Just beyond the casual seating area that greets you when you enter is the deli case where you place your order. And beyond the deli case is a well stocked (for a small) grocery carrying produce, refrigerated and frozen goods, basics and higher end products.
The veggie grilled beef hoagie is filled with warm soy strips, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, fried mushrooms, and roasted peppers, and your choice of sauce. We'll know not to go with the sweet and tangy sauce next time — too sweet.
Vegetarian chicken salad sandwich lacked the little bits of zip I prefer in chicken salad (usually provided by grapes or pickles), but the generous portion and whole grain Metropolitan bread made up for it.
Don't know why, but Philly doesn't like faux meat breakfast products — I rarely see them at restaurants — but Citi MarketPlace will hit you up if that's what you want. This veggie sausage (tasted like a Morningstar product), egg and cheese sandwich on a Metropolitan multi-grain roll hit the spot, and is just the sort of geez-this-is-such-an-easy-substitution thing I'd love to see around town more often.
While we weren't blown away by either of the two lunch sandwiches we tried, with many more sandwiches to chomp through, there might be another favorite in the bunch besides the breakfast sausage sandwich.
1318 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
I shouldn't have waited so long to visit Kanella. The food is simple, but stunningly fresh and flavorful.
Reservations are recommend, as the rest of the city is already hip to the heavenly food flowing from Kanella's kitchen. We went for a packed weekend brunch, and even with a reservation we had to wait about fifteen minutes. Not bad considering some weekend brunch waits.
Asterisks are next to menu items that can be made vegetarian, but if you see a dish without an asterisk that piques your interest and seems like an easy dish to omit meat (don't make the kitchen staff crazy, y'all), just ask. That's how we ended up with the Cypress Breakfast.
Each componet of the Cypress Breakfast is so simple, but combined makes for a lovely meal: salty and crispy fried Halloumi, whole grain bread, eggs fried in olive oil and herbs, and grilled tomato and fresh vegetables standing in for lounza (ham). A little bit of everything that is good.
The Malohwa breakfast plate stars a Yemenese pan-fried buttery puff pasty accompanied by the thickest Greek yogurt you've ever had, a spicy tomato and onion salad, and a boiled egg. It doesn't look like much, but the flavors are fabulous.
To end breakfast, we got a bowl of warm rice pudding sparingly sweetened, gently spiced with cinnamon and cardamom, and topped with a candied and spiced orange slice. Perfection.
Three veteran diners from New York City were also at our table and their undocumented meat dishes also received the highest of praises.
Simple. Fresh. Flavorful. Isn't it crazy that food so basic can knock your socks off? Less is more.
1001 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
Breakfast/Lunch: Thurs & Fri, 11:30am-3pm; Sat & Sun, 10am-3pm
Dinner: Tues-Thurs, 5-10pm; Fri & Sat, 5-10:30pm
Unless you live in or grew up in South Carolina, you're probably unaware of the state's prominent rice culture. And you've probably never heard of chicken bog, either.
The state's rice culture stems from the fact that state was once a large rice producer. The coastal region has ideal rice growing conditions, and slaves from West Africa were specifically sought out for their rice-growing knowledge and expertise.
Everyone eats rice...all the time. It's not uncommon to have rice at every supper. Plain rice, rice pilau, rice with hash, rice with stewed tomatoes and okra, rice with giblet gravy, and on and on. It's one of my favorite foods and I never tire of it.
So, what is chicken bog? It's nothing but a big ol' peppery pot of rice, chicken, and sausage cooked in chicken stock. Why is it called a bog? Because the rice is a bit wetter — boggy — than a pilau. This dish is great for gatherings because it feeds many. Sub turkey for chicken, and you've got a dish perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers. Chicken Bog
To the ire of many (Hi, Dad!), I'm vegetarianizing the recipe. If you want to use meat, it's as simple as cooking chicken in water, saving the water to use as the stock, and deboning the chicken before throwing the chicken meat back in the pot. Also, use real sausage.
This recipe is based on my Granddad's recipe. Granddad was an avid beer drinker, so beer found it's way into many of his dishes. Beer is not a traditional ingredient in chicken bog, but I'm keeping the recipe true to my Granddad (well, except the whole meat thing).
1/2 stick butter
1 cup diced onion
1 pound seitan, chopped
1 pound link soy sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
2 cups uncooked rice
5 cups water
1/2 can beer
- Saute diced onions in butter until onions are translucent. Then add seitan, sausage, salt and pepper and cook for a coupe minutes.
- Add rice, water, and beer to the pot. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Cook until the rice is done, about 20-30 minutes. If mixture is too juicy, cook uncovered until reaches desired consistency. If mixture is too dry (rice absorbed all the water), add another cup of water.
Than, almost instantly, the seemingly calm fast-food-with-a-conscience strip mall joint in Wynnewood, a western suburb of Philly, filled with 3 kids per 1 adult, and I might as well have been eating at Chuck E Cheese.
"Hey, Dad! Hey, Dad! Hey, Dad! Hey, Dad!"
Am I the only one that hears this desperate little girl shouting across the room? Dad sure doesn't.
"Cody, you cannot punch Jason is the back," said a frustrated mom pulling her child off the boy's friend.
"But he called me stupid," he pathetically whined.
A boy with brains eaten by a zombie trips over my foot on his sixth visit to the trash can.
Apparently, the hormone-free, grass-raised, and free-range beef; fried-in-olive-oil fries; and organic and transfat-free ingredients at the environmentally and sustainably built Elevation Burger is the new guilt-free McDonalds for Main Line suburban parents.
My suggestion to those without children or the ability to tune out chaos is to eat at Elevation Burger on Tuesday at 2:16 pm.
Your order is brought to the table in a rectangular metal tray by a smiling employee. Olive oil-fried shoestring fries are light and crispy. With a ratio of more short and nubbin-length fries to long fries, the fry grabbing looks desperate and labored before you hit the end.With a choice of chocolate, vanilla, or coffee ice cream and Oreo cookies, chocolate syrup and a handful of fruit add-ins, and no pre-conceived specialty shakes to order, you're the milkshake master at Elevation Burger. Above is chocolate ice cream with real strawberries blended in. Thick and creamy, the spoon is more helpful than the fat straw.
There are two veggie burgers on Elevation Burger's menu. One is vegan (#2) and one is not (#1). This is clearly marked on the large wall-hanging menu behind the counter. There is also a laminated paper in front of the register listing all the ingredients in the two veggie burgers for those who need the full info. Unfortunately, these ingredients are not listed on their website.
All veggie burgers are cooked on a different grill than the meat burgers. My astute and friendly (they really are friendly) order-taker noted when I ordered caramelized onions on my veggie burger that the caramelized onions are cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers, but in a separate section, in case I cared.
Above is the vegan Veggie #2 with lettuce, tomatoes, Elevation sauce (a faintly tangy mayo and ketchup-based sauce that's not vegan), pickles, and caramelized onions on a soft bun.
Unlike burgers from McDonalds or Burger King that seem to be run over by a steam roller between construction and landing in your hands, the buns on an Elevation Burger are still fluffy upon arrival.
The #2 Veggie patty is the preformed and frozen kind. Chock full of whole grains and vegetables, the touted "tastes like veggies" #2...tastes like veggies. A little longer on the grill to crisp the edges would have been a nice touch.
The non-vegan Veggie #1 has a mix of cheeses in the frozen and preformed "fire roasted" grain and vegetable patty. The cheese and roasted flavor of the patty tasted less "clean" than the Veggie #2, but did not taste better or worse, in my opinion. They're both frozen veggie burgers slapped on a grill, nothing more or less. I do appreciate the whole grains and vegetables in both patties far more than a ground brown mash of soy protein.
Good on Elevation Burger for offering more health and environmentally conscious fast food burgers (and veggie burgers) to burb-bound families on the go, but unless I were running an errand in the same strip mall Elevation Burger is located in (I was), I'm not sure it's worth a trip to the burbs for vegetarians. Check your freezer for a veggie patty first.
50 East Wynnewood Rd., Philadelphia, PA 19096
Behind the long glass facade of Midatlantic is an open and modern restaurant with a rustic reclaimed wood wall behind a shiny steel bar and open kitchen. Sliding steel wall panels at one end of the room create a small private dining area, or can be pushed back to make the room even larger.
An outside patio area is equipped with a long, eye-catching caged box of flames which would be pleasant on cool spring and autumn nights, but no one dared dream of stepping outside this evening with temps in the 20's.
Feeling I should stick with Pennsylvania specialties, I started with the pretzel and Welsch rarebit fondue (PA Dutch meets British, I guess). Expecting the iconic pretzel twist, I was surprised by the long, dense, pretzel with hints of rye. Pretzels come in all shapes, I know, but I'll offer that turd-shaped is not the best presentation. The beer-infused cheddar cheese fondue was thick and pasty with a hard broiled cheese skin. Tasty enough and certainly a generous portion, the pretzel and fondue could use a little refinement to suit the casual fine dining atmosphere.
A veggie version of scrapple is offered on Midatlantic's menu along with pig, crab, and chicken versions of scrapple. All scrapple types come as a sandwich with a side of fries or salad.
Midatlantic's veggie scrapple is a mixture of vegetables, kasha, buckwheat, and oatmeal formed into a patty. Even with a crispy fried outside, the thick patty was mostly mush with a texture, thanks to the substitution of other grains for scrapple's traditional cornmeal, no where close to scrapple. Flavor was also far away from the traditional sage-heavy scrapple. Midatlantic's veggie scrapple is nothing but a grain and veggie burger with zero resemblance to srapple.
So...it turns out Midatlantic does have a veggie burger!
Now, before you comment, I know what you're thinking: I have no room to comment on scrapple since I'm vegetarian. I will counter that I have eaten livermush (the South's equivalent of scrapple), and I have eaten Vrapple, the outstanding vegan scrapple that out-competed all but one pork scrapple in 2009's Scrapplefest.
To end on a bright note, the accompanying Farmhouse salad (minus the summer sausage) was excellent. A wedge of butterhead lettuce with an inspired mix of fresh and pickled carrots, green beans, wax beans, and pearl onion dressed in a light buttermilk dressing was a much better choice that the overly fried, dark brown potato cubes that accompanied the burgers of my fellow diners.
With mostly salads, pickles, and sides left for this vegetarian to sample, if in the rare event I find myself on the other side of the river and at Midatlantic it will probably be for drinks and a nibble, not dinner.
3711 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat, 5-11pm
Snacks: until midnight
Instead of thinking of tofu or seitan as meat substitutes, it'd be much more open-minded of you to think of them as real food. Because that's what they are. If you can't, that's fine.
This post is more of a reference for me, because I plan on making this roast frequently. This year, I'd like to get away from buying Tofurky slices and make my own soy-seitan roasts. I managed to bake my own bread last year (except maybe three store-bought loaves), which is quite a feat considering I go through a loaf a week packing sandwiches for work every day. Now I just need to make my own sandwich innards.
This really is my favorite homemade seitan, partly because it's not really seitan. Seitan I make at home is a bit too chewy and dense (I've tried many recipes), but this recipe combines tofu, wheat gluten, and chickpea flour to make a loaf that is somewhere between the dense texture of seitan and the squishy texture of tofu.
The original recipe from Bryanna is a jumbled mess on her website, and the notes I took and posted a few years ago about my experience and alterations didn't include a written recipe, so I'm constantly clicking between the two pages in frustration. No more!
Update 11/17/10: I was recently contacted by Bryanna Clark Grogen, who requested I reiterate that the recipe posted here is an adaptation of the original recipe she had posted on her site, specifically, that my cooking directions and techniques are different than hers. If you are curious as how I came about my cooking procedure, you can check out my previous post where I discuss my experiences with the recipe.
Soy and Seitan Roast
makes 1 big honkin' loaf or 2 bread-pan-sized loaves
The recipe is as simple as mixing dry ingredients with wet ingredients to make a dough, then baking the dough in a basting liquid.
Seasonings can be adjusted to preferences, or switched out for others. Maybe maple syrup, sage, and liquid smoke for something breakfast-y next time? These freeze well, too.
2 cups gluten flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.Wet Ingredients
15 ounces firm tofu, broken into smaller pieces
1 1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
- Place all wet ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and stir until incorporated.
- Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes.
- Let dough rest for 1 hour.
- Shape dough into a loaf (one large flat-ish loaf or multiple smaller loaves), and place loaf in a baking dish with plenty of room to accommodate basting liquid.
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves crushed garlic
1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
- Combine all ingredients for the basting broth in a bowl.Baking Instructions
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper, than place shaped loaf in pan. Pour basting liquid over the dough in the baking dish.
- Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Remove dish from oven, and if there is still a lot of basting liquid left in the pan, dump out all but just a little bit of the liquid.
- Carefully flip the roast with the help of a spatula or two. Flipping the roast allows what was once the bottom of the roast to brown.
- Place the roast back in the oven, and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately, or let roast cool. When roast is completely cooled, it can be wrapped in foil and frozen for later use.
Seating is tight at Zavino's window tables and serpentine marble bar, so go during off hours or before the rush. While the owner is pleasant in assisting both customers and servers, his added body in the already cramped interior is unneeded. With a corner location there are sure to be sidewalk tables added when the weather warms up, which may alleviate the crush.
Similar to Stella, Starr's new Pizzaria off South St., Zavino's menu is small and focused with small plates of antipasta, cheese, cured meats, salads, and vegetables. Zavino also features some larger entree specials.
And, of course, there are the pizzas. The pizza oven at Zavino is gas with fruit woods tossed in, but still kicks out a crispy pizza with nice blistering. Four out of seven of Zavino's 12-inch pizzas (all priced $8-$13) are vegetarian.
The roasted butternut squash at only $5 still seemed a little skimpy for what it was - 5 or so cold slices of sweet balsamic glazed roasted squash topped with a smattering of arugula and three shavings of Pecorino. I don't see them pricing this dish at $3 or $4, so...here's where they make some moolah. Tasty enough starter, though.Mushrooms are a favorite pizza topping of mine, so we choose The Kennett with bechemel, Claudio's Mozzarella, roasted onions, and a mix of oyster, crimini and shiitake mushrooms.
Ooh, bechemel sauce on pizza is so good. At first I was hoping for a little more onion/herb/garlic pop, but then, thinking back on all the mushroom soups I've eaten when I lived in Kennett Square (the pizza's namesake and source of the mushrooms), the creamy and mildly musty pizza captured those soups perfectly.
Compared to Stella's pizza, I found Zavio's pizza a smidge thicker (but by no means thick-crusted), a little crispier and not suffering as much from droop when a slice was picked up. I would not be able to declare a winner between Stella and Zavino without having pies from both pizzarias in front of me, and even then I think it would be a draw, not to mention completely useless unless you're a pizza übersnob. Nothing wrong with having good pizza in two different parts of town.
For some, this is all you need to know: you're far less likely to dine amongst families with children at Zavino than you are at Stella.
A slice of chocolate pear cake (picture was so poor it wasn't worth including) in a pool of chocolate sauce and topped with a dense whipped cream was fine, but nothing to write home about. Before ordering dessert, remember that some of the best gelato in the country is right across the street at Capogiro.
112 S. 13th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
Specializing in takoyaki, a popular Japanese street food of bite-sized dumpling balls fried in special molds and topped with various sauces, Maru Global should be open for business in about a week. (Feb. 1st opening got pushed back.) is open today!
Even without ever tasting takoyaki, I was poised to pounce when they opened, so was pleased when Maru Global offered a focus group taste test this weekend to get feedback from the public. I signed up for the vegan seating.
Takoyaki batter is traditionally made with egg, but the owners of Maru Global make a slightly costlier vegan batter upon request (this is clearly printed on the menu). Tofu is a protein choice for many dishes, and baked goods from Vegan Treats are also available. Maru Global is clearly vegan and vegetarian friendly.
The vegan takoyaki pizza balls filled with vegan Mozarella and topped with tomato sauce and basil coulis taste like a grown-up version of Pizza Rolls. Soft, warm dough encases melted vegan Mozzarella, while sweet tomato sauce and vibrant basil coulis steals the show.
A steaming bowl of shiitake soup studded with onions, mushrooms, and vegetables swimming in a delicious and complex broth flirting with the edge of sweetness was simple, but outstanding.
Red bean rice is a simple side consisting of nothing more than sweet sticky rice and azuki beans. The sweetness of the rice may throw Westerners, as the dish is almost dessert-like. A rice bowl with firm fried tofu, shirataki noodles, and carrots with a thin, non-salt-assaulting soy sauce is a perfect meal in a cup. I could eat this everyday and be happy. If you are a rice lover like I am, you'll appreciate the short-grain glutinous rice used in the rice bowls and elsewhere on the menu.
Most people will flock to Maru Global for the takoyaki, but don't discount the rest of the menu which also includes yakisoba, salads, and fries. Dishes are well under $10, and bento boxes and meal combinations will only set you back $8-$12. Very reasonable.
Reflecting their concentration on take-out and delivery, Maru Global's atmosphere is extremely casual. There are about six or so two-top tables for dining in, if you so please.
255 S. 10th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107267-273-0567