Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ Category

Brown Sugar Cafe & “Paradise Garden”

Yesterday night, I went out to dinner, and I chose Brown Sugar Cafe mostly because I had a hunkering for Thai food and I hadn’t gone out for something other than the occasional sandwich from Subway in quite a while.  If you haven’t been to Brown Sugar Cafe yet, you really need to make it out there. They’ve got plenty of meat-filled options, so take anyone there. Because, they’ve also got plenty of vegetarian options.

What I love about asian restaurants is that anything can be made vegetarian (i.e. the meat can be left out).

Looking through their extensive menu, I spent way too much time trying to make a choice. I chose Vegetarian Thai Spring Rolls for our appetizer; it came in 6 pieces with the house turnip sauce.  For my entree, I ended up narrowing my choices down to Red Curry, Pad Thai, Vegetable Fried Rice, Vegetarian Curry (extra vegetables and red curry with coconut milk), and this intriguing dish from the “Vegetarian Corner” section of the menu called Paradise Garden.

Paradise Garden won.

So what is Paradise Garden?  It is sauteed zucchini, bamboo strips, summer squash, Thai eggplant, cauliflower, snow peas, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, baby corn, green & red peppers and sweet basil leaves in mild red curry sauce. I had them make it spicy, because I love my red curry spicy, and I substituted brown rice for the white rice (because I love brown rice with Southeast Asian cuisine.

I’m pretty sure this dish won because it guaranteed a high and varied vegetable content,  and I love vegetables. Especially in curry. Also, this dish did not have tofu or eggs.  I have never been able to find a tofu dish I like (and I will try everyone’s dish at least once).  Now that I’ve tried tofu a solid dozen times, I do not ever want to eat more tofu.  Eggs, I love, hard-boiled, scrambled, as omelettes, but never in my rice or noodles.

This is Paradise Garden. It was Paradise. It was a Garden of Delicious.

paradise garden

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Before Winter REALLY sets in – Jamba Juice

jambaaaa

Featured: Chunky Strawberry Topper and Mango Topper

It’s about to cool down to freezing in Boston (and let’s face it, in anywhere north of Florida) and soon it will be too cold to justify one of my favorite dining establishments: Jamba Juice. The Tampa, Florida locations opened years ago, so I’d already become familiar with Jamba Juice by the time of my arrival at Boston University. Then, I found out that the only New England location was conveniently located in the George Sherman Union – a student center/food location in the center of BU’s campus. Success!

When I had dining points as part of my BU meal plan my first two years at BU, I’d have Jamba Juice for lunch every day, literally.  My Jamba intake decreased exponentially when I moved off campus and began cooking more at home, but recently I’ve been on a Jamba craze.

My favorite blend is, without contest, the Chunky Strawberry Topper. This Jamba “Ideal Meal” is a blend of frozen strawberries, frozen bananas, nonfat plain yogurt, soymilk, organic pumpkin flax seed granola, and peanut butter topped with fresh granola and fresh bananas. The 12 oz keeps me full for hours, so it’s the perfect lunch for me. I tried the Berry Topper too, but I think I’m partial to the peanut butter and granola in the Chunky Strawberry Topper.

For an afternoon snack, I love the Strawberry Nirvana. This Jamba “Light Smoothie” is made with lower calorie dairy base, frozen strawberries, apple strawberry juice blend, frozen bananas and ice. It’s delicious and it’ll keep you full for a couple hours – at least until dinner!

Unfortunately, the Jamba Juice location in the BU GSU is limited and doesn’t have the Jamba Bakery, which is an excellent source of delicious, healthy, and sometimes vegan goodies.  The Sourdough Parmesan Pretzel, Zucchini Walnut Loaf, and Greek Goodness Wrap make my top three!

If you’re a BU student and you haven’t gone to Jamba Juice yet, you’ve been missing out! This is a healthy, tasty and wonderful choice of dining out, and they will be cutting their hours soon for winter, so grab a Jamba while you can!

  • If you’ve been to Jamba Juice, what’s your favorite drink? Why?
  • Do you find the Jamba Light as fulfilling as the regular Jamba blends?

P.S. Jenny at Enjoy Your Cheerios blogged about Jamba Juice a while back.  Check out her blog if you’re a college student motivated by living a healthy lifestyle!

Baked Vegetable Frittata

The Frittata.  When I was in Copenhagen this past summer, my friend Jason introduced me to this Italian vegetable and egg dish.  Since then, I’ve discovered  numerous recipes for making frittatas, realized that each calls for the vegetables to be cooked differently, the eggs to be poured in at different times, and for the dish to be baked or broiled or cooked differently.  Alton Brown of the Food Network has a carnivorous version of the frittata recipe, for those of you cooking for a mixed party.

Because it’s slightly different from the allrecipes.com Potato and Vegetable Frittata Recipe, I’m providing Jason’s frittata recipe, which in all honesty, knowing Jason, he probably improvised the majority of it.

Potato and Vegetable Frittata

  • Large Pyrex-style oven safe glassware
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, sliced in rings
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in thin circles
  • 2 cups potatoes, sliced in thin circles
  • 1 cup fresh tomato, sliced in rings
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup whole milk
  • Salt and pepper , roughly ground from peppermill
  • Dried oregano
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat your oven; set it to broil.
  2. On a frying pan, heat oil and saute the onions and garlic over a low heat until the onions begin turning clear and the garlic begins turning golden. Remove from the heat.
  3. Beat the eggs with the salt, pepper, oregano, and cayenne in a separate bowl.  Mix in milk and heavy cream.
  4. Arrange the vegetables in the Pyrex (ours was an oval shaped dish). Cover the bottom of the dish with one layer of potato circles, arranged in a spiral of overlapping potato slices. Next, layer the zucchini and tomatoes,  then pour the bell peppers over the tomatoes.  Take the onions and garlic off the pan and top off the vegetable stack.
  5. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the vegetables, leaving a 1/2 inch or an 1 inch between the top of your vegetables/eggs and the top of the dish.
  6. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the mixture.
  7. Place dish in the oven and let bake/broil for about 45 minutes.  I think it took an hour for our eggs to set completely in the middle, but it really depends on your oven.  Check the dish at 30 minutes, because it could be fully cooked.
  8. When the eggs are firm and have started to brown around the edges, remove from oven and check center of dish to see if it is fully cooked.
  9. Cut into wedges and serve with hot sauce.

Enjoy!

  • What about you? Have you ever made a frittata?
  • Did you roast the vegetables beforehand?
  • What side dishes do you usually serve with frittatas?

Newbury St. & Mass. Ave: The OTHERSIDE Cafe

It’s no wonder that this restaurant, which has been consistently ranked the best vegetarian food in Boston ranks at the top of my choices for dining out.  I have a promise with myself – every time I go to The OTHERSIDE Cafe, I choose something different on the menu.  Now, I’ve been in Boston for 3 years, it took me 1 year to find The OTHERSIDE, and since I’ve gone several times a semester.

That’s approximately 12-15 trips to The OTHERSIDE, you’d think I’d have run out of options by now, right? Wrong.

Here’s my breakdown of what’s tasty on The OTHERSIDE’S menu:

Appetizers

  1. OTHERSIDE Nachos – If you know me, you know I absolutely LOVE nachos (there’s going to be a post on nachos coming soon… I can feel it). This plate of delicious starts with a bed of tortilla chips topped with melted cheddar, jalapeños, their homemade vegetarian chili and salsa. It’s $8.00 and it took the combined efforts of me and two friends to finish this for lunch.
  2. Hummus Platter – Homemade hummus.  Usually I don’t even bother reading the rest, since homemade hummus pretty much rocks my world, but what follows deserves fair mention.  Imagine a heaping plate of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, carrots, sprouts, and lavash bread.

Soups & Stews

  1. Our Own Vegetarian Chili – I love my mom’s chili, and I tend to compare what I find in restaurants to my mother’s chili, but The OTHERSIDE doesn’t disappoint.  This chili includes two ingredients I don’t generally put in my chili: corn and bulghur wheat.  They serve their chili in two sizes, cups and bowls,  with tortilla chips on the side.

Sandwiches & Wraps

  1. Hummus Wrap – This is the dish that makes me want to break my “order – something – different – each – time” rule.  They roll up onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, sprouts, lettuce, and the homemade hummus in a delicious honey wheat wrap.  You can add tofu or tempeh to this wrap if that’s what you’re into… can’t say I’ll follow that lead, though. Despite the number of times it’s cooked for me, I cannot bring myself to enjoy the texture of either tofu or tempeh.
  2. Veggie Burrito – Remember the delicious vegetarian chili from earlier?  Add brown rice and cheddar cheese and wrap up the trio in a tortilla, and serve it on a plate with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream on the side.  Again, adding tofu is an option.
  3. Pressed Greek – Finally, I had the chance to try this sandwich.  It combined the deliciousness of a Greek salad (spinach, feta, onions, tomatoes (eek, I forgot to ask them to hold the tomatoes!), black olives, and roasted red peppers with the magic of pesto all combined and pressed on sliced focaccia bread.

Dessert

Sadly, they were out of apple pie (pie is seasonal) by the time I and my friend Jack showed up for dinner, so instead I had a vegan cheesecake, which was made with what tasted like an oreo crust.  It was surprisingly delicious though I could definitely tell that it didn’t taste like regular cheesecake.

cake

So… even though I haven’t even gotten into the breakfast menu, you have ample incentive to meander over to Newbury & Mass Ave.  Hit up The OTHERSIDE for a Saturday brunch.  Post-lunch, you can go shopping on Newbury Street!

  • Have you been to The OTHERSIDE?
  • What’s your favorite menu item?

Pan-Asian Food at Noodle Street

If any of you have ever been to Noodle Street on Commonwealth Avenue, you know that the menu might as well be a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.  When you open the menu, you first choose what type of dish you’re looking for – an entrée, a noodle dish, a rice dish, or a curry-based dish.  You can create any combination of noodles or rice, eggs, tofu, and veggies, and style of cooking.

Personally, I’m attached to the Drunken Noodle entrée, which is a noodle dish based in a spicy, basil sauce.  Because I’m picky, and I don’t like eggs in my asian food,  and nor do I like tofu (despite the number of chances I’ve given it, I can’t get past the texture), I usually get the Drunken Noodle with rice noodles, vegetables and extra vegetables.  I realize that sounds redundant to those of you unfamiliar with Noodle St.’s menu, but “vegetables & tofu” (I ask for no tofu) and “extra vegetables,” are distinct menu options.

My second favorite option here is the red curry, even though it isn’t the spiciest of the curry options.  The flavor and weight of the red curry complements my usual option of vegetables and extra vegetables, and a side of brown rice brings a nutty flavor to the food that white rice can’t compete with.  If your spice tolerance isn’t at the level mine is, the brown rice also takes some of the edge off the red curry, allowing you to devour even more in each sitting.

Finally, my third favorite option is the pad thai.  Pad thai is based on a peanut sauce, so it’s actually very mild.  It doesn’t lack for flavor though: the vegetables don’t overpower the peanut flavor of the pad thai.  It is in a completely different category from the spicy red curry or the spicy basil infused drunken noodle, and if I find myself at Noodle Street often, I welcome the change.  I like this dish with the wide noodle, even though the wide noodle itself is a type of rice noodle.

I have found that if I emphasize the “extra vegetables” part, I end up with a better ratio of vegetables to noodles than one part vegetables, 3 parts noodles. The vegetables included are fresh basil, red bell peppers, green chilis, snow peas, crinkle-cut carrots, onions, green beans and broccoli.   The combination mixes well and all of the vegetables are always cooked just right.

That being said, Noodle St. is notorious for its exceptionally cursory service.  While I’ve never received something I did not order, and I have never found anything wrong with my food, I have had to physically flag down waitresses to have my water refilled, I have had parts of my order forgotten, yet they still appeared on my bill.  The final positive side to Noodle St. is that most entrées cost around $10-$15, so it’s a completely viable restaurant dinner option for college students.

  • What’s your favorite dish at Noodle Street?
  • How do you feel about pan-Asian food in general?

Qdoba Grilled Vegetable Burrito

qdoba

First order of business – The Boston University Men’s Ice Hockey team finished with a 2-1 win against Providence this past Saturday.  Go Terriers!  As part of a promotional deal, Qdoba: Mexican Grill offered a deal for 3 days – Buy one entrée, get one free if you brought in your game ticket. I jumped at the chance to grab a fellow vegetarian friend and go have a cheap, delicious, extremely filling lunch. I’d eaten the vegetarian burrito as well as happily finished off the vegetarian taco salads in the past, but I had never tried the grilled veggie burrito.

This $5.99 burrito ($3 this time around) stuffed with an assortment of grilled vegetables provided a flavor of Mexican food I hadn’t yet encountered. The combination of seasoned red bell peppers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and onions makes the burrito feel like a more well-rounded meal than the simple lettuce/tomato/beans/salsa/rice filling of the vegetarian. Also, I fully support the Qdoba choice of 4 different salsa, ranging in spicy from mild to extra hot. My personal favorite is the hot salsa, as the flavor isn’t overpowered by the spice.

I also prefer Qdoba to Chipotle, though they sport eerily similar menus and choices for vegetarians. I’m not sure why, but I’m pretty sure it’s because I like the chips at Qdoba better. Regardless, Qdoba doesn’t provide enough vegetarian choices to make this restaurant a regular lunch place – but it is a nice spot to hit up maybe once a month … or when they have promotional deals.

India Quality – Kenmore Square

I said previously that I’ve been expanding my cooking repertoire outside the bounds of traditional Indian cooking, but I should have specified that my family comes the state of Karnataka in South India.  This restaurant, located conveniently at the east end of the Boston University campus serves North Indian cuisine, but both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.  I find restaurants with a good selection of both food styles great because there’s something forever.

The vegetarian selection is what one would expect at an Indian restaurant, and because I keep repeating my favorites, I haven’t yet tried all of the vegetarian options there.  They have over 10 different types of vegetable curry alone, as well as appetizers, specials, dinner plates, and a page of different indian breads.  The vegetable selections in the curry include potatoes, peas, spinach, chick peas, eggplant, mixed vegetables, cauliflower, and combinations of the above.  They offer at least 5 different types of naan (which is a pita-esque Indian bread) and they offer other breads as well.

The pricing is affordable for those living on a budget, especially college students. A meal for two including appetizers, two types of curry, two types of bread and a dessert will run you around $40, but that’s the amount of food I generally order for  four people.  My first couple of years here, I would go to India Quality for dinner at least twice a month – that’s not too hard on the wallet. I recommend India Quality for the college student who wants flavorful food with quick and attentive service but doesn’t want to break the bank.

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