Nashvegan

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

Noodles & Company February 24, 2013

Noodles!

Noodles!

Full disclosure: Noodles & Company was kind enough to send me some coupons for free noodles so that I could check them out.  The free-ness of these noodles in no way influenced my opinion regarding their deliciousness.

Noodles & Company is one of those magical and rare chain restaurants that actually caters to vegans.  It’s like looking at horses off the side of the highway and spotting a unicorn.  For one thing, you can add organic tofu to any dish at Noodles & Company.  And I’m not talking about sad, flavorless, little white cubes.  I’m talking about well-seasoned cubes that are cooked juuuuust right in a way I can never seem to replicate at home.  Also, since all dishes are made to order, a lot of things that seem like they wouldn’t be vegan (say, a dish with a combo red-and-cream sauce) can be altered on the spot (omitting the cream and just using red sauce).  And the vegetables!  Such a bounty!  Let’s take a look at what I ordered on this trip.

The Noodles & Company menu is divided into geographical regions: American, Asian, and Mediterranean.  The American section of the menu is not your friend, but between the other two sections there are seven vegan entrees along with two sides.  How do I know what’s vegan, you ask.  Because they freaking tell you.  The list of vegan dishes can be found here, on the bottom right.  The only thing better than an all-vegan restaurant is a restaurant that just straight up tells you what’s vegan.  No asking confused/uninformed waitstaff, no having to check with the kitchen, no worrying about undisclosed animal ingredients … just the simplicity of ordering food.  Love it.

Japanese Pan Noodles

Japanese Pan Noodles

I got one Asian dish, Japanese Pan Noodles with tofu, and one Mediterranean dish, Pasta Fresca.  The Japanese Pan Noodles feature caramelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce with broccoli, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms, topped with bean sprouts, black sesame seeds, and cilantro.  When they say “caramelized udon noodles” they aren’t kidding.  These noodles were absolute perfection.  I think we should caramelize more things.  The veggies were super fresh and well-prepared – just the right amount of crispness.  I raved about the tofu above but let me reiterate: delicious.  As an added bonus, bottles of the wonder sauce sriracha are scattered about the dining room.  For those of you who, like me, have considered bringing your own personal bottle of the rooster with you everywhere, there’s no need at Noodles & Company.

Pasta Fresca

Moving on to the Mediterranean section of the menu, I didn’t have particularly high expectations for Pasta Fresca.  A simple dish of penne with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, white wine, roasted garlic, red onion, and spinach, I thought it would be tasty but nothing to rave over.  I was wrong.  This dish is FULL of flavor, mostly thanks to the balsamic vinegar.  I basically couldn’t stop shoving this into my mouth.  My only complaint is that I wish there had been a bit more spinach.

The takeaway?  I love Noodles & Company.  The Green Hills location is close to my work and their online ordering system is my new best friend.  Did you know that when you order online you can add as many vegetables to your dish as you want?  The food here is delicious, filling, and infinitely customizable.  One of my favorite dishes here (not pictured) is the Cucumber Tomato Salad, and now I never eat here without getting a side of it.  Oh and they have one of those freestyle Coke machines.  At Noodles & Company, get exactly what you want, and none of what you don’t.

Noodles & Company

Multiple locations – Green Hills, Cool Springs

Website

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Fido March 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 2:01 pm
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Veggie Scramble with Tofu

Who doesn’t love brunch?  I know I do.  But aren’t you tired of going out to a brunch spot with your friends and choosing from oatmeal (if that), dry toast (if that), and fresh fruit?  I have the solution to your woes and it’s Fido.  If you haven’t been to Fido yet, you’re missing out.  This post is going to focus on brunch, but it’s awesome any time of day–their veggie burger is one of the best in town, I’m serious.  They also have an awesome vegan cookies and muffins, as well as stellar coffee.  Plus, they serve breakfast all day, so you can get your tofu scramble on anytime.

As you can see above, I had the Veggie Scramble with Tofu, sans cheese.  Tofu can be exchanged for eggs in all of the brunch dishes, so a lot of them are easily vegan-ized.  The Veggie Scramble includes tofu, baby spinach, tomatoes, and roasted onions, and man is it delicious!  Seriously, it’s some of the best food I’ve ever had.  It comes with hashbrowns (which are more like home fries than traditional hashbrowns) and toast with jam.  There’s also a cup of salsa on the side, for making everything even more amazing.  The veggie sausage is, unfortunately, not vegan, so don’t add a side of that to your meal.  While not pictured, my dining companions and I also enjoyed some mimosas, which you make yourself–they give you the sparkling wine and orange juice and you combine away!

Soy Latte and Vegan Pumpkin Oat Cookie

I’m kind of a coffee snob.  I mean, I’ll drink Starbucks because it’s, well, everywhere, but I don’t think it’s all that good.  That being said, Bongo Java coffee is A-MAZ-ING.  The only place I’ve ever had better is in Portland, OR.  My favorite variety is Hair of the Dog, which smells better than any other coffee I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying.  Also, the Vegan Pumpkin Oat Cookie: YOU MUST EAT ONE.  Like, right now.  I cannot get enough of these things.  They’re soft almost like cake, and so moist and flavorful.  They also have an amazing vegan hot chocolate cookie that’s spicy.  And there are muffins, and other vegan baked goods.

Bottom line: if you haven’t been to Fido before, you’re doing a poor job of being a vegan in Nashville.  Go there immediately and get a tofu scramble, or a black bean burger, or some hummus, or a cookie, or a coffee, or all of those things.  Do it now.

Fido

1812 21st Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37212

615.777.FIDO

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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