The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: hip

Flower Child

I started hearing about Flower Child from friends and acquaintances. My first thought was, it’s such a pretty name. “Flower Child” harkens back to the days of hippie freedom, organic living, love for Mother Earth, and so on. It is a fitting name for this restaurant, I think, because the food has a youthful flair to it. It is piquant and playful, full of flavor and texture contrasts… Definitely more hip than hippy, I think.

I sent a note to the restaurant asking if I could come in for a chef’s tasting. I got a prompt response: an invitation to lunch.

It was a cool spring morning in March when I showed up at Flower Child, Sandy Springs. I instantly fell in love with the high, airy interiors, tall industrial lamp fixtures, houseplants and knickknacks decorating the windows, casual seating, cheerful waitstaff. I introduced myself to the girl at the counter. She went and spoke with the manager Mark who came over right away and welcomed me.

I skimmed through the menu and ordered a mango-pineapple fresh juice (no sugar added), a small plate of Grilled Asparagus, and the Glow Bowl. I am not one for consuming liquids with meals (save warm herbal tea, sometimes) but I was unable to resist this fresh juice combination of two of my favorite fruits, yum. The juice was tangy and delicious. What it lacked for in sugary sweetness, it made up with freshness and flavor. I loved the juice but I was sorely disappointed to see that the glass was made from thin plastic (Grade 1, non-recyclable). I wish they’d used a glass tumbler instead. It would have been simple, elegant, eco-friendly, and sustainable.

The food arrived quick. The asparagus spears were crunchy and delicious, grill marks included. It was served with farro, barley and red quinoa, flavored with ginger miso. The dish had a gentle heat, and I enjoyed the combination of crisp asparagus and chewy ancient grains. In contrast, the Glow Bowl was a delicious Pad Thai-style preparation of sweet potato noodles in coconut milk, sunflower butter, bok choy, zucchini, onion, and shiitake mushrooms, spiced with jalapeños. It was comforting and delicious, and I marveled at the light texture of the sweet potato noodles. Worth replicating at home, I think!

I alternated between one dish and the other, taking a good long time to chew thoroughly and savor the flavors.

Mark came over to ask if I was enjoying the food. I could only nod, mouth full, happy smile on face. He mentioned that they served a vegan, gluten-free chocolate pudding made from coconut cream, cocoa powder and dark chocolate, flavored with vanilla paste, served with shaved coconut and sprouted almonds. How could I say no to that? The pudding was smooth and creamy, lightly sweetened, and absolutely delicious. I was sorely tempted to eat it all but I decided to be a good spouse who shared freely with her partner. I ate a little, and saved the rest to take home to my husband. (He loved it, although he wished it was less sweet). Alas, this pudding also came in a plastic, non-recyclable container, sigh.

I loved visiting Flower Child and eating there. I found the food light and playful, delicious, and full of flavor. I adored the cheerful, sun-lit space, large windows, and the wood-marble seating. I’d love to see if/how their menu changes seasonally, and if they will incorporate local ingredients and recipes into their menu.

Wondering when I can make another trip!

Flower Child
6400 Bluestone Rd #170
Sandy Springs GA 30328

470-481-7850
www.iamaflowerchild.com

Five40 Kitchen and Social House

I came to know about Five40 Kitchen and Social House a few weeks ago. The menu sounded hip and interesting even though it had only a handful of vegetarian options. The website is minimalist in design. (Some would call it ‘sparse’). And the chef Bhavesh Patel is of Indian origin. Plus, best of all, it is very close to where I live.

Five40 Kitchen and Social House

Five40 Kitchen and Social House

Made plans to go with others but none materialized. Finally, I decided to brave the horrible lunchtime traffic on Barrett Parkway and go to 540 Tapas all by myself for a weekday afternoon meal. That plan finally came to fruition today.

I had contacted the chef earlier to let him know that I wished to write about 540 Tapas on this blog. So he knew beforehand that I’d be coming. When I entered the restaurant, I was greeted by Dipesh, the bartender (I guess). I told him that I didn’t drink alcohol and asked if they had any non-alcoholic drinks on the menu. They didn’t have any but he offered to make one for me. I asked if he could include ginger and mint. Soon enough, a slim glass appeared on my table.

Ginger Mint Mocktail

Ginger Mint Mocktail

Fizzy and light, my special drink featured sharp ginger ale and fresh mint leaves and a bunch of ice cubes. It was tangy and spicy, hitting all the right notes on a dull day. I hardly ever order drinks at a restaurant (not even the non-alcoholic kind), preferring to stick to a glass of regular water, so this was a new experience for me.

On to the food…
I would have liked to order the Orchietta (short rib, butternut squash, truffle butter, mushrooms), sans the short rib. However, I was told that that the sauce is meat-based. Ahh, well… sounds like a delicious combination! The soup of the day was a cold tomato gazpacho. Didn’t feel like the right day for a cold soup, hmmm. Finally, I asked for a Kale salad with lemongrass honey, star anise and orange and an Heirloom Tomato Salad with basil oil, basil seeds, smoked tomato and mozzarella.

The Kale salad is a nice, medium-sized bowl of finely shredded kale and orange slices, laced with a sweet-tangy vinaigrette and garnished with almond slivers. I wonder if the sweetness of the vinaigrette owed itself to the lemongrass honey. A tad too tart for my taste, I thought. But the kale had a great crispness to it. Wasn’t tough, wasn’t soggy, wasn’t inordinately leafy. I couldn’t detect any anise flavors in the salad, though.

Kale Salad

Kale Salad

Adored the Heirloom Tomato Salad wholeheartedly. Smoked tomatoes have a slightly charred taste that is almost indiscernible. The salad featured regular mozzarella but I wonder if buffalo mozzarella would have been a better choice. Mixed greens, a dash of pesto (would have liked more of it) and a little pile of rehydrated basil seeds (gelee) completed the pretty picture.

Smoked Tomato Salad

Smoked Tomato Salad

Halfway through the meal, the chef sauntered by. Chef Bhavesh Patel has lived in London, Miami and Atlanta. I asked if he visited India often. Hardly, he said. His family is based in Gujarat, India. I suppose, as a food blogger, I should have asked him about culinary training, inspiration, etc. Well, we had a regular conversation where I asked him none of those chef-blogger questions. By the way, Chef Patel bears a close resemblance to this young Bollywood hero right down to the smile… 🙂

Chef Bhavesh patel

Chef Bhavesh patel

I asked him if the little pile of basil seeds is what goes as “takmaria” in India. Without batting an eyelid, he responded, “Yes.” The guy may not have visited India but he sure knows Indian food. I was suitably impressed. Not many people, Indian or otherwise, are necessarily familiar with these little chia-like seeds (also known as “subza”) that flavor cooling summer drinks and desserts in India and other parts of Asia.

Couldn’t pass up dessert, could I? I opted for an strawberry shortcake ice cream sandwich. A nice generous portion that I wasn’t intending to finish… but I did. A perfect sweet ending to a good meal.

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwich

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwich

The bill amounted to roughly $29. Not cheap by any standards, I think. I had a Scoutmob coupon that shaved $10 off the bill. Aah, well.

Hoping that Chef Patel will take my feedback and incorporate more vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu!

Five40 Kitchen and Social House
840 Ernest W Barrett Parkway NW, Suite 540
Kennesaw GA 30144
678-290-8224

www.540tapas.com
Five40 Kitchen & Social House on Urbanspoon

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