25 October 2012

Couva Calypso Cafe

Couva Calypso Cafe is a small Tennessee chain with a tremendous variety of menu items for vegetarian and vegan diners. Service is fast-casual, and prices are inexpensive.

Though the main focus of the cuisine at this restaurant is Caribbean, there are also plenty of Americanized vegetarian options like a veggie burger for less adventurous eaters. Many dishes contain black beans, and the legume makes many appearances in the dining room decor.

The menu consists of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and combo platters built around the ubiquitous black beans. Vegan and vegetarian menu items are identified by symbols.

The nachos come in a massive portion, topped with cheese, black beans, tomatoes, peppers and red onions. While it's a solid starter to share, the barbecue sauce added little to the dish. Salsa would make a more natural accompaniment.

The stand-alone black beans have a smoky essence with hints of garlic and citrus. The St. Lucian rice is a good addition to the Beans and Three platter, an order of beans with three different sides. The mustard greens had a clean flavor that is surprisingly mild. The spiced sweet potatoes are topped with grated coconut, and its sweetness is wrapped up by spicy cinnamon and nutmeg.

Couva Calypso Cafe has a few dessert items, including lime pie, carrot cake and chocolate mint squares. They sell a limited selection of bottled beers.

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17 October 2012

Hillbilly Tea

Hillbilly Tea is a restaurant serving delicious Southern takes on tea house fare. You feel the tongue-in-cheek humor walking through the door, but the food coming out of the kitchen is seriously delicious.

They take great pains selecting fresh ingredients for Chef Arpi Lengyel's kitchen, accompanied by tasty teas. Vegan and vegetarian choices abound on the menu.

There are two levels of seating at Hillbilly Tea. There was live bluegrass on the first floor during Sunday brunch.

Brunch was split about evenly between breakfast and lunch items. Those looking for sweet or savory choices would be equally pleased.

The corn fried tofu with house made barbecue sauce is on the brunch and dinner menus. These are like tofu hush puppies, and they could be eaten by the truckload. The smoky sauce adds punch to this starter.

The vegan forest mushroom burger had nice grill marks, and it was served on a fluffy square bun. The earthy flavor gave the patty a rich base, and the slaw and tomato jam add a sweet contrast.

The biscuits and mushroom gravy were served with a poached egg. The dish's plating was striking.

Other meatless items on the brunch menu include a smoked tofu scramble and cornmeal pancakes with molasses syrup, fruit and smoked butter. There is chicken fried tofu on the dinner menu.

The teas are available hot and cold in a variety of blends and varietal selections. Hillbilly Tea also has a full bar that serves tea-infused vodka.  

Service was quick and friendly. The menu takes much of the guesswork out of vegan and vegetarian menu items, but the server still made excellent recommendations.

Hillbilly Tea on Urbanspoon

16 October 2012

Joe Davola's

Joe Davola's is a low-key Louisville deli located in the Germantown neighborhood. House-made ingredients star at the restaurant, which makes excellent accommodations for vegetarian and vegan diners.

The staff was friendly and helpful. Prices are inexpensive. The decor has subtle Seinfeld elements throughout, and the television shows Seinfeld episodes.

Sandwiches are prepared on wheatberry bread or in a spinach wrap. The thick slices of bread do a great job containing the violent veggie meatloaf, a vegan patty made with textured vegetable protein and sauteed veggies with a texture good enough to feel meat eaters into ordering it. The sandwich is topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, tomato sauce and horseradish mayo. It tastes like grandma's meatloaf if grandma was a granola-eating hippie from Berkeley.

Joe Davola's has a vegetarian soup daily. It was cream of cauliflower when I visited. The soup was a little too course, and it lacked a little seasoning. The house croutons add a nice crunch and flavor to the soup.

There are plenty of salads available in small and large sizes, and as part of a combo. One of the more clever names was I-Art-i-choke-ya, an artichoke salad with plenty of Greek accents.

The chocolate chip cookies were warm and chewy right out of the oven, and they became more crunchy as they cooled. I was a nice conclusion to the meal.

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