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 http://www.towerbridgebistro.com/. 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 http://www.californiaveganrestaurants.com/docs/passport2011.pdf.