Monday, October 31, 2011

Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe

UPDATE: Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe changed owners and is now called the Plum Cafe. It is still completely vegan. Information about the baked goods that were sold at this restaurant under the previous ownership can be found at

I visited my last restaurant in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge this weekend -- Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe, which, of course, is all vegan, all the time.  The entree they created specifically for the challenge is a black bean and  corn enchilada plate, which consisted of whole wheat tortillas wrapped around a black bean and corn filling, then topped with Daiya vegan cheese, pico de gallo, and avocado slices.  A salad of mixed greens was served with the three enchiladas.  This is a very heavy meal, so you may want to split it with a friend or wait to order it until you've got a really big appetite.

As always, my favorite part of any meal at Sugar Plum is the dessert.  Their display case always contains at least a dozen things I want to try, and this visit was no exception.  After agonizing over all of the vegan cookies, cupcakes, whoopie pies, and other tempting baked goods, I finally decided to go with a slice of their pumpkin pie, which was delicious.

Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe is located at 2315 K Street.  Their phone number is 916-706-3302, and their website address is  They also list their daily menu on their Facebook page, which can be found at  Sugar Plum is open Tuesday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  The restaurant is closed on Monday.

Friday, October 28, 2011


As I mentioned yesterday, I'm scrambling to finish visiting all of the restaurants that are participating in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge before the challenge ends Monday.  So tonight, I headed over to Kru and managed to snag the very last stool at the end of the sushi bar.

I have to admit that I was dreading my visit to this particular restaurant because I was convinced that I didn't like sushi.  I didn't eat it before I went vegan, and I really haven't liked the vegetarian sushi I've tried since becoming a vegan.  And I don't like seaweed! 

But I wasn't going to be able to write about Kru for this blog if I didn't check it out, so I ordered the Marinated and Grilled Shiitake Mushroom Nigiri and the Go Green Roll, and settled in with a lovely glass of Chardonnay.

When the food came out, I discovered that I still don't like seaweed, but I loved every other thing about my visit to Kru.  It's a very friendly, very high energy restaurant, and I enjoyed sitting at the sushi bar watching Chef Billy Ngo work his magic.  I can understand why Kru is the restaurant where other chefs come to eat!

The mushrooms in my Marinated and Grilled Shiitake Mushroom Nigiri seemed to alternate between a smoky taste and a light teriyaki flavor.  They were served over rice in two little bundles that were held together with a strip of seaweed.  Very tasty!

The Go Green Roll was especially creative.  It was made with grilled green and yellow wax beans, Granny Smith apples, and cucumber, and topped with avocado, beet and radish sprouts, and miso mustard sauce.  The creamy avocado was a nice contrast to the crunchy beans, apple, and cucumber.  And it looked beautiful on the plate!

They also had a salad on their Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu, which I didn't try.  It's a Crispy Burdock Root Salad, with mixed organic greens and kimchee ponzu.

Kru didn't have a vegan dessert on their menu, but the server said they could put together some fruit for me and I took her up on the offer.  The bowl of strawberries, blackberries, grapefruit wedges, and green apples slices she brought to me was exactly the right thing to top off my excellent meal.

Kru is located at 2516 J Street.  Their phone number is 916-551-1559, and their website address is  They are open Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to  11:00 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Friday's blog article will not be posted until Friday evening

I'm scrambling to visit all of the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge restaurants before the challenge ends on Monday.  I have two restaurants left, Kru and Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe.  My plan at this point is to visit Kru for dinner Friday night and to post an article about it shortly thereafter.  I'll visit Sugar Plum sometime this weekend and post an article about it for Monday's blog.

So check back Friday night to find out about my dinner at Kru!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hot Italian

I had a great Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge experience a couple of days ago when I stopped in for dinner at Hot Italian.  Unlike some of the other participating restaurants, Hot Italian's vegan menu offerings will continue even after the challenge ends on Monday. 

The vegan entree at Hot Italian is the Muti, which includes grilled seasonal vegetables, tomato sauce, and arugula.  Icons printed next to the menu items indicate the form in which the ingredients can be prepared, and the available preparations for the Muti were either a pizza or a panini.  I decided to order the Muti panini, and it was terrific!  The bread for the sandwich was like a flatbread made of pizza dough, and the grilled seasonal vegetables were cherry tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, and kalamata olives.  I also ordered my panini with Daiya vegan cheese for an extra cost.  Normally, I don't care much for vegan cheese, but the panini had just enough cheese to add flavor.  Paired with a refreshing glass of Prosecco, it was an excellent meal.

I really didn't need dessert after that, but thought I'd better check it out anyhow so I could report about it on this blog.  The vegan dessert selection at Hot Italian is Sorbetto in seasonal flavors.  My choices were mango or pineapple, and I opted for the pineapple.  It was tasty and had a nice creamy texture.

The other two vegan items on the Hot Italian menu are an appetizer -- a selection of California and Italian olives -- and the Marcuzzi salad, which consists of mixed greens, shaved fennel, carrots, radish, red onion, and castelvetrano olives.

Hot Italian is located at 1627 16th Street (corner of 16th and Q).  Their phone number is 916-444-3000, and their website address is  The restaurant is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until late night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Blogging Schedule

Sacramento Vegan is switching to a new blogging schedule.  Beginning this week, new blog articles will be posted on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only.  As always, if you know of restaurants you think I should write about, please let me know.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Noodles & Company

I was at Loehmann's Plaza last week and noticed a Noodles & Company restaurant, a chain that I hadn't tried before.  So I decided to check it out. 

As its name would suggest, Noodles & Company specializes in noodle dishes, specifically noodle dishes from three different regions:  Asia, the Mediterranean, and America.  The menu indicates which items are vegetarian, which they define as excluding meat and fish.  The menu also says that they'll customize anything:

            "We're happy to make your meal just the way you want it.  Most of our
            dishes start out vegetarian, so you can add your favorite protein.  Make
            it more or less spicy.  Add, subtract or substitute veggies, cheese or
            noodles on any dish."

There is also a disclaimer on the menu that says:

            "We have The Big Eight (peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, eggs, fish,
            shellfish and wheat) in our restaurant and there may be cross contact.
            Our menu descriptions do not include all ingredients.  Please see a
            manager if you have food allergies, dietary restrictions or preferences."

So, now that I have that out of the way, what did I order?  Well, I decided that the Asian menu options probably required the least amount of tinkering with ingredients, so I opted for the Japanese Pan Noodles, described as "carmelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce, broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Asian sprouts, black sesame and cilantro."  I added tofu for an extra cost.  I thought this dish was quite good, and just exactly the right size for lunch, which means I didn't end up taking any leftovers home. 

The other Asian options were Pad Thai (I'm going to order this next time, without the scrambled egg), Bangkok Curry, Indonesian Peanut Saute, Thai Curry Soup, and Chinese Chop Salad.

The Mediterranean and American dishes looked like they would be a little more problematic for vegans, since many have cheese or cream cooked into the sauce.  Of the Mediterranean dishes, the Pasta Fresca and the Med Salad looked as though they could be made vegan.  I'm not sure any of the American dishes can be made vegan except possibly the Spaghetti & Meatballs without the meatballs.

In addition to their restaurant at Loehmann's Plaza, Noodles & Company has locations in Elk Grove and Roseville.  More information about their menu, locations, and hours of operation can be found at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bombay Bar & Grill

I had an outstanding dinner with my friend Deborah tonight at Bombay Bar & Grill, another restaurant participating in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge.  Bombay Bar & Grill has always offered numerous vegan menu selections, but their new menu has a separate listing specifically for vegan dishes so you won't have to ask any annoying questions when you're out with your non-vegan friends. (Does this curry contain ghee?  Would you please ask the chef?)

Deborah and I decided to share the Vegan Thali, which is a sampler of various menu items, and the Chana Sag, a dish made of garbanzo beans and spinach cooked with herbs and spices.  The Vegan Thali included mixed vegetables, puri bread, five vegetable momos (steamed dumplings), two samosas (fried turnovers), garbanzo beans, and steamed rice.  Everything was excellent, although, as usual, I liked the samosas the best.  The vegetables momos were fairly spicy, but still very good.  I was a little worried about the Chana Sag, since I'm not usually a fan of cooked spinach.  But mixed with the garbanzo beans and various herbs and spices, it was delicious and I would definitely order it again.  And since we were there during happy hour, the Century Cellars BV Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon was only $3.00 per glass.  It just doesn't get much better than that!

Other vegan choices on the Bombay Bar & Grill menu include Chana Masala (garbanzo beans), Cauliflower and Potatoes, Alu Baigan (potatoes and eggplant), Alu Mutter (potatoes and green peas), Bhindi Masal (okra), and Dal (lentils).

Bombay Bar & Grill is located at 1315 21st Street.  Their phone number is 916-441-7100, and their website address is  The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.  Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Capitol Garage

I had a great dinner last night at the sixth restaurant I've visited as part of the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge -- Capitol Garage.  I'm glad I did, because the beer battered and deep fried green bean appetizer, served with chipotle ketchup, turned out to be my favorite of all the dishes I've tasted so far during this challenge.  They were fabulous and they deserve a place on the Capitol Garage menu even after the challenge ends later this month.

I also enjoyed my entree, the South West Barley Risotto, consisting of pearl barley and several fresh vegetables, including corn, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes, topped with slices of grilled eggplant.  It was very hearty and quite filling, which presented a problem for me because there was no way that I was going to skip the vegan dessert -- Chai Coconut Chocolate Cake.  So I ordered the cake to go.  Lucky me -- I got the very last piece, and ate every single bite when I got home.

Chef Raphael Kendall, who created this menu, is a vegan himself and was featured in the Sacramento Bee article about the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge last week (  He will be the head chef at The Porch, a new restaurant that the owners of Capitol Garage will be opening soon at the location formerly occupied by Celestin's.  Let's hope that Chef Kendall will add some of his amazing vegan creations to the menu at The Porch!

Capitol Garage is located at 1500 K Street.  Their phone number is 916-444-3633, and their website address is  The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I'm enjoying my visits to all of the restaurants that are offering special vegan selections this month during the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge.  But I also want to acknowledge a restaurant that offers vegan menu items all the time -- Malabar in Natomas.

Malabar has a separate vegan/vegetarian menu, clearly indicating which items are vegan and which items are vegetarian.  I had dinner there with my husband last night and ordered their delicious Fire Roasted Stuffed Portabella, which was filled with artichoke hearts and red bell pepper, and served with jicama slaw and very tasty black beans.  Other vegan entrees listed on the menu are the grilled vegetable risotto with pomodoro sauce, risotto primavera, a wrap containing grilled zucchini, yellow squash, and oven-roasted tomatoes in pomodoro sauce, rice vermicelli noodles with pomodoro sauce, and stir-fry vegetables and rice noodles in a sesame-soy glaze.  There are also a couple of vegan salads and several vegan side dishes.  Alas, there are no vegan desserts, but other than that, I really appreciate the effort they have put into making vegans welcome at Malabar.

Malabar is located at 2960 Del Paso Road, just off I-5.  Their phone number is 916-574-9074, and their website address is  Malabar is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Aioli Bodega Espanola

I had dinner last night with my husband and son at Aioli Bodega Espanola, the fifth Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge restaurant I've visited this month.  This was a vegan-friendly restaurant even before the challenge, and I was eager to see what additional vegan dishes they were offering this month.

The first thing I discovered was that, at least for this month, their menu has a (V) next to each of the dishes that are vegan, and they had several vegan items listed.  I decided to start with the Sopa de Tomate y Trigo, a very flavorful pureed tomato soup with cracked wheat added.  Other vegan starters I've enjoyed in the past include Setas Con Comino, which are mushrooms marinated with cumin, garlic, sherry vinegar, and olive oil, and Aceitunas Variadas, a tasty selection of mixed olives. 

For my main course, I ordered the Paella Vegetariana, a sizzling pan of saffron rice cooked with julienned fresh seasonal vegetables, including zucchini, onions, carrots, and eggplant.  This is a staple on the Aioli Bodega Espanola menu, but it's usually available only for two people, not as a single serving.  For October only, they are offering it as a single serving, so if you haven't had it before, this is a great opportunity to try it.

I was looking forward to a pear poached in red wine with cinnamon, the only vegan dessert on the menu.  Unfortunately, they didn't have it, and the server didn't seem to think they would be serving it any time soon.  So the remainder of my second glass of their excellent Sangria was my dessert.

Aioli Bodega Espanola is located at 1800 L Street.  Their phone number is 916-447-9440, and their website address is  They're open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

BJ's Restaurants

BJ's Restaurants

BJ's Restaurants are popping up everywhere, including at Arden Fair Mall in the space previously occupied by the California Cafe.  With the holidays coming up, I'm sure that we'll all be spending more time at the mall, so I thought I'd find out if there is anything vegan on the BJ's menu.

I sent an e-mail to the restaurant's headquarters and received a response from their director of operations for the Bay Area and the Central Valley.  Mostly, it appears that if you're a vegan eating at BJ's, you'll need to order non-vegan menu items and ask them to leave off the things you don't eat.  Here is your list of options:

·         Chips and Salsa
·         Vegetarian Pizza, if ordered without cheese
·         Garden Medley Salad, if ordered without feta cheese
·         House Salad, with either balsamic vinaigrette or oil and vinegar, if ordered without croutons, which contain Parmesan
·         Garden Vegetable Potato, if ordered without cheese or Alfredo sauce
·         Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta, if ordered without Parmesan topping

There were a few things on the menu that I thought might be vegan, but they are not, so I want to point those out so you won't order them by mistake:

·         The Hearty Minestrone Soup is made with beef broth
·         The Veggie Burger has cheese in the patty itself
·         The Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce has Parmesan cooked into the sauce

In addition to the BJ's at Arden Fair Mall, there are BJ's Restaurants in Natomas, Elk Grove, Folsom, and Roseville.  More information about their restaurants and their menu is available at

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cafe Capricho

After reading the glowing review of Cafe Capricho in Sunday's Sacramento Bee (, I was eager to check it out as the next stop on my Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge restaurant tour.  So I drove to East Sacramento yesterday for a very late lunch/very early dinner.

The menu board and the specials board posted above and next to the counter included several vegan options, and I'll definitely plan on visiting Cafe Capricho again so I can write a blog article about the vegan items on their regular menu.  But the purpose of my visit was to try the dishes that had been created specifically for the challenge. 

The first item on the special challenge menu was the Jewel Quinoa Salad, which, according to the description, consisted of quinoa, dried apricots, cranberries, and dates with a citrus vinaigrette over a bed of mixed greens.  As a bonus, chopped pecans topped the salad.  It was fabulous!  I didn't go so far as to lick my plate clean, but there was nothing left but a little dressing when I finished the salad.  I think this salad is probably one of my top three favorites among the dishes I've tried so far during the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge.

I also ordered the Capricho's Stew, described as lentil stew with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, plantains, and Swiss chard, topped with flax seeds and toasted coconut over savory coconut polenta.  I would really have loved to have tried that savory coconut polenta, but unfortunately, they were already out of it at 4:30 in the afternoon, so I had the stew over brown rice instead.  It was very good, and extremely filling, so I'll be having the leftovers for lunch later this week.

I was really sad to find out that they were also out of their special vegan dessert:  Strawberry Shortcake, which would have consisted of a vanilla sponge cake (made with quinoa flour and soy milk), fresh strawberries, and coconut milk cream, and would have been topped with sliced almonds.

I can only hope that the reason Cafe Capricho was out of both the polenta and the strawberry shortcake is because so many people are eating at the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge restaurants that they can't keep up with the demand.  Part of the problem may be that Cafe Capricho is serving the dishes from the special challenge menu all day, instead of just for dinner, so maybe the lunch crowd finished off those items.  At any rate, if you have your heart set on trying a particular dish, you may want to call ahead to make sure they have it.

Cafe Capricho is located at 3269 Folsom Boulevard.  Their phone number is 916-457-3916, and their website address is  They are open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


If you're in an unfamiliar area where you don't know what's available at any of the local restaurants, or if you're in a hurry and need to order quickly, Subway could turn out to be a vegan's best friend.  There may not be a drive-through, but service is quick and you can order a Veggie Delite sandwich the way you want it (no cheese and no mayo).

Subway has an online menu with nutritional information so it's easy to find out which breads are vegan.  As it turns out, there are several breads listed that don't contain eggs or dairy products:  Hearty Italian, Italian (White), Roasted Garlic, Sourdough, and 9-Grain Wheat.  You can choose from among numerous vegetables for your sandwich, such as lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, jalapeno peppers, banana peppers, pickles, and olives.  I always have them add avocado to mine, but that costs extra.  Vegan dressings for your sandwich include yellow or deli brown mustard, and oil and vinegar.  Sandwiches come in lengths of either six inches or foot-long.

Subway has 35,415 restaurants in 98 countries, so wherever you're traveling, you've got a good shot at finding one.  More information about Subway's locations, hours, and menu is available at

Monday, October 10, 2011



After watching The Ides of March at the movies Saturday evening, my husband and I had dinner at another of the restaurants participating in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, Michelangelo's.  As you might guess from the name, Michelangelo's serves Italian fare, and they are offering a special vegan appetizer, entree, and dessert this month.

I ordered both the vegan appetizer and the vegan entree.  The appetizer was Marinated Grilled Portobello Mushroom with Grilled Polenta and Mixed Olive Sauce.  It was very tasty, and the flavors blended well together.  The mixed olive sauce looked like a mostly tomato sauce, but the olives were a welcome addition.

The entree was Risotto Timballo, a pumpkin risotto encrusted with panko bread crumbs and filled with caponata sauce.  The caponata sauce under the risotto seemed to consist mostly of tomato sauce, eggplant, and mushrooms, making it a very hearty dish.  In fact, it was so hearty that I was too full to try the dessert, which was a fruit sorbetto.

These items are available on the dinner menu during the month of October, but if you're at Michelangelo's for lunch, you may be able to order them at lunchtime too, so check with your server.

Michelangelo's is located at 1725 I Street.  Their phone number is 916-446-5012, and their website address is  They are open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, October 7, 2011

58 Degrees & Holding Co.

I had dinner last night with Jennifer, my friend and fellow vegan, at 58 Degrees & Holding Co., one of the restaurants participating in this month's Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge (  One vegan selection is offered for each course, and the vegan items are indicated on the menu with a "(V)" next to the listing.  Between the two of us, we tried all of them.

First up was the Vegetable Consommé, a flavorful vegetable broth that included enoki "noodles," cilantro, shaved jalapeno, and mint.  It had a nice fennel taste to it, and there were sauces such as sriracha that could be added to make it more spicy.

Only one salad was listed as vegan, the Mushroom Trio, which consisted of confit portabello, tempura trumpets, and pickled hedgehogs (and who would have thought a hedgehog on the menu would be vegan?).  All of the mushrooms were quite good, but I especially enjoyed the tempura trumpets, probably because tempura is one of the things that I've had to stop eating since I went vegan.  The Heirloom Tomatoes were not listed as vegan because the dish generally includes cheese, but Jennifer ordered it without the cheese.  The dressing was made of garlic oil and a distinctive white vinegar foam, with fennel and fines herb.

The vegan entree is Soybean Bulgogi, a plate consisting of small amounts of several items including  kim chee, broccoli rabe, cucumbers, smoked tofu, and seaweed rice.  The tofu was prepared in a sweet sauce that gave it a nice flavor, and I liked the contrast with the broccoli rabe, which tasted pickled.

Dessert wasn't listed on the menu, but they did have a vegan dessert plate that included chocolate mousse, slices of fried banana, and a fabulous peanut butter gelato.  It was a great way to top off the meal!

These vegan dishes are offered only on the dinner menu, and only during October's Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge.  If you want more vegan menu selections in Sacramento restaurants, you may want to think about visiting the participating restaurants this month and letting the chefs know you appreciate their efforts in preparing vegan cuisine.

58 Degrees & Holding Co. is located at 1217 18th Street.  Their phone number is 916-442-5858, and their website address is  Dinner is served Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.  The restaurant is closed on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gourmet Wraps


I had lunch at Gourmet Wraps yesterday, a small restaurant at the Town & Country Village shopping center offering Mediterranean fare in a casual setting.  As I expected, they offered wraps containing falafel and hummus, perennial vegan favorites.  But I wanted to try something different, so I ordered the cauliflower wrap.

Now, let me start by saying that I really like cauliflower.  If you don't, or if you're just ambivalent about it, this is not the wrap for you, as the main ingredient and the predominant flavor really is fried and seasoned cauliflower florets.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The wrap also included lettuce, tomato, tahini, and dill pickle chips (I had them leave off the onions).  I especially liked the tastes of the tahini and pickles in combination with the cauliflower.  The wrap was fairly large, and I remember thinking that I wouldn't be able to finish it all, but that was apparently the last thing I remembered before I scarfed down every bite.

If cauliflower's not your thing, Gourmet Wraps has other vegan wrap choices.  The Makali is a fried eggplant wrap, the Mujadra is a wrap filled with lentils and rice, and there is also a spinach wrap.  The Rice & Beans wrap can be made vegan by omitting the cheese and the cucumber sauce, which has a sour cream base.  There are also three salads that are vegan or can be made vegan:  the Garden Salad, the Greek Salad (hold the feta), and the Fettoush Salad, which sounds like it is basically a garden salad tossed with pieces of lavosh (an unleavened flat bread).

Gourmet Wraps is located at 2912 Fulton Avenue, Suite F-3, and their phone number is 916-482-8792.  They don't seem to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at!/pages/Gourmet-Wraps-Mediterranean-Restaurant/145337402180362?sk=info.  They are open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Sunday hours tend to vary, so if you're planning to go on a Sunday, call ahead to make sure they're open.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Peet's Coffee & Tea

I don't drink coffee, and I'm not particular about tea, so if I'm meeting someone at a coffeehouse, my biggest concern is likely to be whether there will be any vegan snacks for me.  Since Old Soul ( isn't always an option, I was happy when a friend told me that Peet's Coffee & Tea offers a few vegan treats too.  So I stopped by my local Peet's yesterday to check out the baked goods.

There were three vegan items, and in order to make a full report, I decided I'd better try all of them.  The first was a fat-free apricot oatmeal scone.  I was confused when I looked at it because I saw blackberries in it, not apricots.  Apparently, the apricot is pureed and mixed in with the dough.  At any rate, it was quite good, and I especially liked the added blackberries.

The next two items I sampled were the vegan ginger cookie and the vegan chocolate chip cookie.  They were both excellent, although I appreciated the ginger cookie more just because I can always find a vegan chocolate chip cookie, but vegan ginger cookies are a little more scarce. 

The baked goods in Peet's Northern California restaurants are made in South San Francisco bakeries.  If you're visiting a Peet's Coffee & Tea location in Southern California, you're likely to have different menu options.

Peet's offers an extensive selection of coffee and tea drinks, and soy milk can be substituted for regular milk.

There are numerous Peet's locations in the Sacramento area.  Information about locations, hours, and menu items can be found at

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One Speed Pizza

My husband and I had a lovely lunch last week at trendy One Speed Pizza in East Sacramento.  I ordered their outstanding Housemade Focaccia with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus to start.  If you're vegan, however, make sure to ask your server to leave the cheese off the top of the focaccia.

We ordered the Marinated Olives to share, but some of the olives are stuffed with anchovies.  Your server can try to pick out all of the olives with anchovies before bringing the olives to your table, but the olives are all mixed together, so bits of anchovy could still end up mixed in with the rest of the olives.

For my entree, I had the Dwelley Farms Green Beans & Baby Beets salad, topped with walnuts and pickled onions.  It normally comes with feta cheese, which I asked them to leave off.  I thought the salad with its tangy dressing was quite delicious and surprisingly filling.

Other vegan menu options at One Speed Pizza include the Simple Mixed Greens; the Panzanella, if ordered without the Parmesan; the Local Sweet Corn & Fregola; and the Spaghetti Pomidoro, if ordered without the anchovies and Parmesan. 

I e-mailed the restaurant to see if they offered any other vegan options, and received a response indicating that the Gnocchi can be made vegan by ordering it with tomato sauce.  Also, there is a vegan pizza, which is not on the menu, but which apparently can be made with tomato sauce and an assortment of vegetables.

For breakfast, the only vegan menu options appear to be the Breakfast Potatoes, and the Black Beans & Rice, if ordered without sour cream and cheese.

One Speed Pizza is located at 4818 Folsom Boulevard.  Their phone number is 916-706-1748, and their website address is  They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., with a limited menu from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  On Sunday, they are open for breakfast from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., pizza only from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and dinner from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  The restaurant is closed on Monday.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tower Bridge Bistro at the Embassy Suites

On the first night of the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with my husband at the Tower Bridge Bistro in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Old Sacramento.  I had read about some of the dishes the chef was planning to offer, but didn't realize that there would be a special vegan three-course prix fixe menu with two choices for each course.  I can't tell you how exciting it was to actually have a choice of vegan menu items!

The two appetizers that were offered were Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Pepitas and Parsley Oil, and Tabbouleh Cucumber Canapes with Cracked Lavosh.  I had known that pumpkin soup would be on the menu, and I was looking forward to trying it, especially since the evenings are starting to feel a little more like autumn all of a sudden.  The soup was fabulous, with enough of the sweetness that you expect from pumpkin, but with a nice savory flavor as well.  The crunchy pepitas were a nice contrast to the pureed soup.

The entree choices were Cous Cous and Vegetable Chili with Sriracha Sauce, Cilantro & Pita Chips, or Protein Power Stack of Quinoa, Tofu, Black Beans & Vegetables layered between Crisp Corn Tortillas drizzled with Spicy Soy Yogurt Sauce.  I had expected to order the Cous Cous and Vegetable Chili, but the Protein Power Stack sounded intriguing, so I went with that instead.  It turned out to be small (the crisp corn tortillas were only about three or four inches in diameter), but it was filling and flavorful, and the Spicy Soy Yogurt Sauce had quite a kick to it. 

I had a terrible time deciding between the two dessert choices:  Poached Bosc Pear with Dark Chocolate Sauce & Toasted Almonds, and Buckwheat Blinis with Raspberry Coulis & Chocolate Dipping Sauce.  I finally chose the Buckwheat Blinis just because it wasn't anything I was likely to find anywhere else.  The blinis were four small buckwheat pancakes (about an inch-and-a-half in diameter) dusted with powdered sugar.  Little bowls of raspberry coulis and chocolate sauce were on the plate.  I didn't know what the proper protocol was, so I poured the raspberry coulis over the pancakes, and then dipped each bite in the chocolate sauce.  Delicious!

Tower Bridge Bistro is located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel at 100 Capitol Mall.  Their phone number is 916-326-5050, and their website address is  The special vegan menu is offered only during the month of October, and only for dinner, which is served nightly from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

If you're planning to visit the restaurants that are participating in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge this month, you might want to print out the passport at the California Vegan Restaurants website to take with you.  It includes a ballot and information about entering a drawing for prizes at the end of the challenge.  The passport is available at