Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Chapel

I was recently at The Chapel for my birthday. We initially thought we were there for the $5 martini happy hour (where "martini" is used loosely, and included all sorts of lovely cocktails), but it turned out everybody was hungry and we were thrilled to see that The Chapel has a reasonable food menu too.

I started with a Baby Mae "martini", which was a delicious drink made with tequila, cardamom and grapefruit juice. For my meal, I ordered a South-of-the-Border burger off of the extensive burger list, all of which can be made with a garden burger.

It was a very decadent burger!!! It was so saucy and delicious... there seemed to be three types of sauces on the well grilled patty: some tasty spicy salsa, some sort of green chili mayonnaise, and some chipotle type mayonnaise. The burger also had grilled pepper jack and lettuce and tomato. I usually shy away from too much mayo, but my goodness, it was delicious in this application.

I don't think I'd go here for dinner specifically, but it was a pleasure to discover that a real dinner could be had in the middle of happy hour, and I give them a huge thumbs up for the veggie burger option!

Chapel on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Loving Hut

After a long remodel, my beloved international district mainstay, the Vegan Garden, has been transformed into one of the sensuously named "Loving Hut" chain of vegan (Supreme Master based) restaurants.

Off the bat, I found the menu to be a little bit less appealing than the Vegan Garden's. The Loving Hut menu is composed largely of fake meats shaped like real meat parts, and has lots of deep fried morsels that look delicious but not particularly healthful. I was pleased to see that the lemongrass tofu vermicelli bowl still exists, as does a spicy soup. My dining companion ordered the soup, and was disappointed to find it came with a variety of fake meats instead of tofu. Good to know that a tofu specification needs to be made next time!

I ordered the "Guru's Curry," specially made with with soft tofu instead of vegan meat nuggets (they are willing to do this all over the menu) and found it to be fantastic. The ample plate consisted of cubes of silky custardy tofu, broccoli and cabbage drenched in a most delicious, slightly spicy, very savory yellow curry. I don't know how they make that stuff taste so good but it was addictive. I can imagine going to the Loving Hut with specific cravings for this dish.

There is definitely a "Supreme Master" bend to the place; propaganda videos play on a big TV, there are pamphlets and books to take and buy, and the fortune cookies spread Supreme Master wisdom. None of this bothers me though. I'm not sure if Supreme Master is leader of a cult, a religion, or just a state of mind, but as far as her message is understood to me, it is that being vegan is kind to the planet and fellow life, which is an idea that I generally agree with. If there is a darker or more manipulative side to the videos and messages, I'm not picking up on it (nor am I on the look out for it).

The sweet waitress brought us multiple samples of vegan baked goods through out the meal.

Supreme Master or not, chain restaurant or not, it feels really good to go to a restaurant where the entire ideology is based on veganism, and if the change-over is what needed to occur to keep this location in business, I'm happy that it happened.

Loving Hut on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The lovely T of Premium-T (and former south-end neighbor) recently suggested a meal at Tagla, AKA the Ethiopian restaurant across from the Walgreens, next door to the tattoo parlor, at the somewhat uninspiring intersection of Genesee and Rainier. Today I had the treat of lunch out with my mother, and we gave it a try.

Something that I love about Ethiopian restaurants, generally speaking, is that they seem to often be family run. Today Tagla was staffed by an older man who is the owner, a beautiful matriarch who was our waitress and also the cook, and a younger man busy working on something at a table in the corner. They were all gracious hosts and treated us like guests.
We split the vegetarian combo, which was $12 and more food than we could finish, and it came with the unexpected delight of 8 different items. There were multiple types of lentils, veggies, curries, salads etc. The greens were especially delicious, and all of the dishes had a variety of spices and flavors that were really fantastic. I appreciated that a couple of the dishes actually had a little heat to them as well. Tagla may well provide my favorite Ethiopian restaurant veggie combo yet.

Something exciting for the vegans is that Tagla's default is to use oil in their vegetarian dishes, and butter in their meat dishes, so it should be easy to get a satisfying vegan meal here.

The location leaves a bit to be desired, but they have been in business for many years so something must be working.

Tagla Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Had lunch today at Awash, an Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurant across the street from Empire Espresso in Columbia City. The meal was tasty and reasonably priced, and I don't really understand why my dining companion and I were the only patrons in the place. We split the veggie combo, and it came with an additional plate heaped with injera that made us both waddle full.

The veggie platter came with three different types of lentils, curried potatoes, greens, okra and the typical sort of Ethiopian restaurant Romain lettuce salad with the lemon salt dressing I love so much.

The food was good... lots of variety and flavor and not too salty. Again, I wonder, where was everybody?

As the only lunch patrons we were lavished individual service, and were brought a personal space heater for our table region because it was a particularly cold day.

I asked the nice older waitress about the situation with the use of niter kebbeh (clarified butter), and she said that they do indeed (unfortunately for the vegans) use it.

Awash on Urbanspoon