensers at the condiment bar. (Yes, that little station in a cafe where you get the lids and the sugar is called a condiment bar.) So, if you’re feelin’ the drip coffee, you don’t even have to pay extra for the soy. Some cafes will give you the soy-milk carton if you ask, but other cafes will still charge as much for soy as they would if you’d ordered a latte. And, at Trees, ordering a soy latte will cost you only 25 cents extra, opposed to the 45 to 60 cents charged elsewhere. Of course, still having to pay for subbing soy sucks.

While we’re discussing lattes, we’d like to say that whatever blend Trees uses for its decaf lattes is quite nice. It’s no Continental Coffee, but it definitely holds its own in terms of standing out from those other generic places. You know, Timmies, Blenz, and that other chain from Seattle? Star-something? Anyway, Trees’ decaf blend tastes, to us, very much like dark chocolate without the chocolate flavour, ya know? For some people, it might not be stellar enough to go out of their way for. But at $2.93 (before taxes) for a tall latte, we recommend giving it a fair shake at least once.

Soy lattes

Tall and grande decaf soy lattes at Trees.

Should you care to sit down to enjoy your coffee and scone (or tea, as there is an excellent variety of teas available), there is plenty of seating the length of the café, and there’s even a couch—right below the “tree” near the entrance. At the moment, the Canada Line construction leftovers on Granville Street make getting to Trees’ front door quite a hassle. That said, whenever we’ve been there there’s been plenty of customers who have made the roundabout trek to get into the café, and that’s gotta mean something when it comes to Trees’ quality. This also means that, while accessibility is usually no problem for the stroller set or peeps with mobility devices, at the moment this is not so.

Trees is also open later into the day, which is nice for date-night after-dinner coffee or for meeting up with friends before heading out for a movie or a bar. There is an events schedule on the Trees website, and it appears that the Granville location hosts music nights. Their Twitter feed has also mentioned movies. Lately, though, it seems that there is neither music nor movies at Trees. We assume this is because of the ghost town construction on Granville has created. When all is clear, we’ll update this post to let y’all know.

In the meantime, get your tush over to Trees and show ’em how much you love their vegan scones. Perhaps if enough of us show up and ask for Chi Cake, vegans and non-vegans alike can enjoy cheesecake at Trees.

Gorilla Food

100% vegan

Cuisine: Raw
Tofu puffs: 3 out of 5
Price range: $$
Times visited: Way too many times to count
Location: 101-436 Richards Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2Z4
Hours: Every day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: 604-684-3663; www.gorillafood.com

Gorilla Food

The entrance to Gorilla Food.

This review is a little one-sided. See, only one half of The Vegan Spoonies will eat at Gorilla Food. This is definitely not because there’s anything bad about the place. It’s just that some people don’t like raw food that much. That’s all good.

The original Gorilla Food was located just half a block north of its current location. It was a little takeout window that was perfect for cyclists and pedestrians. In the fall of 2008, owner Aaron Ash moved the restaurant to a larger space—a hip subterranean burrow with a decidedly cozy feel and earthy look. Below-street-level restaurants are unusual in Vancouver, but despite the radically different setting and menu options at Gorilla Food, this place attracts a diverse number of people—everyone from businessmen in suits and dreadlocked Rastafarians to punks and emo kids.

There is a small amount of seating, enough for about 15 to 20 people. Regrettably, the space is not really kid-friendly; there is little space to maneuver with a stroller, so you’ll have to pack it up before heading in. It may also be difficult for some people with accessibility concerns to get down the short but steep flight of stairs leading from the street into the restaurant.

As if it isn’t cool enough that a little raw-food vegan restaurant such as this is thriving in downtown Vancouver, Gorilla Food uses 100% biodegradable sugarcane-based paper containers and cups for most of its takeout food. And they use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap in the bathroom! The hand soap is sort of a big deal when you think about it. We’ve been to many vegan and vegetarian restaurants that overlook the animal ingredient/animal testing aspect of products used in their bathrooms.

Thai Fresh Wraps

Thai Fresh Wraps.

Gorilla Food offers a decent selection of smoothies, fresh juices, sprouted snacks and crackers, appetizers, salads, and main courses. But keep in mind that its kitchen uses a lot of seeds and nuts, so this is not a good place for anyone with nut or seed allergies. Also—and we have to say it—this is not a place that most people we know like to eat at all the time. They say it’s the place they go when they need to feel more nourished and a little healthier. And it’s not cheap; the average price of most menu items is $6.50. And that’s not including a drink or dessert. Keep in mind that Gorilla Food accepts cash only, so don’t forget to arrive with cash in hand unless you want to leave with an empty tummy.

My favourite dish by far is the Thai Fresh Wraps. They are “Three collard leaf wraps filled with a sprouted sunflower seed and veggie pate, sesame seasoned coleslaw and served with a ginger raisin chutney.” They’re actually an appie, but I find them filling enough to eat on their own as a main. Another good main is the Veggie Burger. This is the best item to start off with for anyone new to this kind of cuisine. It looks impressive on a plate and is such an interesting combination of flavours and textures. The Falafel is surprisingly good, but I’d pass on the Green Taco and the Cashew Alfredo Zucchini Linguini—both of those dishes were oddly bland and too watery. And the pizza is an acquired taste, so it’s not the best item to start with.

Sprouted Chili Almonds

Sprouted Chili Almonds.

As far as appies and snacks go, the Sprouted Chili Almonds, the Sunny Ginger Nori dehydrated crackers, and the guacamole and crackers are hits. The guacamole is so creamy and perfectly seasoned with finely minced onions and lime juice that I wouldn’t miss a chance to get some.

The desserts are unusual, and by that I mean really good. There is a hemp-chocolate mousse-like cake not on the menu but that I frequently see in the dessert cooler. It’s lovely. The dark raw chocolate fudge, the Gorilla Biscuit, and the truffles (also not on the menu) are pretty yummy.

If you haven’t tried raw food before, this is a good place to introduce yourself to it. If you feel inclined to give it a go at home, Gorilla Food sells a small selection of staple items, such as cocoa butter, bulk nori and cashews, a spiralizer, and even raw-food cookbooks, to take home with you.