Nashvegan

A not-very-definitive guide to eating (and living) as a vegan in Nashville.

Flyte February 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 10:56 am
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Amuse Bouche

A friend and I visited Flyte World Dining and Wine during Restaurant Week.  Last September.  Hey, sometimes it takes me a long time to write about things.  We specifically chose Flyte because their Restaurant Week menu said “vegan options available.”  Vegan options available?!  Sign me up!

Besides having great food, Flyte is a beautiful restaurant space.  The lighting is not so dim that you can’t see but not so bright that it doesn’t feel cozy.  Exposed beams and pipes lend an industrial feel, and striking artwork adorns the walls.  Breaks in the warmly hued walls reveal bare bricks.  Seriously, this place is lovely.

After being seated, we informed our server that we were both vegan.  The server was very knowledgeable and knew exactly which menu items were appropriate for us.  We were both surprised when, after ordering, we received the amuse bouche pictured above.  I mean, really, vegan amuse bouche?  Clearly, this place was class all the way.

Salad

What you see here is a simple but very delicious salad.  Mixed baby greens and tomatoes are served on top of a pile of pesto.  Vegan pesto.  Pesto sans cheese.  I could hardly believe my good fortune.  A few pine nuts are hanging out on the margins for good measure.  Also, in the top right?  Yeah, I have three glasses of wine.  That’s because Flyte is known for its flights (get it? get it?).  You can choose from all sorts of flights of three, like French whites, Spanish reds … you get the idea.  I’m a sucker for any kind of “sampler” so I was sold on the idea.

Fried Stuffed Poblano Pepper
Baked Stuffed Poblano Pepper

My dining companion and I ordered exactly the same thing for all courses.  Up until this point, our food had been identical.  When our entrees came out, they were slightly different.  Our server informed us that the chef had prepared our entrees differently so we would have some variety.  We both had the stuffed poblano pepper, but one was baked and one was fried.  They don’t look so different in the photos, but they certainly had different flavors and textures.  I was presented with the baked version and my friend was presented with the fried version, but we ended up swapping.

What we have here is a giant poblano pepper stuffed with tasty things that you can’t really see (corn, beans, spices, goodness) served atop a grain whose name I cannot recall, delicious sauce, and a vegetable medley of zucchini, squash, and bell pepper.  This is an entree that was creative, bursting with flavor, and more than filling.  This is an entree that features vegetables as the main event and not just a side.  This, my faithful readers, is the gold standard in vegan fine dining.

Sorbet “Flyte”

Dessert was, appropriately, a “Flyte” of three refreshing sorbets.  Berry, blood orange, and lemon sorbets brought a refreshing end to the meal.  The blood orange was my favorite.

As soon as money starts growing on trees, I’ll be back to Flyte.  I’m exaggerating a bit about the price–it’s not exorbitantly expensive, but it’s a little out of my grad-student I-eat-a-lot-of-peanut-butter price range.  The next time Restaurant Week rolls around, you should absolutely make reservations for a $30.11 prix fixe world of awesome.  And, you know, think about treating your favorite vegan blogger.

Flyte World Dining and Wine

718 Division Street

Nashville, TN 37203

615.255.6200

Website

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Jackson’s Bar & Bistro February 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 10:00 am
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House Salad

A quick glance at the Jackson’s menu doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of vegan option.  Never fear, though!  There are treasures within, and you will be fed.

When I sat down here I was skeptical, so I ordered the shot of the day as a starter.  It was tasty, and I was ready to grill my server about the vegan-ness of various menu items.  Thankfully, my server was pretty knowledgeable, though he did have to go back to the kitchen and ask the chefs a few questions.

Taking a look at their menu online today, I’m not sure that they still serve the exact salad pictured above, which is a shame, because it was really good. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, and chickpeas topped with champagne vinaigrette?  I’m on board!  Their menu now features a “shredded salad” instead which doesn’t sound as exciting: chopped cabbage, carrots, and red onion with the same dressing.  Boring, right?  Yeah.  And it doesn’t have any protein.  Bummer.  Maybe if we all ask nicely we can get the delicious chickpea salad back.

Rosso Marinara

That’s right, it’s a bowl of penne with marinara sauce.  Is it fancy?  No.  Does it hit the spot, especially after all those shots of the day?  Yes.  This is actually really really good for basically just being wheat and tomatoes.  The sauce is surprisingly sweet (in a good way), and it’s very flavorful.  I would absolutely order this again.  Be sure to tell your server you don’t want any cheese on top.  Plus, the hunk of bread that comes with it is vegan, which surprised me.  This portion is a lot larger than it looks, because the bowl is deep–I had leftovers, which meant I had the pleasure of eating this twice.

The Jackson’s menu is pretty inspired if you’re not a vegan.  We vegans have few choices at Jackson’s; there is only one other menu item other than what I’ve described above, the Capri vegetable wrap sans cheese, that’s suitable for people like us.  Still, I’ll probably be back to Jackson’s, if only for the great happy hour specials, and I’m sure I’ll find myself digging into a bowl of Russo Marinara again soon.

 

Jackson’s Bar & Bistro

1800 21st Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37212

615.385.9968

Website

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Zumi Sushi January 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 9:24 pm
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Vegan Soba Bowl

Zumi Sushi is one of those restaurants that I kept meaning to go to and always forgetting about.  I’m glad that I finally made it, because it’s good.

Zumi Sushi is relatively new to town (opened in May 2009) and is located across from the Belcourt in what’s becoming a seriously interesting strip of restaurants.  The food is affordable and very tasty, and it’s also beautifully prepared.  The restaurant also features great happy hour specials that you should seriously consider enjoying on their enormous front and back patios once it warms up.

House Salad

I began my meal with the House Salad, which is basically just romaine lettuce and shredded carrots, but it’s topped with house-made carrot-ginger dressing.  A version of this salad is served at pretty much every pan-Asian restaurant, and this one holds its own.  The dressing is really flavorful, and I liked it a lot, but it’s still just a bowl of lettuce and carrots.

For my entree I (obviously) ordered the Vegan Soba Bowl, pictured above.  I mean, come on, how could I not order the one menu item with “Vegan” in the name?  The Vegan Soba Bowl is a bowl of buckwheat soba noodles cooked with tofu, veggies (broccoli, bell peppers, and snow peas make an appearance) in a vegan dashi broth.  This bowl basically punched me in the face with flavor.  It was surprisingly spicy, with a lot of crushed red pepper.  The soba noodles really hold up well with the veggies and tofu.  The portion size was generous but not enormous – basically, it was the Goldilocks of noodle bowls.  The grilled lemons on top were an awesome addition.

On a separate visit (sans camera, sorry, blog fail) I knew I wanted to try the sushi.  The Green Sesame roll was calling her sweet siren song of deliciousness, and I succumbed.  The Green Sesame roll features asparagus, carrots, cucumber, kanpyo, inari tofu, and peanuts, all rolled in thin strips of avocado.  It sounds good, right?  It is good.  And it’s eight pieces.  For $5.50.  OH YEAH.

I will absolutely be back to Zumi Sushi.  There are more things on the menu I want to try!  Can you believe I haven’t had the garlic-soy edamame?  Me neither.  I will leave you with this photo that shows how mature I am:

Zumi Sushi Japanese Kitchen

2119 Belcourt Avenue

Nashville, TN 37212

615.383.5770

Website

 

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Germantown Cafe February 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 9:42 am
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House Salad

I went to Germantown Cafe during Nashville Originals Restaurant Week.  During Restaurant Week, Nashville Originals member restaurants offer specially priced prix fixe menus and, typically, specialty menu items.  Germantown Cafe (and Allium for that matter) simply offered their regular menus at a fixed price that included a salad, entree, and dessert.

I began my meal with the house salad topped with either Raspberry or Balsamic Vinaigrette, I can’t recall.  I should really start carrying a notepad.  Anyway, I do remember that the salad was pretty good as far as house salads go.  It was just greens, red cabbage, and carrots, but the dressing was really tasty and everything tasted really fresh.  I also had the house Pinot Grigio which I liked, but I’m no wine expert so who knows.  I liked it and that’s what counts, right? Also, they brought out a bread dish but the bread wasn’t vegan so I didn’t get to partake.

Green Plate

For my entree I ordered the Green Plate, veganized.  Normally, everything on this plate is coated in a fine layer of butter.  Gross, right?  So, that was nixed.  Next, they subbed out the Butternut Squash Gratin for brown rice–downgrade.  So what was on my green plate, you ask?  Garlic-marinated portobello mushroom, steamed spinach, steamed asparagus, brown rice, and that little side dish of sauce.  The spinach was bland, period.  It seemed that it was completely unseasoned.  I absolutely love asparagus so I was pleased, but at the same time it could have been seasoned in some way, or at least roasted to bring out the flavors.  The rice (which you can’t see because it’s underneath the asparagus) tasted like rice–also unseasoned.  The mushroom was AMAZING.  Seriously, I ate every last bite.  It was so very very delicious.  The texture and flavor were perfect.  Also, I don’t know what that little sauce was, but it really blew me away.  It was kind of overwhelming on the spinach, but it really took the asparagus and mushroom to the next level.  I want to have a bottle of it in my fridge at all times.

Fruit Bowl

For dessert I had … this bowl of fruit.  Not that there’s anything wrong with a bowl of fruit.  The fruit was good and all.  And it’s not like I was expecting this restaurant to have some kind of phenomenal vegan dessert, especially since I didn’t request one in advance.  It’s just, you know, fruit.

The verdict?  I don’t know that I will be back at Germantown Cafe unless their menu changes.  My salad was good but standard.  My green plate was mostly flavorless except for the mushroom cap and sauce, and the substitute of plain brown rice for butternut squash was kind of a disappointment.  My dessert was fruit.  Worst of all, I was still kind of hungry when I was done with all this food.  There was no solid protein source in the meal.  Germantown Cafe has a really creative menu, and my dining companion was thrilled with an order of New Orleans Shrimp.  The restaurant has a lot of vegan potential, it just needs to be more fully realized–the chefs are clearly skilled.  Also, I don’t think I saved any money by going during Restaurant Week–I think I would have actually spent less if I ordered my items a la carte.

The best thing about Germantown Cafe was not my food but the decor, view, and ambiance.  The place is really beautifully designed, and we got a table by the window with a fantastic view of the downtown skyline.  It really is a good date spot.  Just don’t expect your dish to wow you.

Germantown Cafe

1200 Fifth Avenue North

Nashville, TN 37208

615.242.3226

Website

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Bound’ry November 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 2:16 pm
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I love Bound’ry, even though this was only my second-ever full meal there.  I hang out at the bar every now and then, and they can always scrounge up some kind of vegan appetizer for me.  Plus, the bar has this awesome chilled section that you can set your drink on so it will never get warm.  I like to leave my handprint in the frost, but I digress.  I love the creativity of the menu, the willingness of the kitchen staff to make me special food that’s not even on the menu, the kindness of the servers and bartenders, and the awesome decor.  I’ve never had a bad experience at Bound’ry.

My birthday was a couple of weeks ago and I decided to have my birthday dinner at Bound’ry, partially because that’s where I had it last year (while still lacto/ovo) and partially due to The Traveling Vegetarian’s encouraging post about how vegan-friendly they can be. I made my reservation a week in advance and indicating that I was vegan. They assured me I could be accommodated, and boy was I ever accommodated.

Bound'ry - salad

Bound'ry Salad

My server, who had celiac’s, and whose business partner was vegan, was awesome.  He offered to whip me up a vegan appetizer but I declined since my dining companions were not getting any.  I did take him up on ordering a salad, seen above.  The Bound’ry Salad consists of Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, crispy black eyed peas, and usually ham–remove the ham and it’s vegan.  I chose balsamic vinaigrette as my dressing.  This salad was great for being so simple.  The dressing was just right (not too thick but not too runny/oily), and the crispy black eyed peas were an awesome addition.  There was also an elaborate bread arrangement that I forgot to photograph, all of which was vegan.  It was served with several different butters, but my server brought me out a dish of olive oil for dipping.

Bound'ry - entree

My Tofu Entree

My entree was not on the menu.  In fact, there was nothing with tofu on the menu.  When my server took my order for the entree, I told him I thought I would be having the Bound’ry Falafel since it was the only vegan thing on the menu.  He stopped me and told me I could have basically whatever I wanted.  This was too much choice for me, and while I stared at him dumbstruck, he asked if I would like something with tofu.  I told him that would be perfect and off he went.  I had absolutely no idea what would come out, and one of my dining companions expressed worry based on his experiences with chefs who do not know how to work with tofu properly.  Was he ever proven wrong!

This dish was AMAZING.  Seriously.  It blew me away.  I’m not really sure what it was served with, beyond being able to identify the tofu (obviously), black eyed peas (not crispy this time), carrots, and what I think were summer squash and zucchini.  I have no idea what that orange sauce was but it was delicious.  Everything was incredibly flavorful, and that orange sauce really tied it all together.  The tofu was the perfect texture–nice and firm on the outside and slightly softer on the inside.  This dish was so filling that I could not even eat it all, which is saying something, because I can eat a lot.  It also reheated well a few days later.

Bound'ry - falafel

Bound'ry Falafel

One of my dining companions ordered the Bound’ry Falafel, so I had him snap a photo.  It’s totally vegan and served with hummus, tabouli, naan, cherry tomatoes, and yummy roasted baby eggplant.  This is your vegan standby on the Bound’ry menu and the most affordable entree.  I didn’t eat any of this (too full from my own food) but I’ve had the hummus at the bar several times and can testify to its awesomeness.  Honestly, I’ve never had any food at Bound’ry that was less than stellar and I’m sure this was no exception, and my friend who was eating it said it was great.

Bound'ry - dessert

Dessert

Unfortunately, I was not able to snap a stellar photo of the dessert, but it was my birthday, get off my back.  Bound’ry does not typically offer vegan dessert.  I made my reservation a week in advance and spoke with Natalie, a manager, who told me she would discuss my vegan dessert request with the pastry chef and get back to me.  She called me back a couple of days later saying they could accommodate me and asking if I liked pumpkin.  I responded in the affirmative and that was it.

My dessert came out with candles.  I don’t really know what it was, but it was some kind of pumpkin custard-like substance.  It tasted a lot like pumpkin pie filling, and it had nuts (pecans?) in it.  There were also these little scone-like biscuit things, and fresh strawberries, and little chocolate sticks.  I was so excited to have a vegan dessert, because this is the first real vegan dessert I’ve had in this city (I don’t count cookies as dessert–cookies are not a dessert, they are a snack).

In sum, I love Bound’ry.  They have an awesome beer selection and cocktail menu, the food is phenomenal, and the service is impeccable.  It’s pricey, but totally worth it for that special occasion.  They definitely made my birthday memorable.  And I bet I’ll be back next year!

Bound’ry

911 20th Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37212

615.321.3043

Website

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Hungry Tiger Too October 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 11:25 am
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Macaroni & Cheese with Caesar Salad

Macaroni & Cheese with Caesar Salad

This is my second and last Portland post.  I didn’t have as many opportunities to eat in restaurants as I would have liked because I was so busy at the conference.  But the two restaurant meals I did get to enjoy were amazing–my trip to Hungry Tiger Too was no exception.  Hungry Tiger Too has a bar area and a dining area, but my host and I sat at the bar.  They have two separate menus: one vegan menu and one “classic” menu.

Since Hungry Tiger is known for its mac & cheese, I knew that was what I would be having.  It comes in small and large, and if I had gotten the large I think I might have fainted, since I couldn’t even finish the small.  The cheese sauce kind of tasted like chicken stock, which was weird, and while I’ve made better vegan cheese sauce in my own kitchen, it was awesome to order this in a restaurant.  The noodles were a little softer than I would have liked, and the cheese sauce a little thinner.  It was topped with delicious breadcrumbs.  The real standout of this meal was the salad: this Caesar was really reminiscent of the Caesar salads I used to eat growing up, when that was the only type of salad I found palatable (wow, that was a long time ago).  The dressing was absolutely fantastic.

I hope I get the opportunity to return to Hungry Tiger.  They have vegan corn dogs, and I would love to try one of those.  Our bartender/server was fantastic and helped to make menu and beer recommendations.  If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I would have had the Caesar, which I loved so much.  The place has an awesome neighborhood vibe and great beer specials.  Oh man, I hope I get to go back soon!

Hungry Tiger Too

207 SE 12th Ave

Portland, OR 97214

503.238.4321

Hungry Tiger doesn’t have a wesbite, but it does have a MySpace

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Proper Eats Cafe October 26, 2009

Spicy Black Bean Quesadilla

Spicy Black Bean Quesadilla

I had an AWESOME time in Portland, Oregon.  It is basically like vegan mecca.  I can only imagine what it would be like to live in such a city, where fantastic vegan fare can be had at nearly every establishment, and nearly every establishment knows exactly what “vegan” means.  I stayed in North Portland (NoPo) while I was in town, and as soon as I got in from the airport and dropped off my luggage my host and I popped over to Proper Eats Cafe for my first Portland meal.  Proper Eats is a natural foods store and cafe, with produce and some groceries in the front and a dining area in the back.  I was famished from spending six hours on and off various airplanes (but Southwest has some yummy vegan in-flight snacks!), and I had to restrain myself from ordering basically everything on the menu.

We started with the above Spicy Black Bean Quesadilla.  It was stuffed with vegan cheese, spinach, and black beans.  It was spicy, too!  The salsa served on the side was incredibly fresh-tasting and helped to cut through the spice a bit.  As you can see from the photo, it was topped with corn, red onion, and pumpkin seeds.  Talk about awesome!  When was the last time you had a vegan quesadilla?  I don’t think I ever had one until this moment.  I thought it was totally delicious, but it was kind of hard to eat–looking back, I should have used a fork and knife.  I ended up getting it all over myself.

Hazelnut-Arugula Penne Bake and Side Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Hazelnut-Arugula Penne Bake and Side Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

For my entree I ordered the day’s special: Hazelnut-Arugula Penne Bake and Side Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Wow, that’s a mouthful!  Seriously, this was SO. EFFING. GOOD. and I am still reminiscing about it.  I wish I could get this at a restaurant in Nashville.  I mean, I could probably cook something similar from scratch but who wants to go to all that trouble?  The pasta was just the right texture.  The cheese topping didn’t exactly melt right, but the flavor was great.  The pesto was divine.  The salad itself was pretty standard (spring mix, broccoli, carrots), and the dressing complimented it nicely.

Sesame Peanut Noodles

Sesame Peanut Noodles

My host, an omnivore, had the Sesame Peanut Noodles.  He loved it.  The noodles are cooked in a peanut sauce and served warm with ginger lime tofu, all over a bed of spinach and garnished with asian slaw, broccoli and lime.  You can see the little lime wedge in the photo, just waiting to be squeezed over the whole thing.  He let me eat a little bit of it and it was even better than it looks in the picture.  The noodles were perfect.  The tofu was amazing.  This whole dish was well-executed, well-presented, and well-made.  It also kept well and made for an excellent second, reheated meal.

If I lived in Portland, I would dine at Proper Eats Cafe all the time.  The menu is varied, covering a lot of different types of food, and their daily specials are always interesting.  They are almost entirely vegan (they offer a choice of a few dairy-based condiments), and every dish can be prepared vegan.  If you have the good fortune to make it there, be sure to check the bakery case on your way out: I got a vegan chocolate truffle.  Sorry, I didn’t take a photo.  I know that next time I’m in PDX, I’ll be stopping by.

Proper Eats Cafe

8638 N. Lombard Ave.

Portland, OR 97203

503.445.2007

Website

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