Amy & Tim Visit Veggie Grill

This evening Tim and I strolled along the Westbank Esplanade and ventured into downtown Portland to enjoy dinner at the brand new Veggie Grill. It was their official first day of business so our food was free! If you aren’t familiar with Veggie Grill, they serve 100% plant-based American comfort food including soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and desserts.

Portland now has two Veggie Grill locations (the other one is in the suburbs). According to the manager, they hope to add a third location… On my side of town! What I love most about the downtown location is that it used to be a disgusting, greasy, stinky Carl’s Jr. (a nasty meat-centric fast food chain). When I worked downtown, I had to walk past it every day and it smelled terrible. Now it’s a snazzy, sparkling clean, vegan establishment! Talk about an awesome transition!!

Tim and I were greeted with countless smiles and a positive atmosphere as soon as we stepped through the front door. If you don’t know me well, I should make it clear that I tend to have a hefty dose of negativity controlling me more often than not. I’m working on fixing that, but it’s a tough challenge. This is what a happy Veggie Grill environment does for a moody Amy:

That’s a genuine smile! Tim was looped out on lemonade all night. I am pretty certain he had at least six glasses. At the end of the evening, he was mixing his own concoctions of iced teas and lemonades.

Veggie Grill has a nice flow. You walk in, grab a menu, order at the counter, take a number, and find a seat. When your food is ready, they bring it to your table. It’s effortless. While Tim and I were waiting for our food, we were treated to samples of menu items. I think we tried Spicy Buffalo Wings and Crab Cakes. I have never tasted the animal-based versions of either (thankfully!) so I don’t have much to compare them to, but they were very tasty. It’s fun to sample items I know I wouldn’t order on my own. I tend to find a favorite and stick to it – something else I am trying to fix! After tasting samples, our food arrived (the wait was less than 15 minutes)!!

I opted for the Bayou Chickin’ ($8.95) and a side of Sweetheart Fries with Chipotle Ranch Sauce ($2.25). My sandwich contained blackened chickin’, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, and spicy vegan mayo. Being the raw onion and tomato hater that I am, they kindly left those off my sandwich. I really, really enjoyed my meal. It was messy, spicy, nicely portioned, and didn’t leave me feeling like I ate a brick. Tim had to help me finish the sweet potato fries, but hey, that’s why I brought him along!! Kidding…

Tim was a bit more adventurous in his choice:

What you see above is the All-American Stack ($8.95), also with a side of Sweetheart Fries. This towering burger has a grilled veggie-steak, pickles, lettuce, tomato, crispy onion rings, and thousand island dressing. On our walk downtown, Tim kept singing about onion rings so I am pretty sure he liked his meal too!!

The best part about our dinner was our table. We picked a spot that abutted a huge wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that line the sidewalk. It was so entertaining to watch folks walk by and stare in with curiosity and perhaps vegan envy! My favorite passer-by was an elderly man who paused right in front of us and gave us a thumbs-up, essentially asking us if our meal was top-notch. Of course, we gave him a double thumbs-up in return! I truly hope this location thrives because the big windows have the potential to lure in omnivores and turn them into herbivores! One can always hope…

As we were closing in on finishing our meals, an employee brought us a plate of desserts to sample! Take a plate away, replace it with a new one!

This isn’t the best photo to represent our sweet ending, but we definitely devoured the Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Pudding (which is usually served parfait-style). I even considered licking the bowl, but Tim said that would be inappropriate. Hmpf.

Even though our entire meal was free (THANK YOU, Veggie Grill!!), I would happily return as a paying and loyal customer. I just need to find a job first! Maybe if/when Veggie Grill opens in my neighborhood I can work there?

On our 3-mile walk home, Tim and I enjoyed a view of Mt. Hood across the Willamette River. We even saw a fluffy lil’ gosling, but he was too far away for a proper photograph. Here is my beloved Mt. Hood (way in the distance):

I will sleep well tonight!

A Shredded Review

Last month, Galaxy Nutritional Foods contacted me to see if I would be interested in trying their new line of vegan shredded cheese. I happily accepted their generous offer while simultaneously envisioning pizza, tacos, and quesadillas on my plate.

Now, admittedly, I don’t like vegan cheese very much (crazy nonsense, I know!). Tim and I rarely purchase it because we try to avoid processed foods. But, there is always room for exceptions. Plus, it’s fun to snazz up our meals with specialty items from time to time.

I received two flavors: Mozzarella and Mexican. Both varieties are soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Since I am an enthusiastic snacker, I decided to try the cheese straight from the bag. The verdict? It was powdery and dry. I attribute this to cornstarch, which is one of the main ingredients. I don’t think this is a problem though because most people don’t eat shredded cheese as a snack. The ultimate test was to see if it melted on a pizza:

We used the mozzarella flavor and it definitely melted! Unfortunately, it also stuck to my teeth – a lot. I don’t like it when food adheres my teeth. Pizza is one of my favorite meals and when one of the components sticks to every surface of my mouth, it ruins everything (touch dramatic?). The flavor was mild, very similar to Daiya. I thought this was a plus because when I eat pizza, I like to taste the fresh veggies and sauce.

Next, we sampled the Mexican flavor. Tim and I both love tacos and quesadillas, so we made both over the course of a few weeks. You can see how well the cheese melts in this spinach quesadilla:

A few days later, we made tacos. We just sprinkled the cheese on top, so it didn’t melt:

I was expecting the Mexican variety to taste different than the mozzarella but it tasted exactly the same. The ingredients for both cheeses are very similar. The only noticeable difference is the color. I was bummed because I really wanted a spicy kick to my quesadillas and tacos!!

Overall, I was disappointed with Galaxy’s new shredded cheese. Maybe I am fussy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that both cheeses melt so well and are allergen-free. I also fully support more vegan food products on the market. But, I just can’t get past teeth coated in cheese glue. I will “stick” to making my own cheeses or occasionally splurging on Follow Your Heart brand.

I would like to thank Galaxy Nutritional Foods for sending me samples of their new shredded cheeses. Despite my review, I think everybody has their own preferences and tastes. Please don’t hesitate to give these new cheeses a try for yourself.