• November 10th, 2009quarrygirlcafe muse, LA restaurants

    vegan reuben at cafe muse

    as you probably know, there’s a bit of a vegan reuben sandwich craze going around los angeles. a good reuben seems to get everyone all excited, and right now their are several pretty decent ones around town. we’ve talked about the sandwiches from flore, cafe flourish, and follow your heart…and today we bring you one more to add to the list: the vegan reuben from cafe muse.

    the muse reuben is by default vegetarian, so when you order be sure to mention that you want it made vegan. they will fill your sandwich up with delectable “ham,” follow your heart cheese, loads of sauerkraut and gooey thousand island. this makes for a super hearty and satisfying sandwich that will keep you going for the rest of the day. unfortunately, there isn’t a rye bread option at cafe muse, so the sandwich comes on your choice of wheat (pictured above) or pumpernickel.

    vegan reuben: veggie ham served warm with soy mozzarella, thousand island dressing, and sauerkraut. with your choice of side. $8.50

    vegan reuben: veggie ham served warm with soy mozzarella, thousand island dressing, and sauerkraut. with your choice of side. $8.50

    while cafe muse’s reuben may not appear to be as special as some of the others on the list, and i definitely wouldn’t call it the best in town, it’s a damn fine sandwich at a very reasonable price. it clocks in at only $8.50, and that includes a generous side of sweet potato fries. and the sweet potato fries, well they are fucking incredible. they are thin, crispy and flavorful…with just the right amount of grease. the fact that you can get a big old sandwich and a mound of fries for under 9 bucks sounds pretty good to me.

    if you aren’t in the mood for fried stuff, you can also get your sandwich with a side of salad or crispy tortilla chips. pictured below the muse vegan reuben with greens on pumpernickel. while it may not be quite the steal that a large helping of sweet potato fries is, the side salad at cafe muse is awesome. they use dark leafy greens, and also give you a generous amount of tomatoes and cucumbers. pure yum any way you look at it.

    cafe muse vegan reuben on pumpernickle

    so there you have it, the cafe muse reuben is one decent sandwich. it certainly isn’t going to win any awards or anything, but i would order it again and i don’t think you can get a better reuben for under ten bucks!

    cafe muse
    6547 Santa Monica Blvd
    Hollywood, CA 90038

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  • When you eat food that was prepared by somebody else, you’re entering into an unwritten contract of trust that is centuries old. On a base level, you’re trusting that the food preparer took all the necessary steps to ensure that what you’re about to eat was made with ingredients that are wholesome (not contaminated, past a use-by date etc.) and prepared in an environment that’s clean and sanitary. For us vegans, especially when dining in an omnivorous establishment, we’re also trusting that our food is animal free – something we take very seriously.

    The ultimate slap in the face, though, is to be served food under the guise of it being vegan, only to find out that it not only contains animal products but was prepared on equipment so dirty that it’s a clear health hazard and contravenes a number of health codes. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dee’s Bakery and Donuts: the non-vegan donuts cooked in a filthy deep-fat fryer.

    Let’s first examine the non-vegan nature of the ingredients. We understand, from two eye-witnesses that the sprinkles for the donuts contain “Confectioner’s Glaze”, or Shellac, which is made from the secretion of the lac insect (the manufacturing process involves keeping thousands of insects under warm lamps so that they secrete like crazy until they die from heat exhaustion after only a few hours). The resulting secretion turns into a hard, shell-like compound when cooled (hence the name Shellac – Shell from the Lac insect) and is the coating on the sprinkles of Dee’s Donuts. Nice, huh?

    Now, there are plenty of non-shellac sprinkles available – however, they are more expensive than the regular kind and more difficult to obtain. Still, not impossible and by no means prohibitively expensive as a simple search on the Web will confirm.

    the donut machine that makes dee's donuts

    the donut machine that makes dee's donuts (also note the layer of dust next to the oil underneath. YUCK)

    Now, what about the dirty preparation conditions? You probably know that donuts have to be deep fried – this is what gives them an utterly decadent flavor, as the combination of sugar and oil wrapped up in a crispy surface tastes just great! You probably don’t want to know, though, the details of how to maintain and care for a professional deep fat frying machine, and apparently neither does the person who makes Dee’s Donuts.

    In a restaurant I frequent regularly, along the main corridor between the dining area and the restroom, is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen: the deep fat fryer used by Dee’s Donuts. To be honest, I thought that it was a piece of scrap kitchen equipment that was discarded and ready to be taken away as junk and even joked as much with the person who owns the kitchen. Apparently, Dee’s Donuts rent the restaurant kitchen early in the morning to make the donuts, and then leave the fryer for 20 hours, in a main corridor completely uncovered.

    Kitchen health rules (and common sense) state that fryers must be covered when not being used, as cold oil is very sticky and attracts flies, hair, insects, dander and fluff. Every fryer I’ve ever seen has a cover that’s put in place when the kitchen closes, and then removed when the oil is heated up for the next shift. Sadly, Dee’s Bakery and Donuts don’t think us vegans are worth protecting and leave a dirty fryer open for many, many hours so it can absorb god knows what crap before being used again for the next batch of donuts. I took a close look at the surface of the oil with a flashlight, and could see plenty of hair fibers and what appeared to be a small black fly that had obviously flown to the fryer, attracted by the smell only to meet a sticky death before being cooked into a donut that some unsuspecting person would eat the next day.


    This harks back to a comment one LA vegan made some time ago that there was “a hair” stuck in the coating of his donut. No fucking wonder! And, I’m absolutely serious about all this — the photographic evidence proves it, as well as several eye witness accounts of the fryer’s neglect.

    These days, it’s cool to be a vegan baker — seems like everybody is doing it (Dee’s Donuts were even featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show). An avalanche of decadent vegan products is a welcome addition to our diets (in moderation, of course!) and really helps dispel the myth that we vegans live on cabbage and tofu. However, it’s one thing to be too cool for school and create something vegan, and another to be responsible enough to ensure that you keep your side of the unwritten contract of common decency.

    I’d urge Dee’s Bakery and Donuts customers (Intelligentsia, Locali, Café Muse, Café De Leche and others) to stop carrying the products immediately and pull anything unsold out of the desert case and put it into the trash where it belongs. If you’re in one of those establishments and you see Dee’s Donuts baked goods for sale tell them about the hair and fly-filled fryer and insect secretions.

    I’ve eaten several Dee’s Donuts over the past few months, and even given them to vegan friends. After seeing that fryer and reading about shellac I really feel like I want to puke. Dee’s Bakery and Donuts: you really let us all down. Thanks for sidling up to the vegan community of LA (this blog included) for a bunch of free publicity and a lot of love and hope from us, in return to feed us insect secretions, flies and hairs. Thank you very fucking much.

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  • April 10th, 2009quarrygirlcafe muse, LA restaurants

    i’ve got some good news for y’all los angeles vegans: cafe muse in hollywood is now offering soy cheese! woo! if you’ve never been to cafe muse before, you should definitely check it out. the modest little coffee shop/restaurant serves up an almost entirely vegetarian menu and has loads of vegan offerings. they help you identify the vegan items on the menu by putting a little star * next to all the stuff that contains dairy. well now, vegans can eat most of the starred menu items as well, by substituting vegan soy cheese for normal cheese. that’s right…the pizza, quesadilla, nachos and chili cheese fries are no longer off limits!


    i celebrated yesterday by hitting up cafe muse and ordering a vegan grilled cheese sandwich. they use follow your heart for the vegan cheese, and as you can see they don’t have the melting technique quite down yet. while the grilled cheese sandwich was decent and i appreciated the fact it had both mozzarella and cheddar inside it, the fake cheese was just a little clumpy for my taste. i wish cafe muse would start carrying teese from chicago soy dairy, because i’m pretty sure that’s the best vegan cheese that’s readily available here in los angeles. oh well.

    not your mama's grilled cheese (vegan-style): made with two types of vegan soy cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. $7.95

    not your mama's grilled cheese (vegan-style): made with two types of vegan soy cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. $7.95

    despite being called a grilled cheese sandwich, which sounds really decadent, this meal was pretty light and healthy-tasting. there wasn’t much cheese on the sandwich, and the whole thing tasted toasted…not grilled in a butter substitute or anything like that. it came stuffed with little sun dried tomatoes which gave it a slightly sweet and tasty flavor. i was expecting the sandwich to be much more unhealthy, so i got it with a side salad instead of sweet potato fries. all together, it was a pretty good meal….albeit expensive at 8 bucks.

    i don’t think i will order this sandwich again, although i definitely want to test drive the vegan cheese on the nachos and pizza. i will let you know how that turns out. in the mean time, if you want a healthy meal that will not disappoint, grab one of cafe muse’s make your own salads. for under ten bucks you can get a f-ing HUGE bowl of salad with any fixins you desire. my favorite combo is the grilled garlic-soy tofu with vegan ranch, although they also offer four varieties of soy chicken as well. you can’t go wrong.

    make your own healthy salad with tomatoes, mushroms, onions and added tofu. $9.50

    make your own healthy salad with tomatoes, mushroms, onions and added tofu. $9.50

    so check out cafe muse if you haven’t already, and support their decision to carry vegan cheese. maybe it will be more melty on the other menu items.

    cafe muse
    6547 Santa Monica Blvd
    Hollywood, CA 90038

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  • December 12th, 2008quarrygirlcafe muse, LA restaurants

    as of yesterday, there’s one more reason to love cafe muse in hollywood. not only do they have breakfast daily, a great vegan selection of wraps, delicious sandwiches and huge, hearty build-your-own salads; but now they sell no whey VEGAN CUPCAKES! i don’t know of anywhere else in hollywood i can get vegan cupcakes, and this place happens to be like 5 feet from my work. 

    chocolate and vanilla vegan cupcakes. $3.25 each.

    chocolate and vanilla vegan cupcakes. $3.25 each.

    cafe muse sells both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and both flavors are out of this world. i bought one for my omnivorous friend, and she just couldn’t believe they were vegan. she said the actual cake bit tasted way better than any she’d ever tried before, and the frosting was just as rich and creamy as on other cupcakes.

    i would have to agree with her. these cupcakes were just as good as the ones i used to get from leda’s bakeshop in the valley, which has closed to the public and is only taking special orders. it’s so great to have top notch vegan cupcakes again, and right here in hollywood!

    no whey, the vegan baking company that makes these cupcakes, is owned by jenn shaggy, the maker of the famous los angeles vegan twinkies. her twinkies have gained a lot of local press, and i can say her cupcakes are just as good.

    so hollywood vegans, rejoice! cafe muse has super awesome vegan cupcakes. go check out this cafe if you haven’t already. they have a ton of great food and now some really tasty desserts.

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  • July 21st, 2008quarrygirlcafe muse, LA restaurants

    i wish there were more places in hollywood like cafe muse. this unassuming restaurant offers quality coffee, a relaxing atmosphere and an almost entirely vegetarian menu (their only transgression is tuna). they definitely know the difference between vegan and vegetarian, and clearly mark on the menu which dishes contain dairy and/or eggs. on top of all that, and most importantly, the food is pretty damn good!

    grilled tofu wrap at cafe muse
    grilled tofu wrap: tofu grilled with garlic, soy sauce and red onion, with fresh tomatoes, avocado and mixed greens. $8.50

    cafe muse veggie burger
    veggie burger: vegan soy burger on a whole-wheat bun, served with fresh tomatoes, red onion and mixed greens, with dijon mustard and vegan mayo (add avocado for 75¢). $7.95

    this vegan burger certainly hit the spot, although i probably wouldn’t order it again. while it was tasty, it was definitely a mass-produced patty…i’m thinking it tasted like boca, but i can’t be sure. i don’t mind eating those at home, but when i go out to eat i want a vegan burger that’s special. native foods and m café come to mind. i won’t hold this against cafe muse though, because it was still delicious. especially with the light and healthy side salad.

    the grilled tofu wrap, on the other hand, was incredible—probably the best i’ve had in any restaurant. perfectly marinated tofu, paired with fresh vegetables and covered in soy sauce made for an unlikely combination that tasted great. all wrapped up in a spinach tortilla and slightly grilled on the bottom, it was delectable.

    griled tofu wrap at cafe muse

    i seriously can’t wait to go back and order this again. i’ve had a lot of wraps in my time, and i think the soy sauce must be what made this one so savory. yum.

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