10/17/10

Tao Natural Foods – Minneapolis, MN

Tao Natural Foods
2200 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Phone: (612) 377-4630
http://www.taonaturalfoods.com/

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Alas, inspiration! After a couple of months of laying low, I was finally impressed enough to write. I loved the feel of this health store / cafe. It was light, airy and hip. Large picture windows made the sidewalk dining area feel like an extension of the kitchen. Plants spill over the counters, evoking an overall greenhouse vibe. The clientele felt like regulars and the retro diner seating encouraged conversation with the cooks. The servers were a little cold, but warmed up once I started asking questions. After a long morning of travel, I was thrilled to find this place.

I tried the AVOCADO RICE PLATE. The bowl of brown rice was topped with black beans, tomato, avocado, sliced red onion, tempeh and finished with toasted sesame oil. It was one of the most simple, yet perfect, meals I’ve had in a while. This huge plate of food that was more than fairly priced at $10.50.

This place just got it. I wish I could have tried another meal, but I liked my lunch so much that I have attempted to replicate the dish at home. Tao has become the gift that will keep on giving (once I get the recipe just right).

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07/25/10

Field of Green’s – Houston, TX

Field of Green’s Healthy Cuisine
2320 W. Alabama
Houston, TX 77098
Phone: (713) 533-0029
http://www.fieldofgreenscuisine.com/index.html

When I pulled into the parking lot and saw the large sign reading “Field of Green’s” I was afraid that I had made a grave mistake. Surely a place that paid such close attention to organic and vegan ingredients would also be aware of basic spelling and grammar. I was relieved to quickly the learn the full name was actually “Field of Green’s Healthy Cuisine.”

This place is tiny; it’s a very bare-bones restaurant located in a strip center near Whole Foods. The ambiance is very simple, but the service is super friendly and the music was hip. The crowd appeared to be younger, but I’d bet the location attracts a variety of ages.

The menu offered a good variety and considered fish eating vegetarians by offering salmon in some dishes. I had so much trouble deciding from all the options, I had to ask my server for a suggestion. I finally settled on the VEGAN FISH TACO PLATTER. The dish consisted of grilled seaweed soy fish, pico, lettuce and lemon dill in a whole wheat tortilla. It also came with a small salad. This meal cost $11.

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I should have read the menu a little more carefully before ordering. I was imagining soft tacos for this plate, so was slightly disappointed. I’ve since realized that I don’t care for soy fish of any kind. Despite these two oversights, I could taste that the ingredients were fresh and I ate half the meal. It wasn’t bad, but I’d definitely order differently next time. I only wish that I had the opportunity to give this restaurant a second chance. I can tell this is a staple of the Houston vegetarian scene.

Field of Greens on Urbanspoon

07/18/10

Cafe Gratitude – Berkeley, CA

Cafe Gratitude
1730 Shattuck Ave (@ Virginia)
Berkeley, CA 94709
Phone: (510) 725-4418
Hours: 10 am to 10 pm
http://www.cafegratitude.com/

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To the average diner, the attitude of this restaurant might seem a little intimidating. The concept began with a couple who challenged one another to “live their lives together following and trusting intuition.” Their commitment inspired the development of the Abounding River Game. It’s an interactive game to share with a partner based around what they believed were important qualities to aspire to: Love & Acceptance, Generosity, Worth, Gratitude, and Creation or Responsibility. Cafe Gratitude was created initially as a meeting place for others to play this game.

Then, one of the owners stumbled upon a book about live foods and they experimented with this lifestyle for a month. They felt so good, they decided to create a menu for the cafe. Most of the food at this restaurant is organic, raw and vegan.

Sound like a lot to take in? I thought so, too, but once I arrived with my family my skepticism subsided. The Berkeley location isn’t large. Most of the tables were full on a Saturday for a late lunch. We were offered a cozy area with two couches and large coffee table connecting the space. Overall, the ambiance is calm, even soothing and casual.

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We started with the I AM ABUNDANT sampler plate. For $16, you’ll receive sprouted almond hummus, Asian kale-sea vegetable salad, hempseed pesto crustini, spicy cashew nacho cheese w/ flax chips, olive tapenade, buckwheat crackers, spring roll & mini house soup served on a large plate for sharing. These items taste great paired together. I especially liked the house soup and almond hummus.

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For my entree, I tried I AM WHOLE. This macrobiotic bowl contained shredded kale, sea vegetables, house made kim chee, sprouts, teriyaki almonds, quinoa, brown rice and a garlic-tahini sauce. I strongly recommend the 1/2 order ($10). Despite my best efforts, I was unable to finish. I felt satisfied, but not like I had overeaten.

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I AM RAPTURE completed our meal, with a scoop of creamy vanilla nut-milk ice cream. It was extremely had to believe this chocolate layer cake was vegan or raw. Bravo!

Without experiencing this place, the concept seems easy to ridicule, however, I encourage skeptics to open their mind and try it. The food is delicious and you’ll experience of the best feel-good meals you’ve had in a long time.

Cafe Gratitude on Urbanspoon

07/17/10

Greens – San Francisco, CA

Greens
Fort Mason, Building A
San Francisco, CA 94123
415.771.6222
http://www.greensrestaurant.com/

Greens is located in a converted warehouse on the grounds of Fort Mason. The warehouse also houses a variety of other cultural and non-profit environmentally friendly organizations. The Greens space is ideal for a dining room. The main wall is floor to ceiling windows and offers amazing views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Even if the area is surrounded by fog, the ambiance is airy and art filled.

After Millennium, the bar had been set pretty high, but I read a number a positive reviews of the Mediterranean, Mexico and the American Southwest influenced foods of Greens and insisted we give it a try.

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From the recommendation of our server, I opted for their signature dish, MESQUITE GRILLED BROCHETTES. This dish contains mushrooms, yellow finn potatoes, peppers, red onions, yams, sweet corn, fennel and Hodo Soy tofu with charmoula and cherry almond quinoa. My favorite of the skewered items were the tofu and sweet corn. Everything was seasonal, fresh, expertly marinated and grilled. The quinoa was the perfect pairing. This meal could have easily fed two guests and was fairly priced at $21. I would reorder this every time I came to this restaurant.

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Greens has been favorably reviewed by many top vegetarian food experts. I have hardly “discovered” something new, but if you ever stop through the Bay Area, Greens is a must.

Greens on Urbanspoon