Monday, October 27, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant



I had dinner at Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant tonight, a restaurant I'd never visited before. One of my favorite things about the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge is that it provides me with the opportunity and the encouragement to try new restaurants.


The Challenge menu at Abyssinia lists several vegan options. I was reading the list and trying to figure out how I was going to decide what to eat when I came across these magic words: Combination Platter. That made ordering much easier. Eating all the food that appeared on the platter was another problem entirely, but it means I'll have leftovers for a couple of days, at least.


The Combination Platter begins with a plate-sized piece of injera, a sour spongy bread, and the other items are served on top of it. Clockwise, starting at the top of the picture, are Duba Wot, a very spicy pumpkin stew; Abeba Gomen, steamed cauliflower with bell pepper and onions; Kayser & Fosolia, a mix of beets, green beans, carrots, potatoes, and onions; Alicha Miser Be-Dinich, slow-cooked lentils with potatoes; and in the center, Abyssinia's Cabbage Salad. Two more large pieces of injera were served on the side, and I used those as utensils to scoop up my food. It was a very satisfying meal!


Abyssinia is vegan-friendly all the time, serving a vegan lunch buffet Monday through Friday, and offering several vegan items on their regular menu.


Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant is located at 1346 Fulton Avenue, and their phone number is 916-481-1580. I wasn't able to find a website for them, but their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/AbyssiniaEthiopianRestaurant. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 9:00 p.m.



Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- 58 Degrees & Holding Co.

I had a great time Friday night with my friends Bonnie and Cathie at 58 Degrees & Holding Co. This restaurant participates in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge every year, and I was eager to see what Chef F.J. had created for this year's Challenge.


My first course was this tasty Warm Fennel and Mushrooms dish, served in a soy milk mushroom bisque. The menu says it comes with a truffled cracker, although one didn't come with mine. I always think that Chef F.J.'s dishes are beautifully presented, and this one was no exception.




The entrée was Roasted Taro and Tofu, consisting of tofu squares in a lemongrass coconut béchamel sauce topped with caramelized squash, bell peppers, and roasted taro cubes, and garnished with crispy rice. This lovely dish was pleasing to both the palate and the eye!




My favorite part of this meal was the incredible dessert -- Montana Huckleberry Cake. There were little chunks of rice milk cake served with huckleberries, agave-sweetened granola, and chocolate sauce. My friends and I split one dessert among the three of us, but I think we secretly wished we'd each ordered one of our own!




58 Degrees & Holding Co. is located at 1217 18th Street, and their phone number is 916-442-5858. Their website address is http://www.58degrees.com, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/58-Degrees-Holding-Co/361925419790. The restaurant is open Monday and Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. They are closed on Tuesdays.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Pizza Rock

My son Zack took me to Pizza Rock for lunch on Thursday so I could check out their Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu, which includes several lunch, dinner, and brunch items. I know when a person goes to a pizza parlor, it's expected that they'll order the pizza, but since several local vegans had already posted beautiful pictures of the vegan pizza that Pizza Rock is serving up this month, I decided to try some of the other items on the Challenge menu.


I started with the 3 Bean Balela Salad, a tasty mixture of garbanzos, black beans, kidney beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, mango, and mint, tossed with a serrano citrus dressing. Such a beautiful, colorful salad!




I followed up the salad with a nice hot bowl of Hearty Vegan Chili, made with kidney beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, green beans, peppers, onions, and dark chili tofu. Since it's finally starting to feel like fall, this spicy bowl of chili was just the comfort food I needed.




I was really glad I saved room for dessert, an incredible Vegan Tiramisu. I haven't had tiramisu since I went vegan, since it's one of those dishes that's usually chock full of non-vegan ingredients. Somehow, the chef at Pizza Rock managed to create a delicious vegan version of this fabulous dessert. According to the description on the menu, it's made of "house-made lady fingers dipped in chilled coffee and layered with house-made vegan sour cream and cream cheese, organic cornstarch, vanilla and organic powdered sugar, cocoa powder and chocolate shavings." Amazing!




This was actually my second trip to Pizza Rock this month. The first week of the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, I went there to try the Vegan Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. The menu gives the option of a small, medium, or large order of pancakes. I opted for a medium order, which turned out to be four enormous pancakes. They were delicious, but I couldn't even eat half of them in one sitting. I took the leftovers home with me and discovered that they were just as good reheated. I managed to stretch that one order of pancakes into three breakfasts! I noticed later that a few pictures on the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge Facebook page showed these pancakes served with fresh fruit. Mine didn't come with fruit, and apparently if you want them that way, you need to order them "ambrosia-style." Either way, you're in for a treat!




Pizza Rock is located at 1020 K Street, and their phone number is 916-737-5777. Their website address is http://pizzarocksacramento.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/PizzaRockSacramento. The restaurant is open Monday and Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Capital Dime

I finally made it to Capital Dime last night with my husband and son so I could check out the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu. I'd been reading great comments on Facebook about the vegan raviolis, and I was eager to try them.


First things first, though. The appetizer offered on the fixed price Challenge menu was an order of Sweet Potato Hush Puppies served with a sweet chili sauce. I'm one of those people who likes almost any kind of fried dough, but these hush puppies were especially good, and the sweet chili sauce was the perfect accompaniment.




Next came the ravioli I'd heard so much about, with a filling of mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and a "ricotta" made from tofu and cashews, and a coconut tomato basil sauce. These excellent raviolis certainly lived up to all the hype!




By the time I polished off the first two menu items, I was almost too full for dessert, but couldn't possibly pass up this ice cream sandwich: two delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies and a filling of chocolate avocado ice cream, drizzled with chocolate and garnished with slivered almonds. So good!




Capital Dime is always vegan-friendly, so be sure to check it out even after the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge ends. The next time I'm there, I'm planning to try their vegan jambalaya.


Capital Dime is located at 1801 L Street, and their phone number is 443-1010. Their website address is http://www.capitaldime.com/ and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CapitalDime. The restaurant is open Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge is available only for dinner, which starts at about 5:00 every evening.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Broderick Roadhouse

I stopped in for lunch today at Broderick Roadhouse in West Sacramento, which is taking part in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge for the first time. Unlike most of the participating restaurants, Broderick Roadhouse is not offering a multi-course vegan menu. Instead, they are offering one vegan special that's available all day, so I didn't have to make any hard decisions when I ordered my food.


The Challenge special is an order of three Dragon Oyster Mushroom Tacos. The tacos also include carmelized onions, pickled peppers, avocado puree, mixed greens, and corn salsa. Come to think of it, I don't think the corn salsa was included in my tacos, but they were very tasty nonetheless, especially when dribbled with a little of their special hot sauce.




Broderick Roadhouse is always vegan-friendly, so even after the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge is over, you'll find a lot to like on their menu. For lunch or dinner, they offer a veggie burger, a barbecue tofu sandwich, a vegan pasta and "cheese" dish, and, my personal favorite, a no egg salad sandwich. Their weekend brunch menu includes a vegan tofu scramble.


Broderick Roadhouse is located in West Sacramento at 319 Sixth Street, and their phone number is 916-372-2436. Their website address is http://www.broderick1893.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Broderick1893. The restaurant is open Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co.

With less than two weeks to go in this year's Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, I'm scrambling to get to all the participating restaurants I haven't visited yet. Sunday night, my husband and I headed over to Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co., where a three-course fixed price Challenge meal is being offered.


I knew that a two-for-$40 Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge special with wine pairings was offered on Sunday nights, but I didn't realize that meant it was not possible to order the Challenge menu for just one person. Fortunately, my non-vegan husband was willing to share the two-for-$40 vegan special with me. If you're planning on dining alone or with someone who is not going to want the vegan menu, you may want to find somewhere else to eat on the remaining Sunday night this month. It is my understanding that on nights other than Sundays, the Challenge menu is offered at Hook & Ladder for $28.00 per person, but does not include the wine pairings.


Since the meal is apportioned for two people on Sunday nights, each course comes to the table on one plate, and each person dishes up however much they want from that plate. The first course on the Challenge menu is the End of Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad. In addition to the delicious tomatoes, this beautiful salad includes roasted corn, English cucumber, baby kale, and grilled tofu.




The entrée was an excellent Roasted Kabocha Squash Risotto, which was garnished with sautéed baby squashes, rainbow chard, crimini mushrooms, and toasted pine nuts. This was a very satisfying dish, and perfect for fall.




The dessert was a delicious Blackberry Apple Tarte Tatin. It was very rich and sweet, and just the right size for two people to share.




Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. is located at 1630 S Street, and their phone number is 916-442-4885. Their website address is http://hookandladder916.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/HookandLadderSacramento. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Lou's Sushi

I had lunch with my friend Melissa today at Lou's Sushi, which is participating for the first time this year in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge. I was pleasantly surprised to see several different items offered on their Challenge menu.


We ordered the Tofu and Grilled Asparagus Salad to share, squares of soft tofu and perfectly cooked asparagus served in a slightly sweet sauce and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. It was a very simple salad, but we both really enjoyed it. I hope they keep it on the menu after the Challenge ends.




For my entrée, I ordered the Veggie OMFG roll, without onions and with a soy wrapper instead of seaweed. This delicious dish was a daikon and oyster mushroom roll with avocado and grilled asparagus, garnished with a spicy garlic "mayo." The flavors went well together, and I liked the slight spiciness. It also looked beautiful on the plate.




I'm not used to having dessert in sushi restaurants, but a special dessert of Tempura Strawberries had been created for the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, so Melissa and I decided to give it a try. We loved it -- ripe strawberries in a sweet tempura batter with a mint-infused coconut milk dipping sauce. It was the perfect way to end a very satisfying lunch.




In addition to these items, the Challenge menu at Lou's Sushi includes two other salads, two appetizers, and three other types of rolls.


Lou's Sushi is located at 2801 P Street, and their phone number is 916-451-4700. Their website address is http://www.lousushi.com/ and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/LouSushi. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.