Reviews written by frippy

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Registered on Mar 1 06

The Grasslands Cafe & Bakery in Sonoita, Arizona
May 15 07

rating star

This restaurant can have odd hours and it's best to call ahead before making the drive out to Sonoita, but it's worth visiting if you're out that way, in Tucson or Sierra Vista. Grasslands is in a scenic part of Arizona's wine country, with gentle rolling hills, and a view of mountains. The food is delicious -- I used to eat here occasionally when I lived in Sierra Vista and it was well worth the drive. I always had a hard time deciding between the apricot iced tea, the honey lemonade, or an iced mocha -- they were all very good drinks. My favorite dishes were the spinach quiche and the sauerkraut sandwich (served on excellent dark rye), though I often tried their specials as well. Of course, one would be remiss leaving without a dessert -- bear claws and Johnny Depps (a brownie named after the actor, who apparently loved them when he was visiting the area while shooting a film) are favorites among my family members. And there is a vast array of interesting homemade chutneys, salsas, and jams -- so you can take some Grasslands home with you. The cuisine is very dairy and egg heavy, however, so I'm not sure vegans (I am one now) would be as delighted with the options, but if you are vegetarian, it's a charming restaurant with rich food, local art, and local wine, as well as a great place to bring your meat-eating friends and family. I'm the only vegetarian in my family and have since left the area, but my father still drives 30 miles out to Sonoita to eat at Grasslands nearly once a month.

Chicago Diner in Chicago, Illinois
May 15 07

rating star

I made a pilgrimage here while visiting Chicago. I had a hard time with the menu -- not reading it, but making a selection. After being vegan and dining in omni restaurants, it can be intimidating to read an entire menu and know that you can get anything on it made vegan.

I went with the reuben and was very pleased with my decision. Not only was my seitan reuben delicious, with sauerkraut, melted vegan mozarella, and vegan thousand island dressing, but it was generously sized and overflowing. I had to cut it into thirds rather than halves in order to eat it. I had been thinking that I should have ordered an appetizer, but I was stuffed by my sandwich and breakfast potatoes and a mocha milkshake. The cakes looked amazing, but I haven't had a milkshake since going vegan or, rather, the experience of having a milkshake brought to your diner table in a sundae glass. Again, another tough call but I don't regret my decision. And I bought a double chocolate monster cookie for the road, though, which I highly recommend doing.

Earwax Cafe in Chicago, Illinois
May 15 07

rating star

I admit to being easily swayed to falling in love with a restaurant that offers vegan desserts. Earwax Cafe had the best vegan cake I have ever eaten. Not only did Earwax offer a vegan cake, they had at least three options -- I didn't listen to them all before I perked up at one description and said, 'I'll take that!" It is sadly too common to get a dry, crumbly vegan cake at some places, so I take cake seriously.

My dinner was also delicious. I had the jerk seitan sandwich, which was served on a very nice, flaky French roll with crispy, spicy shoestring fries. If I hadn't been saving room for dessert, I could have gladly eaten more of those fries.

The circus sideshow style atmosphere is definitely geared towards an artsy, typically younger crowd, although obviously anyone can enjoy the food. But your grandmother may not approve of some of the artwork on the walls. Just a caveat. Otherwise, I hope I can come back to Chicago and Earwax Cafe soon. The staff was friendly, ordering vegan food was very easy, and did I mention THE CAKE?

Eternity Vegetarian Deli in Saint Louis, Missouri
May 16 07

rating star

Everything at Eternity is vegan and I always emerge from here feeling full. I usually get the hot food selections for the day -- you get one main dish and two sides. The "cheese"-topped casseroles are usually pretty good comfort food, as is the macaroni and "cheese." The options for sides change frequently -- I find I can't go wrong with collard greens and sweet potatoes. The curry broccoli salad is incredible -- I sometimes buy a small tub to take to work the next day.

There's a good sandwich selection, but if you're in a pinch for time, you might be better off getting a hot bar or cold salad selection. That having been said, the protein roast gyro is excellent (I hope you like garlic) and probably my favorite sandwich, though I also like the tofu fillet very much. I do think the fries are a little overcooked sometimes. If you can, I strongly recommend getting a side salad (like the curry broccoli) with a sandwich.

Eternity sometimes offers packaged desserts, like individual blueberry cheesecakes or once they had some vegan donuts, but the dessert really worth trying is the vegan soft-serve ice cream, which is made in the store. (Sometimes the soft serve machine isn't cooperating.) There are also fruit smoothies and one very yummy smoothie (the name of which eludes me) made with spirulina and soft-serve ice cream. It's a little green but wonderfully vanilla-y and creamy.

There's not really much atmosphere here -- when the weather's nice, I like to sit on the patio. Eternity is located on a pleasant little strip in the Central West End. Inside, near the front window, there are free vegan materials, like brochures and stickers, available.

Food at all-vegan places usually does cost more, so I'm okay with the prices. The service can be slow -- which can be hard if you're eating on a lunch break from work -- and sometimes I get really sad when I find out there's no ice cream that day, but there's always something good to be enjoyed.

The Shangri-La Diner in Saint Louis, Missouri
May 15 07

rating star

I don't know what happened. Perhaps the place is too popular (which is good for them, I think) and service has been slow as a result, but it can take a long time to get something -- like when you get your vegan french toast but no syrup and you want syrup, you may need to be very patient. Very, very patient.

But mostly I don't know what happened to their once-incredible tofu scramble. The last few times I have had it, it has been an unseasoned mess of watery, crumbled, silken tofu that doesn't even look like it's spent time over a flame. And lately their vegan baked goods are hard to eat without liquids to wash them down.

I really liked The Shangri-La Diner (I even originally wrote this entry) and want there to be more vegan dining options in Saint Louis like those offered at The Shangri-La Diner and I've had a good time taking guests there, but something has gone awry with the scrambled tofu and it breaks my heart. I have had friends express the same opinion and they were told that the tofu was changed to be more like eggs. But it is not more like eggs, it is more like what hesitant omnis think of when you talk about scrambled tofu. Bland and watery. There's really nowhere else I know of to get a plate of scrambled tofu brought to your table in this city. Pity.