• March 8th, 2009mr meanerholy cow, LA restaurants

    Well, not IN the Beverly Center, but right across the street across from Souplantation on 3rd St., just East of La Cienega. Holy Cow is an honest to goodness fast-food style Indian eat-in/carry-out kitchen with a range of veg and non-veg offerings. As is common with many Southern-Indian restaurants there’s no beef on the bill of fayre (probably due to quasi-Hindi leanings of its owners) which leaves an extra-large gap in the menu for vegetarian food, much of which is either naturally vegan or can be made as such.

    vegan take-out dinner from holy cow

    vegan take-out dinner from holy cow

    On our recent visit, we rolled up at 8pm on a Saturday evening, and made that classic mistake: allowing cell a couple of ‘phone babbling people to go into the restaurant ahead of us. By the time they’d figured out what they wanted to eat, changed it three times, and had any number of ‘phone conversations with friends about the menu selections, we’d been standing by the counter for a good 10 minutes. However, the experience was rather educational as we deduced the gang in front of us were somewhat observant Jewish people, most particular to ensure that there was no dairy in anything they ordered – in this way, we got a good grounder of what could, and could not be, veganized without having to go through a big Q&A with the person taking the order.

    When it was finally our turn, a very nice Indian gentleman of some stature and presence politely engaged with us, helping guide our choices. As is common with West Coast outlets like this (especially Indian), ordering a “dinner” is excellent value. For only a couple of bucks more than an a-la-carte single main dish one can get a appetizer, main dish, side of vegetables, rice and bread. Sadly for us, the naan bread contained eggs, so we had to order a-la-carte, even though a better economic decision might have been to order the dinner and trash the naan bread. But that’s not very vegan, now is it?

    vegetarian samosas: crisp turnovers filled with potatoes and peas. $3.95

    vegetarian samosas: crisp turnovers filled with potatoes and peas. $3.95

    We started off with two Vegetable Samosas – at only $3.95 they were exceptional value and extremely tasty, being freshly prepared in the kitchen when our order was taken.


    They had that crispy outside with hot steamy inside that is so unique to this dish. The nearest thing is a Chimichanga – that decadent Mexican-style deep-fried burrito, but I’d rather a samosa any day!

    aloo gobi: potato and cauliflower cooked with herb and spices $6.95...and saag tofu: pureed spinach with tofu and spices. $6.95. plus rice!$2.95

    aloo gobi: potato and cauliflower cooked with herb and spices $6.95...and saag tofu: pureed spinach with tofu and spices. $6.95. plus rice!$2.95

    I have a complete weakness for Potato and Cauliflower curries, particularly the Aloo Gobi which, if done right, can be a sublime dish. There’s something about the intersection of basic ingredients like vegetables, spices and oils that Indian cuisine does so well, and Holy Cow’s rendition holds up to the highest standards.

    Our other entrée was Saag Aloo with Tofu – basically pureed spinach (spinach haters stop reading this paragraph now!) with chunky potatoes, spices and small, firm tofu pieces. This can very much be a hit or miss dish in many Indian restaurants because the cooking times of everything vary so much – seconds for the spinach, but 30 minutes or more for the potatoes and tofu, so a juggling act in the kitchen is needed to pull this delicate dish off to perfection – and whomever was back-stage at Holy Cow knows exactly how to make Saag Aloo happen: the end result being perfection.

    Finally, we ordered White Rice, which was a bit misleading (albeit in a good way), because the rice was actually cooked in herbs and spices, including turmeric, which gave it a yellowy look and, spicy flavor that complemented the food perfectly.

    So, bottom line, Holy Cow was a GREAT, inexpensive Indian take-away very much in the tradition of my homeland in England where you can take home the curry or sit in a brightly lit restaurant and eat it there. Holy Cow has the ambience of a vegan Thai restaurant, but the food is so much better.

    With convenient parking, incredibly polite and helpful staff as well as completely above-average food, you can’t go wrong. The only competition is Samosa House, which is distant competition both in miles to travel (it’s in Culver City) and taste of the food.

    Thanks for being there, Holy Cow, and thanks for understanding about vegans and our standards. We’ll be regular customers.

    holy cow

    holy cow

    holy cow
    8474 W 3rd St
    Los Angeles, CA 90048
    (323) 852-8900

    monday – friday
    sat and sun

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  • February 15th, 2009quarrygirllondon, more restaurants (not LA)

    UPDATE 12/07/09: sadly eat and two veg has shut down. 🙁 this sucks. read update here.

    i have dined at loads of vegetarian/vegan restaurants in london, and one of my all-time favorites has to be eat and two veg. we go there at least once (usually twice) on every trip across the pond, and each visit leaves us loving it more and more. the trendy west end eatery has fashioned itself after an old school american diner—big red booths, a galvanized steel interior and neatly-dressed chefs (with white hats and all) make this place total 50s throwback heaven. big diffy is, while they serve up home cookin’, it’s all meat free and refreshingly healthy.

    take for instance the full english breakfast…you know, the standard british morning meal filled with animal bits that almost every pub, diner, and cafe sells. well, eat and two veg offers a slap-up traditional-style breakfast as well, except it’s all either vegetarian or vegan. we of course opted for the vegan version, which came compete with grilled tofu, baked beans, toast and an array of hearty vegetables.

    big vegan breakfast: tofu, tomato, mushrooms, beans, spinach and 2 toasts. £5.95

    big vegan breakfast: tofu, tomato, mushrooms, beans, spinach and 2 toasts. £5.95

    from looking at this picture, you may be thinking that this meal looks simple/boring/easy-to-make-at-home. let me tell ya, it was none of those things. this dish was exceptional. from the perfectly seasoned tofu, to the plump tomatoes and well sauteed mushrooms…everything was perfect. not to mention the excellent and insanely spicy fresh spinach, along with the crispy toast. if you ever go to london, don’t leave without trying this. it gives you the chance to enjoy the traditional english breakfast in all its vegan glory. you fucking deserve it.

    to be fair, eat and two veg only has a few vegan options on the breakfast menu, the big breakfast pictured being one of them. if that doesn’t look good to you, you may want to skip the morning menu. the main menu has even more tempting vegan offeringsl…so you kind of have no excuse not to visit them.


    plus, it’s not just about the food. all around eat and two veg is fucking immaculate and gorgeous. the service is great, the atmosphere is stunning and the ingredients are all top notch. they’re located in a really swish but quiet part of the west end called marylebone…just steps away from baker street station. go there.


    eat and two veg
    50 marylebone high street
    london, w1u 5hn
    020 7258 8595

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  • October 27th, 2008mr meanerindian food, LA restaurants, samosa house

    It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Indian cuisine. Growing up in the UK where it is, of course, the national dish has enabled me to be quite discerning when Indian food is placed in front of me. So, I was delighted at the prospect of visiting the Samosa House in Culver City this past weekend to try their extensive vegan selection (they have seven vegan and three vegetarian entrees).

    a samosa with potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, potatoes w/ long beans, bitter melon, spinach tofu and jackfruit.

    a samosa with potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, potatoes w/ long beans, bitter melon, spinach tofu and jackfruit.

    Well, I can tell you that the experience started off really well. The restaurant is deli-style, where orders are placed and served from heated containers right in front of you in a very clean and orderly environment. The service is excellent – the nice man behind the counter described all the dishes, including which were vegan. We could not decide which of the seven to taste, so we ordered them all as two 3-side samplers (with rice and bread) for $7.99 each, and one side (for the odd man out, final entrée: more to come on that).

    The seven dishes were as follows:

    Potatoes: Pretty much as the name suggests – lightly spiced potatoes served dry in no sauce
    Chickpeas: Your common chickpea curry served in a light sauce
    Lentils: Usually my favorite side, lentils served in a dark, creamy sauce, of which more later
    Potatoes with Long Beans: The name says it all – again, not a very saucy dish
    Bitter Melon: Seemed to be small fruits in a tangy sauce. Much more of a condiment than a side, if you ask me
    Spinach Tofu: Creamed spinach and small tofu chunks (although there were al most no tofu chunks in ours)
    Jackfruit: Pure Luck style jackfruit in a dry curry sauce


    We also had a very hearty serving of rice with each sampler (in fact, the rice accounted for around 60% of the volume of each container) and two small chapatti breads. Of course, we couldn’t help but order two of their signature samosas which were wrapped and fried right there. No microwaved samosas wrapped in foil here!

    We ordered the dishes to go, and hightailed it through West LA as fast as we could to get home – largely because carrying Indian food in your car leaves a lingering odor that lasts in direct proportion to how long you carried the food for. Although our journey was only about 20 minutes, I could still smell the curry in my car the following morning — even though we carried it in the trunk!

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  • August 12th, 2008quarrygirlindian food, LA restaurants, paru's

    don’t be scared when you see a ragged building on a shady stretch of sunset blvd. that looks more like a bails bond office than an eatery. after they buzz you through the creepy-looking door, you find yourself in a dimly-lit, cozy indian restaurant, where the waiters are well-dressed and the decorations are traditional. it’s like stumbling into an eerie cave and finding a perfect, warm hideaway. i avoided paru’s vegetarian for ages, and little did i know that i was completely missing out on the loveliest curry house in all of la.

    i can’t wait to return and get a full-on slap-up dinner, because on this particular visit we just opted to split a few sides…all of which were amazing.

    cauliflower with potato $7.95

    cauliflower with potato $7.95

    spinach with lentils $7.95

    spinach with lentils $7.95

    sambar lentil gravy $1.95

    sambar lentil gravy $1.95

    the food at paru’s is a welcome change; much different to the indian food i’m used to eating. you see, i’ve been getting a little fed up with curry restaurants in la. none of them compare to london establishments, and since i have been spoiled by the best curry ever at home, i’ve had no reason to eat it when i’m out. so paru’s is officially the first indian restaurant i’ve been to since i got back from a vacation in the uk…9 months ago.

    and it did not disappoint! paru’s totally redefined curry in my book. while my favorite dishes are usually full of oil and on the very saucy side, paru’s food was very light, a bit dry, but still full of flavor. paru’s really puts it best on their website when they state, “we specialize in the cuisine of South India, where cooks typically use rich spices and aromatic herbs to transform intricate conjurations of vegetables, lentils, and rice into tasty meals that are as fulfilling as they are filling.” i left completely satisfied and feeling energized. yum.

    the cauliflower and potatoes were fantastic, but my favorite dish was the spinach and lentils. it went down perfectly with a side of pulau rice that was littered with peas and carrots. the paratha was also delicious—fluffy and warm, great for scooping up little bits of curry. i didn’t quite know what to expect from the sambar, and what i thought would be a gravy sauce turned out to be more like a vegetable soup. in any case, i loved it. we just passed the dish back and forth and ate it with a spoon until the bowl was dry.

    the best thing about paru’s, for me, is that they are a 100% vegetarian restaurant, and definitely know the meaning of the word vegan. our waiter told us exactly which dishes contained dairy before we even ordered, so we knew just what to avoid. i highly recommend you go and support this place. they sure deserve it…even if their exterior makes me a little uneasy.

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  • as the summer rapidly approaches, it’s handy to have an arsenal of cool, refreshing meals that can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes. enter veganomicon and pete’s tofu to go.

    veganomicon’s corn & edamame sesame salad, atop spinach leaves with asian dressing

    pete’s tofu 2 go ready made tofu, with mango wasabi sauce (and we added in some chili garlic sauce as well)

    so simple to make and ready in minutes, this was the perfect meal for a scorching hot evening spent sitting on the couch with a bottle of wine. there was just enough to satisfy without leaving us full, bloated and feeling guilty.

    more pix after the jump…

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  • May 29th, 2008quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), seattle

    there’s nothing like a really great breakfast scramble, and seattle seems to do it best. cafe flora, in particular, offers up some amazing vegetable scrambles that can be veganized by changing out the eggs for tofu. they even come with a delectable piece of vegan coffee cake!

    spinach scramble: scrambled tofu with organic baby spinach, leeks and caramelized onions with roasted potatoes and coffee cake $11

    grilled asparagus scramble: scrambled tofu with fresh basil pesto and sundried tomatoes with roasted potatoes and coffee cake $11

    cafe flora isn’t the typical kind of scrappy vegan-friendly restaurant i gravitate towards. it’s expensive, has a long list of complicated opening hours, and several different menus depending on the time of day. it’s actually only open for breakfast (or “brunch” as they call it) on saturday and sunday.

    but when they serve the food you see pictured above, that tastes way better than it looks, it’s no surprise that cafe flora was completely full on sunday morning, within ten minutes of opening its doors.

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