Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cassie's Got a New Look

I gave into the new templates in blogger. I know I risk looking like every other food related blog, but I think it's nice! What do you think?

It was my birthday last week, and I was treated to some great food. I was amazed that I could be so well fed at The Keg all the while being vegetarian. I had their smoked mac and cheese (chipotle, baby) and super side of mushrooms, asparagus and sweet potato fries. I love that sweet potato is becoming a popular restaurant favorite!

My beau took me out to Chu Chai. I love their faux duck, and the fake shrimp was amazing. Although not inexpensive, a table d'hôte at $35 per person for two, and a decent wine selection, I loved it. Even the satay faux chicken was out of this world. The sticky rice pudding at the end, however, was nasty.

Tonight, we're going to Aux Vivres with my brother and his wife. They've never been. I'm totally excited that they'll get to try one of my favorite Montreal restaurants.

By the way, since I've been a bit lazy on the recipes, and been eating out far too much, here's a couple of links to some nice recipes I literally Stumbled Upon. Enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Chicago Diner - Vegetarian Restaurant Review

In the heart of the Chicago gay village, this little restaurant touts itself as the best vegetarian restaurant in town. The menu doesn't disappoint, with their meatless variations on classic Cuban, Mexican, and diner comfort food dishes, like their half pipe sandwich.

The tiny diner style spot, certainly lives up to its name with the bright neon sign at the back of the restaurant.The tables and chairs are closely arranged together, and there's a row of booths on both sides of the restaurant. You can see the very busy kitchen, bustling away on orders. Sorry for the crappy picture!

When we got there at 7:00, we were informed of a 30 minute wait. We wandered over to the Kafka Wines, boasting a selection of over 250 wines under $15. I picked up a sparkling Shiraz (until recently, I didn't know sparking wines came in the red variety! I'll let you know if it's any good).

As soon as we came back, we were seated and served by a quirky and lovely waitress that took the time to recommend a good wine for our selection. The menu was fun, with a communist chicken on the cover. =) I like little details like that! There also was a table pop up stand promoting their Rabble Rouser coffee. Since it was already late in the day, I didn't sample the coffee, but I'm sure it was great if it's anything like the rest of the menu.

For an appetizer, my colleague and friend from Local Gourmet and I shared Black Bean Taquitos, served with salsa, guacamole and a type of creamy vegan ranch sauce? We were so hungry, I forgot to take a picture when the plate was served... So here's the one Taquito left (shown below)...!

As a main course, my colleague ordered Avocado Tostadas (picture below, dish at the top) on a bed of quinoa, and I had Tacos Al Pastor with faux pork. O.M.G! Delicious!!!!! I hadn't had any faux pork other than faux bacon and this, my friends, was da bomb! Even though I was full at the second taco, I ate the third one... *blush* SO GOOD! Even the vegan sour cream was fresh and delicious.

Even after being full, the waitress brought over the desert menu and I spotted the raw pineapple cashew "cheese" cake. I had to try it. It unfortunately won, but not before waging a tasty battle. :)

The Chicago Diner
3411 N Halsted,
Chicago, IL, 60657

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Russian Tea Time - Chicago Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant Review

Cassie's on the road again, this time in Chicago, Illinois and had the chance to taste some fine vegetarian fare in a very vegetarian friendly restaurant called Russian Tea Time on Adams. 90% of their menu is vegetarian and is quite delicious. The dishes are heavily perfumed in cumin, garlic and cinnamon.

Russian Tea Time Restaurant
77 East Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 360-0000

My colleague and I shared their vegetarian meal for 2, at $38 (pricey for what you get) and we got two platters of assorted choices, almost mezze or tapas style.

We had Baltika beer, brewed in Russia, very refreshing. Loved it and the pint sized bottle was fun. The meal also came with the best pumpernikel bread I've ever eaten. The first plate (left) had spinach and feta cheese stuffed mushrooms, garlicky hummus, tabouli, perogies, carrot salad, beet "caviar" and a beet and chickpea salad with balkan yogurt and tzaziki style sauce.

The perogies were soggy, symptom of being over boiled and bland. I'm difficult when it comes to perogies, I like them boiled to being al dente and then pan fried for a nice crust. The hummus and tabouli were ok, nothing special but loaded with garlic, so vampires, beware! The stuffed mushroom caps were nice, but a bit underseasoned. I'm tempted to try to replicate these at home. The carrot salad was nice with a touch of caraway. The beet caviar was really well done, great texture and taste. The beet salad too was nice and light.

The second course (right) was far more flavorful and interesting. We were served a stuffed pepper with vegetables and chickpeas, stuffed eggplant in a tomato sauce, a stuffed tomato, roasted kasha, rice and a chickpea and onion salad. All of these made the meal. My personal favorite was the kasha with the eggplant.

I'd go back. Now I'm really excited at the thought of going to what is called Chicago's best vegetarian restaurant.... The Chicago Diner. Stay tuned for my review!