Herbivoracious

I should get paid to write blog titles.

Twas a rainy night and A and I had one final dinner before she moves to Russia indefinitely. The original intent was to try Cha Ya (you have no idea how excited I was at the prospect of finally blogging about "vegan sushi") but it's closed all month for renovations. Luckily, Herbivore was down the street and always a nice backup...or is it?

Finding a public bathroom on Shattuck Ave. that doesn't remind me of the one in Trainspotting is challenging, but Herbivore's is possibly the nicest there is. Therefore I took photo documentation.

The ambiance is fairly straightforward modern. Maybe I have spent so long in other filthy, dark restaurants on this street that I really appreciated the airiness in here. Is it wrong of me to describe it as very "socal"?

Before our main entree was ready, our cute waitress brought us the ubiquitous side salad. Lightly dressed, gingery and slightly creamy. I always enjoy this.

Three years ago, my friend had moussaka at a very authentic Greek restaurant in Chicago and I was super curious. Finally, I could try the vegan version (~10) with alternating layers of eggplant and potato, stuffed with soy protein, tofu ricotta, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and spinach all bathed in marinara.

I loved the crostini with a hint of garlic olive oil on the side, dipped in marinara. Unfortunately, the moussaka was not what I expected. The potatoes were a little undercooked (but maybe some people like a little crunch). Maybe this is culinary blasphemy but I was expecting something like mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes with marinara...why don't people eat this?! I am going to try it one day and make a fortune. It was dull dish all around, though plenty salty. Since there weren't enough herbs or standout flavors, I would've loved to sprinkle on some chili flakes, had it been available. Sometimes I love Herbivore for the extensive menu, but the trade off is that there are no Super Special dishes to wow you.

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Mission: Delicious

Last weekend S and I went to scope out neighborhoods in Oakland and SF for our move this Fall. After a quaint quiet walk around Lake Merritt, we headed to an open house in the Mission.

This area combines the perfect amount of affordable housing, delicious restaurants, literary/art culture, creative youth, Hispanic families, sun-drenched parks, thrift shops, and catholic churches. And 2 for 1 avocados. We happened across a juice bar with homemade kombucha and I thought I'd try something other then the bottled kind for once.

The Hangover - half young coconut water, half kombucha. I bought this mostly to feel healthy after a carby breakfast - the kind of health you can only get from a disgusting lukewarm $4 beverage. Clearly, I should stick to the commercial stuff if I ever need to scratch the 'bucha itch again (I don't see that happening too often). Not to be gross, but it tasted similar to what I imagine urine to taste - bland and warm but with a slight fermented kick. Next time, I'm drinking coconut water and 'bucha separately. Poor S - this is around the time she started getting a stomach ache from some probiotic hummus(?)

After the open house (we weren't seriously looking since it's too early - just getting a feel of things) I carried a limping S to Herbivore. As a well-established chain in this area, it's a convenient and reliable place to get your greens on.

I always have so much trouble choosing off their massive menu though! This veggie ceviche (7) had lime-marinated oyster mushrooms, tofu, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro and jalapeño peppers, served with toasted crostini. Everyone who worked here was lovely and made my food into art! An avocado man...boy they sure know the way to this girl's heart. I haven't had real ceviche before, but this dish was exactly what I'd been craving that day - fresh, bright, and still packed with fat/protein. I'm not a huge lemon/lime dressing fan, so the strong acidity was the only reason I won't get this one again - mostly because I want to try everything else first! The crostini doesn't look like much but it was chewy crusty carb-heaven.

S likes their Marinated Tofu sandwich so much she has never gotten anything else here. I can't fathom this, but I admit it was tasty alongside the mac salad. This tofu is similar to my mom's cooking though, and was too heavy on soy-sauce.

I say if we can fit into the chairs we are still children

Herbivore – The Earthly Grill

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Youth is forever mine! The place was packed with kids on a field trip or something, so this mini table next to the window was the only available area.

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After dinner, we realized we misplaced our car, along with any hope for SF “street smarts”. As we roamed the area looking for a semblance of either of those things, we came across something much better: Mission Pie! I remember when this place was a tiny hidden gem that took me forever to find. Since then, they’ve expanded their space and menu to ensure ease of pie-consumption.

This vegan macaroon with cacao nibs had a chewy caramelized base. Perfect mildly-sweet treat to end on.

Lanesplitter’s with an Herbivore finish

Sorry the picture qualities for this post are atrotious, even for me!

After a couple failed attempts I finally made it to Lanesplitter Pub & Pizza! They have two sit-down locations and one for whole pie pick-up around here, all modest-sized and dingy from the outside. Never would you guess that half their menu is vegetarian or that they use one of the best vegan cheeses in Berkeley. My “Best Vegan Pizza” search just recently started, but theirs took the lead with Notta Ricotta. I despise normal ricotta but that’s what I love about vegan cheeses that don’t try to imitate the real stuff.

had a pic without flash but it slipped through a tear in the time-space continuum

had a pic without flash but it slipped through a tear in the time-space continuum

This has more of a creamy, herby, soybeany flavor. The crust is Sicilian style, with olives which comes in a combo with salad and drink (5.50 or 6.25 for two slices). You can opt for the thinner, Neopolitan crust but I wanted to relive my Roman holidays where 50% of what I consumed was thick pizza crust. Dio mio, this was the best crust i’ve EVER had, trumping Italy. Looks are deceiving but it was unbelievably doughy and soft, while every bit of the edges/bottom was crispy in contrast. It’s not much in the looks department but there was not one part of the crust that tasted dry or hard. It reminds me of my favorite foccacia at Cafe Giovanni, but with more tastiness on top and without the rosemary (bummer). I wish they used olives that weren’t canned but I’d get it again because another richer, stronger flavor held up well to the light base.

salad with garbanzo/kidney beans and garlic vinaigrette

salad with garbanzo/kidney beans and garlic vinaigrette

None of their dressings sounded that appealing but this is quite a nice salad for something that comes with a combo! It needed more flavor. If you took all the combo salads and lined them up in a beauty pageant this would make it to the finals but probably blow it by answering a question with being grateful for the shiny hair God gave her.

Vegan Eggplant Bake (9.75) with spinach, mushroom, onion and roasted garlic in red sauce, smothered in Notta Ricotta

Vegan Eggplant Bake (9.75) with spinach, mushroom, onion and roasted garlic in red sauce, smothered in Notta Ricotta

I wanted a carb component in this, but that’s not their fault. It was prepared well but I could make it at home, in which case I’d also add a lot more salt and herbs.  This one should consider packing her bags.

vegan german chocolate cake with pecans (6.25)

vegan german chocolate cake with pecans (6.25)

From Herbivore, one of my favorite albiet trendy/overpriced vegan places. Impromptu purchase after my friend raved about the cake, and seeing as I rarely feel like getting dessert I went with the impulse. It was perfectly moist and I loved the fudge icing and coconut sauce. Vegan desserts are pretty hard to mess up in my book, unless they require buttery flavor (cookies) but I’m sure that’s replicable nowadays. Maybe I’m still not a dessert person. If you’re a chocoholic, I prob wouldn’t recommend this because even though it looks dark it doesn’t have a strong chocolate flavor compared to other cakes. It reminded me of carob but it probably was just milder cocoa. Good for people who don’t want dark chocolate. But then you might try the carrot cake, which is what I’m going to do next time.

Ratings for Lanesplitter only

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