Tag: vegetarian (page 2 of 6)

Vegetarian Eats, Savannah Edition – Part 1

Isn’t it shameful that I have lived more than nine years in the Peach State, and not once have I visited Savannah? I suppose it was one of those places that we thought we’d visit some weekend but never ended up doing so. Anyway, that was rectified this last weekend when P’s cousin came a-visiting. We traipsed all around Atlanta: checking in at the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola, driving to Tucker so she could get a spiffy new haircut at Studio Sarita, tucking into South Indian fare at Udipi Cafe, Smyrna. The weekend was reserved for Savannah.

Set out on Friday evening, arrived in Downtown Savannah close to midnight. The starched sheets and covers at Springhill Suites were sweet luxury! Such a relief to fall into bed after a long drive…

Saturday was the loveliest day ever… golden sunshine, brilliant and luminous! We walked through Downtown, checking out the cool apparel and gift stores. Pacing down Broughton Street, we chanced on The Coffee Fox and decided to stop for breakfast. A good decision, indeed. Such a cool space with a huge collage wall, riveted metal swivel chairs, dark walls, wooden floors and delicious snacks and coffee. Vegan Brownie! Fig + Chocolate Scones! Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies! Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies… Oh Yum.

The Coffee Fox, Downtown Savannah

The Coffee Fox, Downtown Savannah

P ordered a cup of Cafe Con Leche (with soy milk) while his cousin got hot chocolate. I went a little crazy ordering Kolache with cheese, one vegan chocolate chip cookie, and a fig + chocolate scone. Well, the plan was to split them between the three of us, so not all that crazy. I sneaked sips from P’s Cafe Con Leche. It was pretty good (considering how unfamiliar I am with the sophisticated world that coffee aficianados inhabit) but I would have liked it with regular milk. Kolache is a baked sweet pastry filled with cheese. It was strictly so-so, one of those baked goodies that goes well with coffee but does not necessarily stand up to scrutiny by itself. The vegan chocolate chip cookie was The Bomb! Soft and crumbly, mildly sweet, rich with the taste of chocolate… A Most Excellent Cookie Indeed.

Our hunger sated, we tramped off. Walked along the gorgeous blue river, sauntered in and out of candy and specialty stores, took pictures with the gulls, checked out artist studios and their wares in City Market… and then it was time for lunch. Walked back to Broughton and stepped into Ruan Thai.

No sooner had we walked in and placed our orders, a huge Asian family with close to 20 members came in. The smiles on the faces of the hostesses couldn’t have been wider. At Ruan, $10.95 gets you a lunch entree with a choice of soup or a spring roll. That day, there was a choice between Coconut Soup and Lemongrass Soup. P selected Lemongrass while his cousin and I opted for a Spring Roll each. For the entrees, we went with Thai Ginger, Garlic Lover and Drunken Noodles. The food came super-fast. Piping hot, perfectly spiced, light and hearty… I think Thai food is a lifesaver for vegetarians. It is generally choc-a-full of lightly cooked crunchy vegetables, light (unless you pick the coconut-based curries), easy on the wallet. P’s Lemongrass soup was tangy and sour-spicy, reminiscent of the South Indian rasam, mushrooms and green onion added!

Ruan Thai, Downtown Savannah

Ruan Thai, Downtown Savannah

In the afternoon, we went to Tybee Island. There were few people on the beach. The wind was chilly and persistent but the sun blazed on. The light was perfect, the blue of the sky mirrored in the ocean waters below. It was a gem of a day, one that I will remember for a long time to come.

Next up… Kayak Cafe and Pakwan Indian Cuisine, Savannah!

Lunching at Persepolis

When you drive along Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, you pass a stretch of Middle Eastern grocery stores, gyro joints, restaurants, etc. There is Rumi’s Kitchen, Makara, Fanoos, Shahrzad… then Persepolis. Actually, you may encounter Persepolis first, depending on the direction you come from, of course. Anyway, Persepolis was where Grant and I decided to meet for lunch. Grant and his lovely wife Marie write Marie Let’s Eat, a travel-food-restaurant blog based in and around Atlanta and the greater South. I think ‘Marie Let’s Eat’ has to be cutest name for a site. It conveys love, gusto, enthusiasm and zest… for life, food, each other, what have you. When Grant suggested meeting up, I scouted online for new restaurants and found that Persepolis’s menu had a vegetarian section. I was sold. So off we went.

We walked into the restaurant just when it had opened its doors for lunch. The decor is simple at Persepolis. Think oil paintings, large vases of flowers, instrumental music with Middle Eastern beats and rhythms, fragrance of grilled vegetables wafting through… Grant surveyed the lunch buffet and found it to his liking, so he went ahead and filled his plate. I ordered the Must-O-Mooseer and the Vegetarian Zereshk Polo. The restaurant was empty when we walked in but within minutes, it filled up. An old couple, then a family with kids and women in headscarves, a group of friends… soon enough, the dining room was bustling with noise and activity, servers rushing with plates of flatbread and glasses of water, etc.

Our server first brought us a plate with a giant flat bread, its surface flecked with little black seeds. Nigella seeds, maybe? A little later, a platter with herbs, cheese, little slabs of butter, soaked almonds and sliced radish was brought to the table. I wish the flatbread and the second platter had arrived together. Then came my order of Must-O-Mooseer. I broke pieces of the flatbread, layered it with sliced radish and almonds, dipped into the Must-O-Mooseer and tucked in. Not bad at all. The cheese was too tart for my taste, so I gave it a pass. Must-O-Mooseer is a bowl of diced sun-dried shallots mixed with yogurt and spices. Our server mentioned that it is generally eaten as a dip with flat bread. But $5.99 for a bowl of shallot-spiced yogurt is too steep, in my opinion.

Lunch at Persepolis

Next up was my platter of Vegetarian Zereshk Polo. I was intrigued by the menu description that went ‘Basmati rice steam cooked with barberries which are sauteed in a special glazed saffron sauce. A sweet and sour dish with a skewer of two vegetable kabobs.’ For $13.99 this one better be worth it, I thought. I need not have worried. See for yourself.

Vegetarian Zereshk Polo

As I discovered, barberries taste similar to cranberries. Tangy and sweet in equal parts, they made an interesting addition to the Saffron Basmati Pulao (I am guessing that ‘Polo’ is Persian for ‘Pulav?’). The rice was cooked to perfection, the skewer of grilled kabobs providing the crunch and quintessential burn marks to make the dish attractive and eye-catching. This is a huge platter, half of which came home with me. Looking forward to leftovers tonight!

Will I visit Persepolis again? I don’t know. There is another vegetarian dish on the menu that includes basmati rice, cooked lentils, sauced raisins, onions and vegetable kabobs… Mmm, tempting! Then there is dessert that we skipped this time. How do you like the sound of traditional Persian sweet fritters and ladyfingers made of honey, yogurt, saffron and rosewater? Maybe another visit will happen, Inshallah!

Persepolis Persian Cuisine
6435 Roswell Rd NE
Atlanta GA 30328

Chat Patti Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

Sure, the pictures can do the talking but they aren’t being truthful, sorry to say.

Chat Patti is a vegetarian restaurant nestled in a busy strip mall in North Druid Hills. It is a busy place, people streaming in and out, orders placed and delivered over the full counter, servers cleaning up promptly. The clientele is mixed, Indians and others, students and professionals, residents and visiting parents… 🙂

Chat Patti has an extensive menu covering snacks, appetizers, South Indian tiffin dishes, North Indian thali, chaat, dessert. I can’t recall the last time we visited. It must have been a couple of years ago. Anyway, we were in the neighborhood and decided to stop by.

What a Spread!

We ordered Puri-Shrikhand, Patra Plate, Masala Vada, Bhel Puri, Sabudana Khichdi, Alu Tikki and tea. I must admit, the tea was the best part of the meal. Steaming hot, spiced with masala and ginger… I am a sucker for good tea. I have a high standard, though. It has to be boiled to the perfect milk-water consistency, it should be well-brewed but not bitter, and it should leave a gentle heat coursing down the throat. Yeah, I have the recipe for my perfect cuppa down to a science, precise!

Daddy got the Puri-Shrikhand (top left). He said it was okay, but knowing Daddy’s accommodating taste buds, I really wonder. Have never seen such yellow puris before! The Bhel Puri (top right) was too spicy, the sev too thick. The Sabudana Khichdi (mid, right) was undercooked and underspiced. The sago pearls were too tough. The Patra Plate (mid, right, lower) was quite nice, although it tasted a little old. The Masala Vada (low, right) was high on garlic and little else. As for the Alu Tikki (low, left), the Tikki was nothing more than cooked potato, bright yellow with turmeric. The accompanying Chhole was fairly decent but the chutneys lacked freshness.

Daddy got a bowl of Rasmalai (he ALWAYS gets dessert). He polished it off within minutes but he has a huge sweet tooth, so I wonder how it actually tasted.

P told me that when he was a student at Georgia Tech, he used to frequent Chat Patti frequently. Maybe he didn’t have too many options for Indian food those days. Anyway, this time, he ended up wishing that we’d driven further north and eaten at our favorite chaat joint Mumbai Masala instead… 🙁

Chat Patti
1594-F, Woodcliff Dr NE,
Atlanta GA 30329

Vatica Indian Vegetarian Cuisine

Six years ago, I wrote a post about Vatica, a quaint little Indian vegetarian restaurant nestled in a nondescript strip mall in Marietta. I even created a fan group for the restaurant on Facebook! Today, the restaurant is as busy, if not busier, serving home-style Indian vegetarian food to delighted customers. Vatica is busy in the afternoons, as the hungry office crowd surges in, looking for a homely bite. And they get it at Vatica. The food is simple, unpretentious and a lot like what many Indians eat at home. Saag paneer and chhole are not what we eat on a daily basis unlike what the menus at Indian restaurants might lead one to believe. Dal, sabzi, rotis, yogurt, pickle (the Indian kind, not kosher dill spears!), salad. Simple fare, yes.

Dropped in at Vatica a couple of weeks ago. As always, Dhiru Uncle welcomed me warmly. As I awaited my order of lunch thali, he sat across the table and chatted with me. Uncle is always up for fun and adventure. Constantly hatching new plans and ideas, he is choc-a-full of energy and enthusiasm and good cheer. Soon enough, the thali came to my table.

Indian lunch thali

The food was exactly like I remembered it. The dal was wonderful, hearty and tasting just like home. The vegetables were lightly spiced but a little low on flavor, I thought. The dessert was a delicious ghee-sugar-rice (or tapioca?) concoction. You can ask the server to refill the bowls but I opted not to. It was too late enough in the afternoon to succumb to gluttony! As little as I ate, I felt weighed down, as if I had overeaten. Maybe it was the rice that did it. The lunch thali costs a little over $9, if I remember right. A tad expensive, in my opinion.

Nevertheless, Vatica offers a unique dining experience and I doubt there is any other eatery like it in metro Atlanta. You can pick up a packet of Indian snacks, munch on a healthy date-nut roll (or two), even place an order for an eggless cake! Didn’t I mention that Dhiru Uncle is full of ideas and ingenuity?

Vatica Indian Vegetarian Cuisine
1475 Terrell Mill Rd, Suite 105
Marietta GA 30067

Phone: 770-955-3740