28 June 2015

boston : trident booksellers & cafe.

on our last day in new england, we decided to take a drive out to ipswich to visit the service dog project. (check them out ... read, enjoy looking at doggies, donate. they are amazing there.) anyway, before leaving boston city limits, we decided to get breakfast / brunch / whatever at trident booksellers & cafe on newbury street.

le about : "since 1984, trident booksellers & cafe has been providing back bay residents, students & tourists with sustenance for the mind & body. ... we offer ... a full service restaurant, books, cards, gifts &, above all, a unique boston experience." perfect spot for our last meal!

i was pretty pumped when we got seated upstairs right at the window overlooking newbury street. here's what i had ...

tofu scramble :
spinach, tomatoes & broccoli.
i love a tofu scramble. this was no exception. only issue was i could tell they were rushed with it. see the not so scrambled tofu & kind of not chopped piece of broccoli above. still delicious.

as i said, my tofu scramble was quite tasty. however ... a couple of snafus while dining, which i'm only commenting on because i hold breakfast places to very high standards, since i worked at one (what up, egg harbor cafe!) for several summers in college. 

1. my first plate came out with mushrooms. ick. the second dish is above. 
2. pretty certain our waitress was under some sort of influence ... just kind of not so good service. (examples: no coffee refills & putting two tofu scrambles on our bill. not major, but still.) 
3. we all like to be green ... but they do a thing at trident with no paper check, just signing on an ipad. fine. but the server stands over you & has to ask what tip amount you want to leave. listen, as i said ... i was a server. so i 99.9% of the time leave a nice tip anyway (even with bad service). but what if you didn't want to?? oh well. 

not trying to be harsh on trident ... my food was delish. i'd highly recommend. just be prepared in case of the above. 

trident booksellers & cafe
338 newbury street
boston, ma 02115

24 June 2015

sono wood fired.

a couple of weeks ago, i got finally got din with my gal pal (hi, tedi!) after a couple of weeks of rescheduling. we had intended to eat at the whole foods on north ave ... but the menu was smaller than expected, so we decided to venture elsewhere!

we ended up down the street at sono wood fired, a pizza place right on clybourn in lincoln park. (i believe sono is short for south of north avenue ... chicago's attempt at a soho. a little cringeworthy, not going to lie.)

anywho ... a bit about sono : "michelin guide recommended 4 years in a row ... soft wood tones, exposed brick & a warm glow from the blaze of our wood-fired oven creates a warm & inviting ambiance." definitely worth a try!

here's what i had ...

spinach & arugula salad :
fennel, orange, red onion, pine nuts & orage blossom honey vinaigrette. 
a little heavy on the arugula & light on the spinach. but very fresh, light & tasty! a nice light summer dinner. 

cipollini onion jam :
lavender honey. no cheese.
mmm. bread/carbs. quite tasty.

i didn't inquire about the vegan-ness of their pizza. i know, i should have. so i want to find that out, then determine if i'll be back. but for a last minute, quick place to pop into, sono worked out quite well.

sono wood fired
1582 n. clybourn ave.
chicago, il 60642

21 June 2015

boston : sweet cheeks.

as you know (since i've told you 50x), the first thing i do when prepping for travel to a new city is google "vegan + [name of city]." the second thing i do is google "top chef + [name of city]." the second search is what reminded me that sweet cheeks is in boston!

sweet cheeks is top chef alum chef tiffani faison's restaurant. on the most recent top chef season (top chef duels), tiffani & her challenger, dale talde (from top chef: chicago, woot!), were tasked with creating some vegan dishes (!!!) for none other than stereotypical vegan rob zombie. (har har.)

in the episode, tiffani explained that vegans & vegetarians come to sweet cheeks all the time. and while we are relegated to eating salads & sides, hey ... it's a freaking bbq joint. come on.

from tiffani about sweet cheeks : "pull up a chair & pop a cold one. sweet cheeks is the american south north of the mason dixon, it's my backyard as a kid. ... it's everything i love about what food can be & who we can be with food: disarming, comforting, convivial & fun." mmm. 

here's what i had ...

farm salad :
arugula, brussels sprouts, grapes, farro. 
i think this was a no cheese situation, but i don't remember. i also wasn't starving after my huge lunch at veggie galaxy, so this salad was perfect for me. light, fresh, great flavors ... i was super into the grapes. overall, two thumbs up. 

i could have inquired about more of the sides, but again, wasn't that hungers. i also was somewhat devastated that tiffani was out of town for the kentucky derby, so i didn't even get to have a chef sighting freakout. (which i'm sure josh & our pal, caylan, appreciated.)

so vegans ... if you're in boston & being forced by non-vegans to eat at non-vegan restaurants ... suggest sweet cheeks. maybe you'll be lucky enough to peep tiffani. 

here's me & josh at fenway after our delish sweet cheeks din :
go sox! (they lost, but it was still fun.)

sweet cheeks
1381 boylston street
boston, ma 02215

17 June 2015

roots handmade pizza.

pizza has been a big lunch favorite at my office lately. and a couple weeks ago, we decided to try somewhere new : roots handmade pizza in ukrainian village / west town.

wanna know about roots? : "roots homemade pizza was born in the quad cities, raised in chicago. it's what happened when a bit of hometown nostalgia met our obsession with inventive, made-from-scratch food." mmm!

here's what i had ...

vegan pizza :
spinach, garlic, red peppers & artichokes. 
mmm. tbh, i didn't eat that much of this pizza. (i wasn't starving, ok?!) but the couple pieces i did eat were quite tasty. it was my first time trying "quad cities" style pizza ... compared to chicago style? meh. maybe a little dry. but i mean, come on. it's pizza. it's gonna be delish. 

i've heard roots has great build your own salads & i'd like to try the pizza in the actual restaurant (not delivery), so i'm looking forward to going back & trying more options! who's with me??

roots handmade pizza
1924 w. chicago ave.
chicago, il 60622

14 June 2015

boston : veggie galaxy.

after i shared my "i'm going to boston" post, one of my classmates from high school (hi, carly!) sent me a message. she nows lives in boston & had some great ideas for where to eat ... one of which was a stop at veggie galaxy in cambridge.

since we were spending the day with one of our college friends (hi, caylan!) who was living in the area, it was the perfect place to pop into.

the veggie galaxy mantra is pretty ideal ... "take the classic diner menu, tear out everything but the framework, & ... insert pure, bright, bold, flavor. ... this is food for everyone, & the food that the vegetarian community can feel comfortable knowing that every ingredient, every dish, every single component is available to them, with no limitations or substitutions needed. and for the vegans? yeah, we've TOTALLY got you covered."

here's what i had ...

the club :
grilled tempeh bacon, smoked tofu, balsamic roasted tomato, romaine, raw red onion, basil pesto & roasted garlic mayo. 
after our donut breakfast, this was another situation of lunch time rolling around & me being absolutely starving. so in typical halley fashion, i inhaled this sandwich. it was fantastic. 

fried pickles :
these, not as good. i mean, fine. but i prefer fried pickle chips vs. spears.
#veganproblems, amirite?

to me, veggie galaxy was kind of the boston version of the chicago diner. traditional diner food for veggies. always a win.

veggie galaxy
450 massachusetts ave.
cambridge, ma 02139

10 June 2015

sweet mandy b's.

from donuts to cupcakes!

there's a little gem in lincoln park called sweet mandy b's. it's a bakery, whose speciality includes "s'mores, frosting smeared cupcakes, banana pudding w/ nilla wafers, whoppie pies, chocolate cookies sandwiching thick vanilla frosting & more!"

until now, none of that amazingness included anything vegan. but we can thank our lucky stars because i walked in one morning to find this :

i pretty much fainted on the spot.

apparently, "& more" now includes vegan cupcakes! 

here's what i had ...

chocolate & vanilla cupcakes w/ vanilla buttercream :
i know these look like basic cupcakes ... they are. but by basic, i mean classic. 
are they the best vegan cupcakes i've ever had? no. are they the worst? also no. 

the cupcakes are obviously new to their menu ... and i think there are some kinks to work out. but we're off to a good start. they can also make vegan cakes. (but no decorations at this time, since their vegan frosting won't work like that.)

things can only get better for vegans at sweet mandy b's. get excited!

sweet mandy b's
1208 w. webster ave.
chicago, il 60614

07 June 2015

boston : union square donuts.

a quick google search for "vegan boston" led me straight to union square donuts in, where else, union square.

per the union square donuts facebook page, the about : "gourmet scratch donuts handcrafted in somerville, ma." leggo!

post-it wall stand out note :
#duh. #vegandonuts. #heaven.
i did not write this, but i could have.

here's what i had ...

chocolate donut :
this was kind of like a soft, chocolate covered churro. the chocolate sauce reminded me a lot of the chocolate from the chocolatería san ginés in madrid ... a favorite dessert spot (for non-vegans). not too sweet & yet still tasty. 

sugar donut holes :
while the chocolate donut was good ... the sugar donut holes were like little drops of heaven. i could have easily polished off this whole box, but that would have been absurd. damn, were they good. (josh agreed.)

i'm not one to ever pass up a vegan donut. and i felt like it was destiny (lol.) that google led me to this place. all signs point to delicious.

union square donuts
20 bow street
somerville, ma 02143

03 June 2015

update : doc b's fresh kitchen.

since my first visit to doc b's fresh kitchen in the gold coast, i've been about 600 more times. (this is a literal number of visits.) people, it's just so good. trust.

they introduced me to one of my favorite salads in the city (the california salad) ... which i've devoured several times. but recently, i've been branching out a bit. in between calis, i've tried a few new items.

a quick reminder ... doc b's is all about "a focus on fresh, housemade, & locally minded dishes." sign me up ... again.

here's what i had ...

veggie burger :
signature quinoa & black bean recipe with teriyaki glaze. (no cheese, no kale slaw.)
i can be iffy on a veggie burger. but this one was great! i was trying to be low cal (see side of spinach) & not eat the bun, but failed. which turned out to be fine, because the bun was awesome, too. 

wok out bowl :
market veggies, chopped cashews, tofu & brown rice.
doc b's has really good tofu. i don't know how or why, but they do. so if i'm in the mood for a warm dish instead of the cali sali, this is my go-to. super flavorful, always fresh & usually involves kale, which is obviously a win in my book. 

i wish a doc b's would open up another location further north ... although, while it'd be convenient & delicious, i'd likely go broke from eating there too often. until then ... the gold coast spot is always on my radar for a consistently tasty dish. 

doc b's fresh kitchen
100 e. walton st.
chicago, il 60611