Monday, May 18, 2015

Road Trip! The Dancing Fox Winery in Lodi

A few weeks ago, my husband Phil and I took a drive down to Lodi to see the Seward Johnson sculptures that will be on display there until mid-July. They include sculptures of iconic American images, such as Marilyn Monroe with her white dress blowing up in the breeze, and sculptures of every-day people, like a woman reading on a bench. If you haven't seen them yet, they're definitely worth the trip.






We stopped in at the charming Dancing Fox Winery for lunch. They had a few items on the menu that were vegan or looked like they could easily be made vegan. I started with the Mediterranean Hummus plate, a very flavorful, slightly spicy hummus served with tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, and crackers. Loved it!




I also ordered the cranberry walnut salad without the feta cheese. It consisted of mixed greens and Romaine lettuce, dried cranberries, and candied walnuts, tossed with a cranberry vinaigrette. It was very good!




Other items I'd like to try during future visits to the Dancing Fox Winery include the Tofu Scramble they serve for breakfast, the house-made Veggie Burger (without the aioli), and the Tempeh Tacos offered on their dinner menu.


The Dancing Fox Winery is located at 203 South School Street in Lodi, and their phone number is 209-366-2634. The website address is http://www.dancingfoxwinery.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/dancingfoxwinery/timeline. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.



The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 4, 2015

Esquire Grill

My husband Phil and I had dinner at the Esquire Grill on K Street last night. I used to check their menu periodically to see if there were any vegan items, and it didn't seem as though there ever were. A recent look at Esquire Grill's website, though, turned up two vegan options.


I started with the Wood-Fired Castroville Artichoke Hearts appetizer, a delicious dish with an interesting combination of tastes. The artichoke hearts are garnished with toasted Marcona almonds and charred navel oranges, then served with a black olive vinaigrette. I'd tried this dish on a previous visit to the restaurant, and I liked it just as much the second time.




Next, I had the other vegan item on the menu, the Farro & Arugula Salad, which includes asparagus, red onion, walnuts, pea shoots, lemon, and olive oil, in addition to the farro and arugula. It's listed on the menu as a "small salad," but as far as I was concerned, this hearty dish was big enough for an entrée.




One other dish I've had previously at the Esquire Grill, was the tasty Roasted Beet Salad, with Cara Cara oranges, avocado, and pickled beets. I veganized it by having the chef leave off the creme fraiche. Sorry, I guess I didn't take a photo of it.


Esquire Grill is located at 1213 K Street, and their phone number is 916-448-8900. The website address is http://www.paragarys.com/sacramento-restaurants/esquire-grill/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/EsquireGrill?fref=ts. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and for dinner Monday through Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.



Esquire Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thai House

I've shopped at Loehmann's Plaza for years, but until this weekend, I'd never eaten at Thai House, which is located on the Munroe Street side of the shopping center. To remedy that situation, my husband Phil and I had dinner there Saturday night.


It was fairly busy, with people dining in the restaurant as well as waiting for food to go, which is usually a good sign. I asked whether the sauces used in the Gang-Pak (Vegetable Curry) contained fish sauce, and I was told they did not. In Thai restaurants, I've found that it's always best to specify that you don't want fish sauce, regardless of what dish you order.


The curry sounded good, but I decided to order the Pad-Ped-Maklu-Ah (Spicy Eggplant) with tofu instead. It consisted of Japanese purple eggplant, bell pepper, tofu, and Thai basil in a spicy red curry sauce, and it was excellent. I could see why the restaurant is so popular, and I'll definitely go back again.




Thai House is located at 527 Munroe Street, and their phone number is 916-485-3888. Their website address is http://www.sacthaihouse.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thai-House-Restaurant/120494254632874?fref=ts. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and on Saturday from noon to 2:30 p.m. They are open for dinner every night from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.



Thai House on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 20, 2015

IKEA

I love my occasional visits to IKEA, where they sell so much cool stuff. But I'm always sad when I stop in at the store's restaurant after all that shopping and find nothing vegan on the hot food menu. That all changed this month with IKEA's introduction of Grönsaksbullar vegetable balls, vegan "meatballs" made of chickpeas, green peas, carrots, corn, kale, and red bell peppers. IKEA had originally intended to offer "meatballs" that were only vegetarian, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was able to convince them to leave out all animal-based ingredients.


I stopped in at IKEA in West Sacramento over the weekend to see if they were available yet. Sure enough, a sign over the hot food section said "Vegetable Balls." I waited in line, noticing that there was also an asparagus salad that appeared to be vegan, but I held out for the vegetable balls. They were served ten to the plate in a sweet potato and cauliflower sauce, along with mixed vegetables consisting of squash, eggplant, and red bell pepper. A smaller serving is available on their kids' menu.




The veggie balls were actually pretty tasty, especially with the delicious sauce. They weren't a nondescript brown mass like most meatballs are (vegan or otherwise), but had whole peas, corn kernels, and other vegetable bits rolled into them. I ate every bite. Now if they'd only start serving a vegan dessert!

Eventually, IKEA will offer these Grönsaksbullar in their frozen food section, but they didn't have them yet when I was there. I don't know if they'll sell that wonderful sweet potato and cauliflower sauce to go with them or not.

More information about IKEA's restaurant is available at http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/food/.



Ikea Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2015

Vegan in Gualala



My husband Phil and I took a drive up the coast and spent the weekend in beautiful Gualala. I wasn't able to find out much before we left about whether I'd have any trouble finding vegan options there, so I took along some bananas and a couple of breakfast items and hoped for the best.


We arrived in Gualala at around 7:00 p.m., just in time for dinner. There was a restaurant called Trinks Cafe right by our hotel, so we decided to check it out. Apparently, their menu changes daily, but we were fortunate to be there on a night when they were offering a quinoa and black bean burger, which was vegan if the cheese and mayonnaise were omitted. With a generous portion of avocado and a spicy slaw on top, it was a pretty tasty burger!




We went back to Trinks Cafe for breakfast the next morning. I had this hearty bowl of steel-cut oats with walnuts and chopped apples, and the chef substituted soy milk for the cream that usually goes in this dish.




After breakfast, we drove farther up the coast, hoping to see some whales. We didn't, but it was a beautiful drive anyhow. For lunch, we stopped in at the very vegan-friendly Thai Kitchen in Anchor Bay Village. The menu includes a note indicating that many of their items can be made vegan, and the server was very knowledgeable about vegan concerns. I ordered this wonderful bowl of pad broccoli with tofu and added ginger and ate every bite.




For dinner, we went to St. Orres, a gorgeous hotel and Zagat-rated restaurant that has a Russian look to it. I had checked the menu ahead of time and it didn't have anything vegan or anything that looked capable of being made vegan, but there was a notation that they could accommodate any dietary restriction or requirement. When I called to make our reservation, I let the staff know I was vegan, and then waited to see what they'd have for me to eat.




All of the dinners at St. Orres come with soup and salad. The server brought me a bowl of butternut squash soup without the cream that was included in the soup for the other diners. It was delicious!




My salad was a simple but refreshing mixed green salad, with cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette.




For my entrée, the server brought me this beautifully-prepared mixture of vegetables: various types of squash, carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, and spinach.




Since there was a vegan dessert on their regular menu, I couldn't pass it up. This fresh lemon sorbet with blackberries was the perfect way to top off this elegant meal.




I think it's safe to say my weekend in Gualala was a huge vegan success!