Still Vegan but Less Fabulous

posted on May 8th, 2009 in Your Home 6 Comments

the lowdown: One Crazy Year

After a few weeks of struggling with the notion, I have decided to take an official sabbatical from blogging. This was an extremely difficult decision as I have experienced great (and not so great food), met amazing people and lasting friends, and laughed (and cried) at the feedback. For the longest time I wondered where my personal threshold was for life activity, apparently I have figured it out.

I will be back when things slow down. In the meantime, thank you everyone for your support, friendship, and vegan love! You’re the best!



Grand Central Consumer

posted on April 5th, 2009 in Portland 7 Comments

the lowdown: Grand Central | 839 SE Morrison St., Portland, OR 97214 | 503.236.BOWL | Website | Lunch, Dinner | Entrees $8.25 – $21.95 | ***

A little bit of grub and a lot of bowling!

Fresh off spring break I’ve been trying to kick back into my normal routine but am having difficulty focusing. I feel like I have been hibernating for six months and am wide awake and ready to start little projects around the house, fine tune wedding details, and shop for spring/summer clothes. It seems only appropriate I’d be taking a Marketing Management course this term as I am knee deep in consumerism.

Speaking of money, what better way to spend $42/hour than on a bowling lane for a group of amateurs! That’s right, close out your savings account because bowling these days is not cheap! The once dilapidated bowling alley is now a bridge and tunnel mecca! On weekends the restaurant is packed and expect a 2 hour wait for a lane! Don’t be afraid to join in the fun though, the Portobello Sandwich ($9.25) is easily vegan without the cheese, aioli, OR fries and it is pretty good. In addition, the bowling shoes were renewed with the building renovation so you won’t be trapped sticking your feet in 30 year old slogs. Phew! I think we did our part to stimulate the economy yesterday!

Chilling Recession Proof at East End

posted on March 20th, 2009 in Portland 10 Comments

the lowdown: East End | 203 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214 | 503.232.0056 | Website | Dinner, Late Night, Happy Hour | ****

Super cheap eats!

Just when I was about to swear off local businesses for their lack of business sense and overall bitchy attitude, I spent a couple hours at East End and feel better about Portland. It is amazing to me in this economy how difficult it is to correspond with restaurants, bakeries, venues and wine bars. Either all of them are insanely busy (doubtful) or none of them understand the first thing about customer service (likely). Nonetheless, I threw back a tall glass of lemon water and good grub last night and feel much better!

The East End, formerly The Rabbit Hole, is a low key bar with a cheap as hell happy hour menu, photo booth, and a restroom at the end of a long dark scary hallway. If it wasn’t for my friend always keeping me up on the food scene, I would have never guessed this place would have been an option for my finicky ass. Everything on the dinner menu is <$10 and includes a vegan burrito ($7), tacos ($6), and BBQ Tofu sandwich ($7). More importantly, Happy Hour is from 4-7 and offers the burrito and BBQ Tofu sandwich for $4! No need to bust the piggy bank on this one folks, eat your heart out!

Portobello – The Versatile Kind

posted on March 4th, 2009 in Portland 5 Comments

the lowdown: Portobello Vegan Tratoria | 2001 SE 11th Ave., Portland, OR 97214 | 503.754.5993 | Website | Dinner only | Entrees $7 – $12 | ***

All vegan Italian!

Work is busy, school is busy, people’s kid’s are busy, and pets have dental appointments. As a result, over the last several years my friendships have largely involved occasional emails, dinner dates, and maybe a movie. Unfortunately, everyone’s busy schedule has a way of obfuscating strong friendships. It isn’t until something significant occurs in one’s life does the dividing line between supportive friends and those you simply dine with become obvious. Throughout the fog of excitement and stress of wedding planning, I have re-discovered some amazing people in my life. How I found them or they found me, I can’t explain. I only hope I can express my appreciation in the short amount of time we do have.

Part of wedding planning always involves choosing very important dates, especially the bridal shower. A great friend and bridesmaid graciously offered to throw the party so we met at the new Portobello to discuss preliminary details! The best way to describe Portobello is tapas style Italian. All main dishes are offered in two sizes, but even the larger size is disappointingly small. We were both quite hungry and had difficulty deciding so we ordered several dishes. To begin we shared the Bagna Cauda ($6), an antipasti with bread, veggies, and garlic/olive oil dip.  Round two included the Roast Brussels Sprouts ($4), Saltimboca alla Vegana ($8), “hearts” wrapped seitan, and Pumpkin Cappeliacci ($10), dumplings stuffed with pumpkin and layered with cashew sauce. The food is good, but not terribly exciting. However, like the Portobello mushroom, the restaurant has a variety of offerings and brings a much needed element to the currently contracting vegan dining landscape. Not to mention it is a great place to dine with the friends you want to see more often.

The Surviving Blue Pig

posted on February 21st, 2009 in Portland 10 Comments

the lowdown: Blue Pig | 5026 SE Division St., Portland, OR 97206 | 503.231.2775 | Website | Entrees $4.95 – $10.95 | ***

Seriously large portions and the best build your own tofu scramble in town!

It seems every week I am updating a blog post to indicate the restaurant has closed. It saddens me each time because not only does it mean lost jobs and vacant storefronts; in most cases it is one less restaurant for us to enjoy. Even Great Harvest stopped baking vegan muffins and scones, apparently they aren’t recession proof. Last week I would I have told you the recession hadn’t affected me or anyone I was close to, but stark news a few days ago proved that the recession’s dark cloud was looming in my proximity and had captured someone I love. Despite the recently passed stimulus plan, I continue to feel a combination of helplessness, anger, and fear. How much more can we lose? I think it is only a matter of time until we find out.

A few weeks ago we broke our brunch dry spell by checking out Blue Pig on Division. A quaint diner with a subtle 50′s era feel, mostly due to the waiter’s t-shirt with rolled up sleeves and 501′s. Although your choices are limited to the tofu scramble, don’t be turned off because for $9.95 you can build your own scramble and include as much or as little of the items for the same price! With options includeing olives, peppers, vegan sausage, broccoli and onions to name a few, I was tempted to order the entire list! All portions are large, as is the soup mug sized latte! Blue Pig is a relative new-comber having only opened their doors last July. My hope is folks will return for the value if nothing else.

The Farm in the City

posted on February 8th, 2009 in Portland 10 Comments

the lowdown: The Farm Cafe | 10 SE 7th Ave. Portland, OR 97214 | 503.736.FARM | Website | Entrees $9 – $20 | *****

Hot spot on Burnside!

In an effort to understand Portland city planning and the various zoning codes, I attended a Land Use class sponsored by the City of Portland. Despite being one of the youngest in a sea of retirees, I finally understand the difference between R5, CS, and IG1 and can decrypt the meaning of overly zones including h, x, j, to name a few. Who knows if this knowledge will ever prove handy, it certainly makes for interesting conversation over dinner at The Farm and annoying Facebook status updates. The important lesson I did learn from the Land Use class is it doesn’t take much to stay informed; choosing not to can mean having an eight story condo building as your neighbor rather than a park.

Despite The Farm’s current menu having only one vegan entree, I can’t think of a single vegan who doesn’t absolutely love the place. Just one block off East Burnside, The Farm occupies an early 1900′s house complete with a cramped dining room and kitchen. They are undergoing contruction to expand the undersized rooms, but until then, expect 30 – 90 minutes to be seated. During your lengthy wait you can enjoy the Roasted Garlic ($6) or Hummus Plate ($8) appetizers to tide you over until the highly acclaimed, often replicated but never duplicated, Herb Crusted Tofu with Mushrooms Marsala ($12) arrives. The dining room is too dark for pictures but expect a rich mound of garlic mashed potatoes, crusted tofu wedges, and a sea of crimini mushrooms. While dining we heard rumor there are plans to expand the vegan menu. My god, if the rumor is true, they better start contacting the city to obtain permits for additional expansion. Let’s hope the setbacks won’t stand in the way!

Une fille fabuleuse de Vegan à Montréal

posted on January 28th, 2009 in Montreal 11 Comments

the lowdown: Montréal, Canada

Montreal in January is the antithesis of Mexico and that is exactly why I chose the fantastic city for my 30th birthday destination. Although short, the trip was complete with nightlife, culture, history, and great food. Not to mention everyone primarily speaks French but will shift to near perfect English on demand for ignorant Americans such as ourselves.

Between Old Montreal and Downtown Montreal lies the stunning W hotel. It was conveniently located near the Metro, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants.

L’Escalier – 552 Sainte-Catherine Ste. est, Montreal | 514.670.5812 | Website | On our first full day in Montreal we walked a long distance on the never ending Sainte Catherine Street which begins with blocks of shopping, transitions to sex shops and eventually continues to the gay district. L’Escalier is a small upstairs bohemian cafe offering a number of vegan options under $10.

Chu Chai – 4088-4094 rue Saint-Denis, Montreal | 514.843.4194 | Website | One of the first things we did in Montreal was purchase tickets to the contemporary dance “In-I” featuring Juliette Binoche. Prior to the show we dined at Chu Chai, the most amazing Thai restuarant I have ever experienced. Entirely vegetarian with significant vegan options. We chose the 3 course meal for $28/pp which included a sample of five appetizers, a main course, and dessert!

Le Commensal – 1204 McGill College Street, Montreal | 514.871.1480 |Website | The two locations in Montreal offer a gigantic vegetarian buffet with many vegan options priced by the pound. If you are into buffets, here’s your place. I simply can’t get over the notion of everyone digging into the same food.

Spirite Lounge - 1205 rue Ontario Est, Montreal | 5140.522.5353 | We celebrated my 30th birthday at the Spirite Lounge and words cannot describe the experience properly. One man runs this regimented vegan restaurant offering one dish in two sizes. You absolutely must finish everything on your plate or you violate the “Golden Rule”. We had heard rumor dessert would be denied, fortunately we both ate our food. Also, no tap water is offered, however you can purchase a bottle of spring water and must drink everything you pour. We enjoyed the food as we carefully poured out our water, stuffed our faces, and quickly snapped photos while he wasn’t looking. It is important to note that if you chose the small dinner portion, your dessert portion will also be small. Simply fantastic!

In conclusion, I wanted to characterize Montreal as something simliar to the feeling you get when you eat coffee and fries. A little bit of class combined with grit. Exactly how I want to lead my thirtysomething life.

Soul Vegetarian Saved My Soul

posted on January 21st, 2009 in Atlanta 8 Comments

the lowdown: Soul Vegetarian | 879 Ralph David Abernathy SW, Atlanta, GA 30310 | 404.752.5194 | Lunch, Dinner | Entrees $6 – $12 | *****

Unsuspected food in an unsuspecting place!

Despite taking a 2 week hiatus from this blog, I am still here and kicking with a backlog of things to write about! To recap, I got engaged, turned 30, went to Montreal for my birthday, set a wedding date, booked a wedding location and photographer, planned our honeymoon, started a new school term on the topic of Financial Management, and rejoiced at our new president! Who cares about all of that stuff anyway, we are here to talk about food! En route to Montreal we had a layover in Atlanta. No sooner did we find ourselves a seat at the gate than we realized our flight was canceled due to freezing rain and the next flight wasn’t until the morning. I immediately jumped on the internet to research vegan friendly restaurants and stumbled upon vegetarian African soul food!

Soul Vegetarian is a worldwide chain with two locations in Atlanta. When we asked the cab driver to drive us to Ralph David Abernathy he pause and asked us for the address again. We repeated it and he said “Are you sure that is where you want to go?” We were certain we needed some good food to lift our spirits from the debacle of being stuck in Atlanta with no baggage, so we asked him to press on. Apparently he was concerned for our safety. Nonetheless, we arrived to a dining room filled with vinyl booths and servers dressed head to toe in traditional African garb. The menu was entirely vegan and included burger and sandwich options with a choice of fries or onion rings and accompanied by a salad. They offer a full buffet and juice bar equipped with the makings for a mean banana split. Sadly I left without a trace of the menu and nothing of the sort is posted on their site. Although I am leaving you with no details, you better hope to god that wherever your travels take you Soul Vegetarian is nearby.

Tommy O’s – Second Chances

posted on January 7th, 2009 in Vancouver 10 Comments

the lowdown: Tommy O’s Pacific Rim Grill | 4101 SE 192nd Ave., Vancouver, WA 98683 | 360.892.2484 | Website | Lunch, Dinner | Entrees $8 – $14 | ***

Reasonably appetizing Vancouver option.

My 30th birthday is nearing and this year we decided to skip town and head to Montreal for the big celebration, however, I was torn at the thought of turning 30 in isolation from my friends and family. In previous years I have thrown parties where I ended up blistering drunk or hyper-stressed with party details. Either way I spent the next day fraught with regret. With hesitation, I threw myself a birthday party complete with Dove Vivi pizza and a Sweet Pea Baking Mocha Chocolate Cake. The party was a smashing success and I’ve never had so much fun at my own party! Not only have I learned to give myself second chances but I have begun to do the same for others, including restaurants.

Tommy O’s has now embarked on franchise status with a new location having recently debuted in one of the many tired strip malls blanketing Camas, Washington. This new restaurant turned out to be the perfect location for my grandmother and I to meet for our traditional birthday celebration. The decor of this classy brother establishment includes dim lighting, bamboo tables, and Asian inspired flatware. The menu is a step above but the service staff haven’t quite ironed out all the details. There are only two vegan options and I ordered them both, starting with the Tofu Wraps ($8) accompanied with sweet chili sauce and the Tofu Stir Fry ($12). The stir fry arrived very dry forcing me to ask for a serving of sweet chili sauce, but that completed the large dish of fresh vegetables and brown rice. Overall I was happy with the meal and experience and would recommend it to anyone looking for a vegan dish among the baron options in Vancouver.

When Two Bellies Equals One

posted on December 28th, 2008 in Portland 12 Comments

the lowdown: Belly | 3500 NE MLK Blvd., Portland, OR 97212 | 503.249.9763 | Website | Dinner, Brunch (Sunday Only) | Entrees $9 – $18 | *****

Romantic restaurant offering custom vegan fare!

Aside from the snow, Christmas holiday, and new Facebook addiction, last Tuesday was the best day of my life. It is on that day my boyfriend Scott asked me to marry him, on bended knee. I have wanted to marry this man since the moment I met him and after four years it is really going to happen. There are many reasons I love him, but the most astonishing is despite how much each of us has grown over the years, we have grown together, building a strong, cohesive relationship capable of weathering any snow storm or basking in any sunlight. I have no idea what I ever did to deserve such a wonderful thing.

After the proposal we walked through the snow to celebrate at Belly, which occupies the same space as the now defunct Terrior. Belly is owned by a husband and wife who are happy to accommodate special dietary needs. The meticulous decor, dim lighting, and friendly service make celebrating any special occasion at Belly and absolute must! In fact, they asked immediately upon arrival if we were celebrating anything special! We started with a side order of fries ($5), great but a bad idea if you plan to finish your entree! Although there are no vegan dishes on the menu, they created a pasta dish ($14) complete with brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and chanterelle mushrooms, among other fresh ingredients. Finally, just as we were preparing to leave (and of course knowing we were celebrating our anniversary), they presented us with a candlelit vegan apple tart. Whether you are celebrating, curious, or plain hungry, Belly is fantastic!

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