May
07
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Cajun, Faux Meat, Los Angeles, North Hollywood, United States on May-7-2017

Vegetarian Cajun Food?!? This is one of those occasions where the phrase “stop everything” needs to be vigorously applied. My wife and I love New Orleans, it’s music, food…and, well, it’s everything, though we did struggle a little bit to find great vegetarian friendly food there…Now suddenly there’s an all vegetarian Cajun restaurant that delivers to us in Van Nuys…like I said…stop everything!

We loved everything we ordered from here, though there were a few issues with order accuracy, we would give this place a thousand more chances based on flavor alone.

I had the New Orleans Poboy…battered hearts of palm on sourdough with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. This tasted GREAT…the bread was perfect…the battered hearts of palm were delighful…and if you do a search for “classic po boy” you’ll find that it looked a whole lot like one too! I had asked for the house-made Tabasco mayo on the side as I generally don’t like mayonnaise, and they didn’t include it with the order at all so small ding for that, would have at least liked to have tried it.

My wife and I shared the Cajun Jambalaya. The cajun-spiced rice and beans mixtures was just the right amount of spicy and it was super tasty. We had asked if they could split this order into two containers…one WITH the veggie sausage, and one without…and they interpreted that as just putting the sausage on it’s own separately…I would have rather had it cooked in with the dish so was a little disappointed that I had to roll my own, but it still tasted great. (Though it was much more rice-heavy than anything else…the beans and other ingredients were fairly light in this dish. Feels like there should have been more relative to the amount of rice.

The Louisiana Cornbread…this IS the cornbread you are looking for. Most, just rightly sweet and might kill you dead with joy with the awesome butter it comes with. I could live on this cornbread for all of eternity. More please.

The one small disappointment food-wise was the Cajun Rainbow salad. They list Organic Kale as the first ingredient but it was basically a spinach salad that had a little bit of Kale in it. Typically when ingredients are listed, the larger to smaller amounts are listed in that order and my wife definitely would have preferred more kale.

Despite small mistakes and the salad, we want this restaurant to succeed as the food was SO TASTY and authentically Cajun/New Orleans. I’d love for them to round out the menu with a take on a classic NOLA Red Beans and Rice recipe, and maybe a “Dirty” Rice too.

Please don’t ever close, Krimsey’s!

Krimsey’s Cajun Kitchen
http://krimseys.com/restaurant/
818-308-6166
12906 Victory Blvd,
North Hollywood, CA 91606
(Dine in or order on Grubhub for delivery)


 
Apr
29
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States on April-29-2017

I’m from the West Coast but find myself in Allentown several times of year visiting family. I keep heading to downtown to make it feel like I’ve actually travelled somewhere and spotted Grain. in one of far-too-many walks up and down the epicenter of Hamilton St. The street sign alone tells you this is a place worth walking into…so we were excited to finally be able to give it a try!

Honey Nut Old Fashioned

Honey Nut Old Fashioned

I started with a Honey Nut Old Fashioned – It was a good drink, well mixed, with peanuts in it and the unique flavor of Peanut Honey Bourbon. (Ahh peanuts…what can’t you do.

Brussels 4 Ways

Brussels 4 Ways

My wife and I shared the Brussels Sprouts Four Ways. 3 of the ways look similar to each other and one looks different, so we actually had to “count the ways” to make sure we had all four…there was smoked, pickled, fried and what we’d call “overdressed”. We liked all of them except for the overdressed (the more slaw-like tower in the middle of the others…It was definitely fresh, just too much dressing for our taste.) The cherries was a nice addition.

Stout Gingerbread Carrots

Stout Gingerbread Carrots

We also had the Stout Gingerbread Carrots…all three of these words are divine on their own, together, they created a new carrot mecca – The dish was not overly sweet and looked yummy, though we would have preferred slightly more al-dente carrots…overall it came together nicely.

Castle Valley Mills Farrow

Castle Valley Mills Farrow

I loved the Castle Valley Mills Farrow…it served as a hearty main for just me (it’s on the small plates menu) It included mushroom, asparagus, cherry tomato, roasted fennel, poached egg, pine nuts. Very satisfying.

Charred Asparagus Salad

Charred Asparagus Salad

My wife had the Charred Asparagus Salad for her main. She said it was a delicious salad with a beautifully poached egg on the top. Also on top, the pickled mustard seeds on were a unique visual and flavor addition. Everything went together very well.

Secret Off-Menu French Fries

Secret Off-Menu French Fries

Not on the main, but reason enough to come to this restaurant are the French Fries. Come to this restaurant just to get the french fries. Do this. They’re hand cut in the back, perfectly thick and delightful with the malt vinegar they brought. Again these don’t appear on the menu but, dammit, ask them for them.

There’s a full bar downstairs which looked suitably hipster and nicely habitable, with a full dining room upstairs and private room available in the back for your unique private party needs.

Allentown is now officially on the modern foodie map!

Grain.
536 Hamilton St
Allentown, PA 18101
http://grainallentown.com/


 
Apr
15
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States on April-15-2017

If you’re only going to pick one restaurant to have dinner, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, you can’t go wrong with Home 231. We had one night in town escaping our child who was safely tucked away with his grandparents in Allentown, PA and a good New American place with plenty of vegetarian small plate options is our weakness. So in we went. It’s a farm to table spot…with most ingredients sourced within 30 miles (according to our waitress who was super nice!)

Lavendar Martini

Lavendar Martini

I started with the Lavender Martini which was boldly floral, maybe a tad too sweet for my tastes (although I happily finished the whole thing) and in certain light a bit more purple than lavender.

Brussels Salad

Brussels Salad

We split the Brussels Salad. Mine with the blue cheese on top, and my wife’s without. This was great and had the cutest little tomatoes you’ve ever seen. The Blue cheese and peanuts made it delicious.

Cream of Zucchini Soup

Cream of Zucchini Soup

I also had the Cream of Zucchini Soup which was perfect. Lots of flavor and perfect consistency, served in a little crock, topped with freshly ground pepper. This was the soup of the day, so they might not have it when you go, but it’s a good indication of the quality of any future soup they might offer.

Smoked Paprika Polenta

Smoked Paprika Polenta

We also shared the Smoked Paprika Polenta side – I didn’t actually see any paprika in this or get a sense of a smoke flavor. It was very salty and rich. I couldn’t finish it. Bonus points for serving it in cute little cast iron pan.

Black Bean Barley Cake

Black Bean Barley Cake

My wife had the Black Bean Barley Cake side. She loved it so much she ordered a second one. (There’s a “main” version of this which comes almost all the same ingredients and the addition of bok-choy…getting two of the sides was less expensive and a perfect option for us, especially since we were ordering multiple small plates. She thought this was delicious. It had a quinoa base and it sat on top of a little bit of a lovely sweet corn puree. It all melded together well. It reminded me of what some restaurants present as a “house-made veggie burger.” With that framing, the same item on a bun falls apart as you try to eat it between the bread…as a standalone piece, the “cake” eaten with a fork was perfect.

A strange side note – this was the first of two restaurants we ate in in Harrisburg in which it was very cold UNDER the table. We didn’t see a vent where we were seated but it was definitely a different climate under the table than above. I wanted to ask for fleece napkins to lay on my lap.

We would definitely come back to Home 231.

Home 231
231 North St.
Harrisburg, PA 17101
https://www.home231.com/


 
Apr
15
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Brunch, Coffee, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States on April-15-2017

We decided to launch into an overnight in Harrisburg at the Tomato Pie Cafe…the tales of their signature dish, house-made pastries, and smoothies, promised something for everyone! (Everyone being my wife and I.) It’s a nice place, slightly upscale breakfast and lunch venue, comfortable, casual and designed with a modern flair.

Coffee Mug with Swell Tomato Pie Cafe Logo

Coffee Mug with Swell Tomato Pie Cafe Logo

It was a good sign that the house coffee was strong. This is what one needs out of coffee. It’s roasted locally so you’re getting something unique and regional. It was a little acidic for my tastes but excellent on its own terms.

Green Machine Smoothie

Green Machine Smoothie

My wife had the Green Machine Smoothie – This was everything she’d ever wanted out of a smoothie. She almost left me for this smoothie. (But I had the car keys…) Not too sweet, perfectly thick, and served in a glass so you still feel like you’re dining somewhere. (As opposed to a plastic to-go cup.)

Tomato-Pie-with-Berries

Tomato-Pie-with-Berries

I went with the Tomato Pie. It’s their signature dish and name-sake…and when was the next time I was going to be in Harrisburg? I went with fruit for the side (potatoes, and parmesan git cake were the other 2 options) and they were nice enough to do all berries instead of the more standard mixed fruit.  The presentation was a little messy.I guess it’s hit or miss when you’re scooping a slice of pie out of a tin…It might’ve looked a little better on the plate had I gotten the potatoes or grit cake right on the plate instead of the bowl of berries placed on the plate with the pie. I didn’t love it. It definitely had a savory take on a fruit pie vibe about it…the bottom crust and tomatoes were good, but it wasn’t quite as cheesy as I thought it would be and the topping (which had the cheese in it) also had a noticeable mayonnaise element which I didn’t like at all. I wish the ingredients were listed on the menu. I really don’t like mayonnaise and had I seen it in the description of the dish, I definitely would’ve gotten something else

Red Beet Egg and Beet Salad

Red Beet Egg and Beet Salad

My wife had the Red Beet Egg and Beet Salad. It came with with bread which was nice, but it didn’t mention that on the menu, so my gluten free love, had she known, would have asked them not to bring it, or if they had a gluten free option. (which they did.) The salad was okay, but a few too many candied nuts came in it for her preference. The beeted eggs (apparently a Pennsylvania standard) were beautiful. They forgot to put the goat cheese on top so that had be brought separately, and when added the salad did come together a little better

All in all the vibe of the place was pretty cool, and although we didn’t love what we got, considering all the cool options they had, which we didn’t get, we definitely would come back and try it again.

It also was very reasonably priced for what seemed like a pretty nice restaurant and the amount we ordered.

As a side note there’s another location in the nearby town of “Lititz” which we had no reason to go to, but sure had fun mispronouncing out-loud for days.

Tomato Pie Cafe
3950 Tecport Dr.
Harrisburg, PA 17111
https://www.tomatopiecafe.net/


 
Apr
15
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in California, Faux Meat, Los Angeles, United States, Venice on April-15-2017

Whoa is the butcher whose daughter launches a vegetarian restaurant…but for the rest of us vegetarians, we salute her branching out on her own path. We had a great experience at The Butcher’s Daughter restaurant in Venice. The restaurant had been on our radar for a while since we almost had brunch there a couple of months back, and decided to give it a try when the wait at another nearby restaurant was too long. We were seated right away on a Saturday night.

Rosemary's Cup

Rosemary’s Cup

I started with a Rosemary’s Cup cocktail which was very refreshing and a tiny bit sweet with muddled cucumber and big pieces of fresh rosemary sticking out of it. Very well done.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

My wife and I split the butternut squash risotto which was perfect as the split portions were large and the dish was rich so the full serving would have been too much for one of us. This dish had lots of flavor with a little bit of an Indian spice to it. This was a very nice take on butternut squash risotto.

Rainbow Carrots

Rainbow Carrots

We also shared the rainbow carrots – A sweet dish full of multicolored carrots that would have been too sweet to eat on its own but perfect when shared.

Vegan Sausage

Vegan Sausage

I saw vegan sausage on the menu that normally comes as an add-on with the cheese board and asked if I could try that thinking it would be a good salty companion to the risotto. The flavor (white bean and fennel) was good although the texture wasn’t perfect for a faux meat.

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

We also got the Kale chips which was quite an experience top with a vegan parmesan Parmesan topped with lime. My wife was in love with this dish.

Although we didn’t order it, the veggie burger that walked by (okay, technically it was being carried by a human) looked amazing.

There were plenty of other things on the menu we didn’t get but would have loved to try, including desserts. We’ll definitely be back.

The Butcher’s Daughter
1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
https://www.thebutchersdaughter.com