Archives for posts with tag: Must Frequent

You’re wondering why we would review a bar for a vegetarian food site, right? We wondered the same thing until we learned that several of the people involved when Anvil Pub opened its doors were vegan or vegetarian. As a result, this pub remains extremely vegetarian friendly.

Pretty much anything on the menu can be made to suit your lifestyle. Anything but the meat, that is. And with offerings like vegan cheese, soy chicken and a black bean patty, it’s hard to find something you can’t alter to fit your needs. You can even ask for Va-Va-Vegan Chili (4.95 on its own) on the Anvil Pub Nachos (8.75), which are amazing under some vegan cheese.

Securing their ingredients personally instead of relying on an anonymous truck is only part of what makes the food here, whether meaty or meat-free, better than most “bar food” around. Anvil Pub maintains a green kitchen and avoids grease, deep fryers, and greasy fumes. Because of this core method, everything here is less greasy than standard bar fare, but then again, nothing is standard about the food at Anvil Pub. Even the “almost famous fries” are baked to crispy perfection, so don’t come lookin’ for a heart attack in a basket because all you’ll find here a piece of heaven on your plate.

Anvil Pub's green kitchen description

Anvil Pub's Veggie Burger and baked fries

Alongside those fries – or should we call them bakes? – we enjoyed the veggie burger (8.50). With a slightly spicy black bean patty, Swiss cheese, avocados and bread-n-butter pickles this is one tasty burger. Huge onion slices add texture to the squishy patty and avocado slices, and the bun is slightly crisp. The pesto ranch dressing is interesting, but not so bold as stand out against the other flavors.

Anvil Pub's Kick Ass Mac-N-CheeseA member of the wait staff recommended the Kickass Mac-N-Cheese (9.00), saying it is amazing and she recommends it to everyone who comes in. This comes with rosemary cheese toast that is perfect for dipping into the smooth and creamy sauce. The macaroni is actually penne pasta, but we can’t find fault in bigger bites of something this good. Who would have thought you could find comfort food in a bar, but this dish has just enough black pepper to keep it from getting boring. The hot cheese strings and tugs when coming out of the bowl and the sauce feels like silk in the mouth. She was correct; this is amazing.

Anvil Pub's Veggie-normous and Texas Sage pizzasBut burgers and comfort foods aren’t all this place can offer. The pizzas here are incredible, too. Veggie-normous (10.95) looks like a standard pizza – roasted peppers, mushrooms, onions and olives – but the ingredients go a step beyond. Huge mushroom chunks are great, but what really gets us talking is the sweet onion. We were talking so much and examining what we thought might be a caramelized onion that our waitress came over to make sure everything was OK. (We admit that trying to deconstruct a pizza bits at a table is a little odd, but it’s too good not to know.) Once we assured her there was no problem, she explained that the cook takes the time to simmer onions in a tomato base until the flavors infuse, then those onions go on the pizza, not in the sauce. That’s dedication to flavor!

Speaking of flavor, put the Texas Sage (9.25) on your must try list. Don’t think about it, just write it down, tell Siri, or post it to your G-cal because you can’t miss something this special. This “unexpected signature dish” tells a twisted kind of a love story to your taste buds. A little raspberry jam, sweet and a bit tangy, met a spicy jalapeno under the pepper jack and mozzarella cheese and this fantastic pizza was born. This is honestly one of the most unique and exciting flavors we’ve had in a pizza.

With a vegan crust that makes “cracker thin” look deep-dish, these 12-inch pizzas are a little big for a person to finish off in one sitting. But fear not, single diners. We’ve tested and can confirm that both pizzas hold up to reheating quite well.

Only about a year old, Anvil Pub is an instant favorite. Nothing about the menu resembles bar food, but this is a bar none-the-less. While we’re usually in it for the food, over the course of several visits the wait staff has proven to be a group of friendly, helpful people. Yes, a waiter has to be nice to make a living, but even with our random questions and crazy requests (one even gave us a menu for future reference – thank you!), every employee we met kept smiling. And when a waitress comes across the room to make sure you are OK when she sees you examining something with your knife (the previously mentioned onion) instead of running to the back room and hoping you won’t say anything, that speaks volumes about the quality experience ingrained in the culture of Anvil Pub.

The only downside, if we can call it that, is an up-charge for some of the vegetarian alterations. Paying an additional $5.00 for vegan cheese on a pizza, $3.00 for soy chicken with pasta, and $1.00 to use the “Va-Va-Vegan” chili instead of the “Family” chili seems steep, but that is more likely an issue related to the lack of commercialization in vegetarian and vegan foods than one created by the kitchen.

Unfortunately, there is no dedicated website yet, but we have it on good authority that there is pressure from within to get one going. Until then, FaceBook and Twitter will have to keep us connected. The kitchen opens at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. on the weekends, and offers a full menu until 11 p.m., then pizzas until midnight. Oh, and for our fellow nerds out there, Anvil Pub offers free Wi-Fi to its patrons. You can eat, drink, bring your friends no matter their diets, and geek out at will. So far we’ve done it all and have experienced no judgment. You really can’t go wrong here.

Parking is a little tricky with pay lots and parking meters controlling the spots in Deep Ellum, but Dart’s Green Line Deep Ellum Station is not even half a mile away. However you get here, come hungry and come often.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.

From a quick glance at the buffet, Veggie Garden looks like any other Asian restaurant at lunch time. Noodle dishes, rice dishes, hot and sour soup, this place has it all. The difference lies in the “meat” ingredients. Everything offered is vegetarian, as this is a 100% vegetarian restaurant.

We found ourselves staring at the lunch buffet options in amazement. Moo goo gai pan, combo fried rice, sweet and sour pork – all our old favorites were there, with a welcome soy twist. Of course this made it difficult to choose, but we pressed on.

The ocean tofu is tofu, and it tastes like tofu, but it is coated mild combination of spice and salt that makes it good. Eggless egg rolls are crispy and flavorful, and the glass noodles inside give them an interesting texture.

Excited to see moo goo gai pan offered, we found it underwhelming in contrast to the other dishes. The soy chicken is more apparently soy, but still has a nice flavor and texture. This is good, but other items are great.

Combo fried rice, for instance, actually tastes like standard fried rice. This says so much for the dish given the restaurant does not use chicken broth or actual meat in the prep. Filled with texture and flavor, this is a great version of an old favorite.

While good in its own way, the Chinese pancake has a texture more like that of pizza dough and less layered than those we’ve had at other restaurants. But it was next to the fried wanton, which is more like a crab rangoon, only with vegetarian filling. The exterior is chewy and surprisingly not greasy, given it is a deep-fried treat.

We find the sweet and sour pork here is better than at places that use actual pork. Crispy and chewy “pork” nuggets (soy, of course) with large pineapple chunks under a sauce that meets sweet/sour specifications without giving that nauseating tinge at the hinge of the jaw. A little spice in the sauce balances the sweet and sour flavors to make this worthy of a second trip.

And what is an Asian buffet without some variation of “Chinese doughnuts,” really? Cinnamon pillow, as this version is called, is amazing. Cinnamon and sugar on the crispy, deep-fried exterior surround a thick and doughy interior with the elasticity of a good bread. Wonderful.

Spring RollsAnd speaking of wonderful, missing the buffet is not the end of the world. The Veggie Garden menu offers a host of meatless dishes. We found that tart apples give the spring rolls ($6.95) an added crunch and unique flavor. Tofu, soy shrimp and apples with spicy peanut sauce somehow work with the spice and make a flavor/texture combination worth trying.

Sesame Soy ChickenAlso from the menu, the sesame soy chicken ($9.95) comes with steamed broccoli and rice. This tastes almost identical to the sesame chicken we loved when we ate actual meat. Sweet sauce over crispy soy chicken pieces is a perfect combination. Sure, the soy version has a slightly different internal texture than an actual chicken, but this is still amazing. And the ability to have a once-favored dish again while maintaining our vegetarian lifestyle is a gift, to say the least. This is worthy of a must frequent spot.

Soy Beef and Flat Noodles in Chinese BBQ Sauce

The soy beef in soy beef and flat noodles in Chinese BBQ sauce ($8.95) tastes a bit peppery. The noodles are the same as those found in any pad see eew, but the sauce is drastically different. A thin BBQ sauce is not sweet and makes this a nice savory dish.

According to a sign on the table, to go cups will cost a dollar, but we didn’t notice a charge for the to go boxes at dinner, of which we needed two. When we asked about the restaurant as we were checking out, we discovered it has been in business for years under various owners. The cashier described it as Richardson’s best kept secret. We’d like to go back often, so let’s all make a point to tell this secret to our friends.

Overall, this is a wonderful trip back to the dishes we enjoyed when we ate meat, only better because all the “meat” comes from soy.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for a look at Anvil Pub in Dallas, TX.

No search for meatless meals would be complete without Indian cuisine, and that’s exactly what we want to discuss this week. Indian restaurants offer so many vegetarian options it can be difficult to make a choice. But then again, that’s a good problem to have in this part of the world. After a quick “best Indian food around Dallas – GO!” request, we found a few good places we can recommend around the greater Dallas area to find this vegetarian friendly food.

In Garland, India Garden offers a lunch buffet and flavorful traditional dishes for dinner. The paneer tikka masala ($9.95) is hot pink to red, a surprising color for a lovely dish that can be ordered from no spice to hot. At a medium, this was much too spicy for the wimpy palettes of our reviewers, but when ordered mild, this dish is a long-time favorite around the VICC crowd. Another of our favorites here is the garlic naan ($3.95), which we still consider the best garlic naan in the area because of its high concentration of garlic spread evenly across each piece.

Richardson offers many restaurants, but on the advice of some friends, we tried Mumtaz. In addition to the lunch buffet, Mumtaz offers a Monday night dinner buffet. And this dinner buffet is a deal at $6.99 a person. The dal makhani and lentil soup made the favorites list, with paneer saag coming in closely behind. And what is dinner without a little halwa to top it off? Rich, beautiful and almost too sweet to finish, Mumtaz has some amazing halwa.

In North Dallas, India Chaat Café offers what may be the best plain naan ($1.50) around. It is very fluffy, to the point of feeling like two pieces combined. Thick and doughy, the chew factor gives you the gratification of an extremely fresh piece of bread. The “naancakes,” as we nicknamed them, are easily split to sop up most or all of the creamy sweet malai kofta curry ($7.99/$10.99). The vegetable balls are spicy, but with the texture of a firm hush puppy, the spicy morsels compliment the sauce perfectly. We tried a paneer wrap ($5.99), which is wrapped in that scrumptious naan. The Paneer and veggie balls (the same type as those found in the malai kofta) join lettuce, tomatoes, onions and spices to make a multi-texture wrap. Unfortunately, this is too hot for wimpy taste buds to bear and the few bites tasted were not enough to develop an opinion. But were this wrap a bit milder it has the makings of a great meal.

The Saffron House Masala DosaWhen we went to Addison we found The Saffron House, and we are in love. Papads on the table provide a sign that you are in for a treat, but a giant masala dosa ($9.50) offers the highlight of our visit. The exterior crepe is thin, just crispy, yet soft enough to use in picking up the filling, and tastes exactly like dosas from private kitchens in India. A potato and onion filling is soft and yellow with mustard seed goodness. This is the dish that can most remind taste buds of a summer abroad. The accompanying chutney is thicker than expected, but the dosa is so good it makes condiments unnecessary.

For our Dallas restaurants we tried Roti Grill, Taj Mahal and India Palace. As we walked in, Roti Grill struck us as very American and we tossed around “the Pei Wei of Indian food” in our discussion about the decoration. The food is also different, but good. Vegetable korma ($8.99/12.50) reminds us of a potpie, only with Indian spices. Creamy gravy and mixed vegetables are unlike the other kormas, but this is good in its own right. We also tried paneer saag ($8.99/$12.50). The paneer is nearly as firm as a soft mozzarella cheese and ordered mild, this is still a bit spicy. The spinach is creamy with decent sized leaves for texture. This is the first place where we’ve seen mango lassi ($1.75) with spices on top. A bit tart, the flavor is more like a mango smoothie, only thinner.

Taj Mahal Paneer Makhani, Mixed Vegetarian Curry and Aloo GobiAt Taj Mahal we are enamored with the paneer makhani ($8.95). “That’s the shiznit, there” and “yeah, wow” are how we first expressed our feelings toward this little dish of tomato heaven. Sweet and creamy tomato sauce (we ordered it mild), with Paneer as firm as a stiff mozzarella cheese, this is a new favorite that puts Taj Mahal onto the must frequent list. Aloo gobi ($8.50) is another reason to come here. Between mushy and crispy, this cauliflower and potato combination can join the comfort foods list. A thin tomato coating gives this an exciting and unexpected tang. And speaking of excitement, try not to stare at the neon in the corner. The strobing pink and purple seizure magnet detracts from the experience a bit, but the staff is friendly and the food is amazing so we’ll just do our best not to look directly at the light.

India Palace DosaFinally, we find the buffet at India Palace to exceed expectations. We found a dosa cut in half awaiting our return from the first trip through the buffet. More crispy crepe than normal, this dosa is quite flavorful. From the buffet, vegetable kofta has creamy nutty sauce with minimal spice. The vegetable and cheese balls are round and look like meatballs, but don’t be discouraged – they are delicious. Paneer here is soft and crumbles in your mouth. Tried with saag, the paneer’s homemade feel and taste is a nice compliment to the slight spice of the saag. The spice level was tolerable even for a wimpy palette. The moIndia Palace Jalebist pleasant surprise of this trip: Jalebi! This deep fried sugary goodness is like a little insulin dipped in syrup. It is so wonderful, but a little bit will do. The only way this could be better would be to have it warm. This desert is not always offered, but the $12.95 weekend buffet is worth stopping by to see if you get lucky.

This is far from a comprehensive list of Indian restaurants, but we hope it’s enough to get you started. As always, if you have a favorite restaurant or someplace you want us to check out for you, let us know and we’ll give it a shot.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for: Veggie Garden, Richardson, Texas.

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