update 5/18/11: turns out the “soy bacon” on the village natural burger isn’t vegan! the restaurant is aware of this and is supposedly changing the menu. full update at the bottom of the post. meanwhile: beware.
hey guys! i’m happy to announce we have a field report today from a legit writer—can you believe it? simon goddard, music journalist extraordinaire and author of the mozipedia (one of our favorite books, look!), penned us this post about his culinary adventures in manhattan. from pizza and burgers to vegan fish and chips…i want it all. enjoy!
Oh, New York! It’s a bit of a temptress. I’m a fiercely loyal Londoner and still every time I set foot in Manhattan I have my doubts as to which is the greatest city on earth. As the song goes, I like the sight, the sound and even the stink of it. In London we have signs which read “No parking, clamping in operation.” In Manhattan they have signs which read “Don’t even THINK of parking here.” Therein lies the singular genius of New York, a masterpiece of concrete, clay and invincible human character.
I digress. I was lucky enough to be working there again this month so promised the estimable Quarrygirl I’d scribble some words for her blog about a few of the nicer things I put in my mouth. And here they are. Whenever in New York, I almost always end up in Greenwich Village at some point, if only for a sneaky stroke of the Bleecker Street Records cat (irresistible) or to marvel at the 300 year-old English Elm in Washington Square (unbelievable). So for all similarly besotted cat-botherers and tree-huggers who may find themselves in the area hankering for impeccable death-free nibbles, here are three personal recommendations.
For years this has been my favourite vegetarian spot in New York, even if I’ve always been in the daytime when it’s fairly quiet and “vibes” are minimal (it’s a bit “yoga” if you know what I mean) but the food seldom disappoints. It’s Vietnamese-owned though the menu ranges from Asian to salads, burgers and Mexican dishes. I’ve tried various mains here, but you can’t beat the burgers.
My favourite is this black-bean burger. It comes open with a dollop of guacamole, a generous fresh salad topped with a strip of crispy veggie bacon***(read update below) brought vigorously to life by a side of orange and ginger dressing. As a meal it strikes a perfect balance between guilty “bad” burger food (and it is a glorious big, flat, more-ish monster of a burger) and enriching “good” healthy salad: you definitely don’t miss fries.
The only disappointment this visit was dessert. In the past they’ve done the most amazing vegan tiramisu, probably the best I’ve ever tasted and one that I’ve all but sadistically enthused about to Quarrygirl to jealousy-inducing extremes. Alas, for whatever reason it wasn’t an option on the blackboard this time. To compensate, I ordered the vegan mocha pie which looked like this:
It had a porridgy-base, a chalky texture and altogether tasted like somebody had dropped a triangle of brown shoe polish on some oatmeal, then tried to make it smell better by administering a few extra squirts of Tweed by Lentheric. That is, it was cloggy with a wretched perfumed hue and not remotely mocha-ish. If their tiramisu was a 10, the mocha pie just scraped a 2. But despite this Hindenburg of sweet catastrophes, the sometimes slow-to-react zombiefied waiters and the sad fact they serve a handful of fish options, I still rate this place highly. I just pray they get that tiramisu back on their menu before I next darken its door.Tags: burger, field report, fish and chips, new york, NYC, pizza
one my favorite places i’ve ever been would have to be highline in seattle.
the brand new bar is located on capitol hill in an upstairs space of a former nightclub, and serves a huge menu of reasonably-priced and entirely vegan fare. we were tipped off by our friend, a seattle local, who had heard that highline had opened up in her neighborhood and supposedly served “vegan bar snacks”. we went in not expecting a whole lot, and were completely blown away by the selection and quality of the food. we loved highline so much in fact, that we dined there 2 nights in a row. have a look at what we ate…
first up from the shared plates menu, we ordered the fish and chips. the minute we saw this greasy classic was offered, we knew we had to order it—and highline did not disappoint! the “fish” was some kind of soy concoction (tofu perhaps?) lightly battered and wrapped in nori. it was beyond delicious. the fries were perfectly cooked as well, and the dish came with the most unbelievably creamy pot of tartar sauce. by far, this is the best plate of vegan fish and chips i’ve ever had.
we also shared the caeser salad with added vegan chicken, and it was excellent as well. cool and fresh romaine, all topped off with crispy little nuggets of grilled soy. again, this dish exceeded our expectations.
lastly, on the first night, we shared highline’s version of the vegan reuben. all the sandwiches are either $7 solo or $10 with a side. there was a really interesting vegan cottage cheez dish on the menu, so we ordered it as a side. unfortunately, highline was out of that and we wound up with a side of coleslaw. it was a happy ending though, because the coleslaw was wonderful. rich and creamy with a tasty blend of shredded vegetables.
but enough about the side, let me tell you about THE SANDWICH! OMG holy wow, this was an epic sandwich—the best reuben i’ve ever eaten. if this thing were down in LA, it would steal the reuben wars crown in 2 seconds flat. it was filled with the meatest homemade vegan pastrami that was thickly sliced and super hearty. not to mention phenomenal cheese and rich dressing. i couldn’t even finish half of it; it was so massive. honestly, i just can’t say enough good things about this sandwich.
on our second night at highline, we started with the potato skins appetizer. this came with six mini potatoes loaded up with cheezy sauce, tempeh bacon, tomatoes, and onions—all with a thick creamy sauce. to say this dish was amazing would be an understatement! it was crazy good, fantastic, just like so many other dishes we tried at highline. i told the bartender/waiter that these were the best potato skins i’d ever eaten, and he was like, “yeah, we haven’t been open very long so we are still working out the recipes. they should get even better.” i am officially jealous of everyone who lives in seattle.
next we split the “chiggen caesar wrap,” and much to my excitement, the cottage cheez was back in stock! the side was sooooo good. i never thought i would eat a vegan version of cottage cheese, and i loved it! they made it out of chunky crumbled tofu and some kind of thick white sauce. the texture was so close to the real thing, i couldn’t believe it. the wrap was even better than the caesar salad we’d eaten the night before. it came in an over-sized flour tortilla complete with grill marks (which i love).
we also shared a vegan philly dip grinder, but asked them to leave out the bell peppers (which i hate). another absolutely perfect sandwich, this thing was filled with grilled seitan strips, sauteed vegetables and tons of melty daiya cheese. the aus jus was flavorful and salty, the perfect dip for this beauty. SO DAMN GOOD. and a feast for just 7 bucks!
we were only in seattle for 3 nights, and i tried to convince my husband to return to highline on our last evening as well, but he said 2 times in one trip were enough. dammit. i am already plotting another visit to the pacific northwest.
i’ve got to admit, the atmosphere in highline is a little meh…but they haven’t been open very long, so hopefully they will fix it up a bit. it just seems sort of thrown together: they have a huge bar with tables and chairs scattered around, and tons of empty space. the beer selection isn’t great (think pbr), and there is a small amount of outdoor seating. the food is FANTASTIC though, and that’s what counts.
next time you are in seattle, go to capitol hill and climb the steps on broadway avenue up to highline. it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but there you will find food unlike anything you’ve ever eaten. i know i will visit as often as possible.
210 broadway avenue east
seattle, wa 98102
mon – fri 11am-2am
sat and sun 9am-2am
PS: HERE ARE THE MENUS!!!!!!!!!! read at your own risk, they will make you way hungry.Tags: bar, fish and chips, potato skins, reuben, sandwich, seattle
(click thumbies to enlarge)
As a boy growing up in England during the 70s, “fish and chips” were a real staple food for me (yes, the stereotype about us Brits is true). I was never that much into the fish part as my preference was to peel off and eat the crunchy batter with my tiny, newsprint-blackened hands and consume huge mounds of chips and mushy peas at the same time. After becoming vegetarian, I used to eat just the chips and mushy peas — an unbeatable combo of grease and greens!
So, it was with much anticipation that, on a recent trip to San Francisco, I sampled the offerings of Weird Fish – a pescetarian restaurant in the Mission District that has a vegan Fish and Chips option on the menu. I was quite intrigued to understand how one could veganize the “fish” part of the fish and chips, and my intrigue quickly morphed into a very full belly not long after our order arrived.
Before we talk about the food, though, it’s worth mentioning that Weird Fish is rather small inside and can get very crowded at meal times. When we were there, around 1pm on a weekday, there was a line outside as well as way too many people cramped over tiny tables inside. Whenever something like that happens, you know you’re either somewhere trendy or somewhere really special. Well, I guess Weird Fish is both trendy and special, something we experience rarely in Los Angeles – usually places are firmly in the trendy or special camp and almost never both.
We ordered the Buffalo Girls (seitan “chicken” wings with buffalo sauce and vegan ranch dressing) as an appetizer, and were very pleased. Each piece was coated in a perfectly crunchy and spicy batter that was red hot (temperature AND spicy hot), yet the inside was warm and very chewy. I’ve never eaten “real” chicken wings, so I can’t compare these to them, but I can tell you they were absolutely delicious and I’d eat them again in a heartbeat.
For our main course we ordered one vegan seitan fish and chips (fries for you Americans), which came with vegan tartar sauce, wrapped in soy batter, and one tofu fish and chips entrée which was similarly presented, yet the sauce was vegan sweet and sour cream. At only $8 for two pieces with chips, this was not only a huge portion of food but great value too. If you’re extra hungry, you can get an additional piece of tofu or seitan “fish” for only $3 more. No wonder this place is so crazy busy!
The tofu choice was a huge, hunking chunk of firm, seasoned tofu with a very steamy inside…
yet the seitan “fish” was much more chewy (the same inside, I think, as the Buffalo Girls).
What’s special here is not a chunk of vegetable protein per-se, but what they DO with it. The vegan batter is incredibly tasty, soaked in oil and so crunchy that it breaks into bits that fly all over the place when you bite into it. The chips are also similarly perfectly prepared — probably from fresh potatoes which means you can actually taste the potato rather than the freezer bag that held them for months before you ate them.
The only downside I can think of for Weird Fish is the humongous amount of oil and calories one must consume when eating there. I must have had over 600 calories (most of them fat) from the one meal I ate. You know what, though? I’d eat that again if it was twice the calories and happily skip another meal to make up for it, even if that meal was at Millennium, allegedly one of the finest vegan dining establishments in the world, where I happened to have a reservation the very same evening I ate at Weird Fish.
2193 Mission Street,
San Francisco, CA 94110
DaysTags: battered, english, fish and chips, fries, san francisco
Mon – Fri: 11am – 4pm
Sat – Sun: 9am – 4pm
Sun – Thu: 5pm-10:30pm
Fri & Sat: 5pm-11:30pm