Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Local 44 in Philly: Vegan what!?!!

Local 44
4333 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(at the corner of 44th & Spruce)

Phone: (215)222-BEER

From downtown Philly we took the 42 Bus up a few dozen blocks to go to Local 44 for brunch. The place is a beer bar with an amazing beer selection and a vegan friendly menu.

Don't let the pictures on their website fool you - the place was divey enough to make me happy. Our bartender was quite a nice guy who knew a lot about beer. I should add that I felt everyone we came across in Philly was very nice.

I got the seitan reuben:
I'm a sucker for reubens, and this one was just right, with sauerkraut and dressing on perfectly toasted rye.

Marya got the vegan breakfast special with tofu scramble, homefries, and toast:
She added the Ro*Tel vegan Queso. Quite good!

And we've seen some crazy stuff veganized in our short time as vegans, but this has to be the oddest. Vegan scrapple:
It's made with shitake mushrooms. I was surprised how it reminded me of the pork scrapple I had years ago. But, of course, pork scrapple is made from offal and not something you really want near your mouth. But the shitake scrapple is awesome.

And they make a bloody mary that pleased this harsh critic:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Philly: Chicken & Waffles, Cheese Steaks, Pizza, and Cupcakes!

Note: [control]-click on each image to expand it.

We loved Philly. We'd been discussing for weeks where we'd go when we finally got there. Chicken and waffles? Check. A totally vegan pizzeria? Definitely. Plus, a quest for the ultimate vegan Philly cheese steak.

Mi Lah Vegetarian
218 S 16th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Phone: (215) 732-8888

Back in my non-vegan days, had I ever happened upon chicken and waffles, I probably would have kept moving. But as a vegan, the thought intrigued me. So we had to visit Mi Lah Vegetarian. Don't let the word "Vegetarian" in the name fool you - it's all vegan.

Mi Lah doesn't serve alcohol, but they are BYOB. I wondered if they'd allow us to bring our entire bloody mary kit and serve ourselves up a few.

When you're seated for brunch, they'll first serve you a lovely little plate of fruit:

Click this image to see the brunch menu:

Here's their Yards beer battered seitan on Belgian waffles with fruit salad:
It was all I'd hoped it would be. I was impressed, particularly with the seitan.

Marya ordered the (deep breath) veggie sausage with avocado on oven-fresh biscuits with mushroom gravy with red bliss sweet potato home fries and bronzed coconut king mushroom:

A unique and delicious twist on the traditional biscuits and gravy.

Blackbird Pizzeria
507 s 6th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Phone: (215) 625-6660

Blackbird Pizzeria is all vegan pizzeria. You read that right. True, the words "vegan" and "pizzeria" aren't normally in the same sentence, let alone next to each other. Let's hope Blackbird is the first among scads more to change that.

Like Mi Lah, Blackbird doesn't serve alcohol. I'm not sure, however, if they allow BYOB.

Look at this amazing selection on their chalkboard:
Okay, next time I've got to try the tofu cubano, or mayhaps the eggplant grinder.

I got some slices of what they had on hand. Can't recall what they were, but they were delicious.

Click on this image and download the full sized pic and use it as wallpaper:

Marya got the Philly Cheese Steak, which exceeded expectations:

I spoke briefly to a guy behind the counter who said they'd just opened late last year and the business has really taken off. Cool.

Sweet Freedom Bakery
1424 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Phone: (215) 545-1899

Going in knew Philadelphia was above average in vegan options, but we had no idea we'd just stumble across a totally vegan and gluten free bakery.

Sweet Freedom is not only vegan and gluten free, they're also soy, corn, peanut, and refined sugar free.
Nice to know there's a place where none of the ingredients are scary, unrecognizable, or sound like they were created in a lab by Dupont. Nice to not have to sacrifice health for taste.

We spoke to the folks a while, and walked out with an oatmeal raisin cookie with vanilla filling seen on the far left of the above picture (yes, we paid for it). It was fantastic.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Awesome Philly! Stop 1: Horizons

Whew! I've not had a lot of time to blog much these days. I've got quite the backlog of stuff I've got to blog about.

Philly is amazing! Vegan options galore! We recently traveled there for the annual Green Carpet Gala hosted by the Peace Advocacy Network. They're a great organization, and we looked at attending their gala as an opportunity to support them and finally check out all the vegan places in Philly we've only read about.

Our first stop was at the famed fine dining vegan restaurant, Horizons.

611 S. 7th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Phone: (215) 923-6117

As usual, we're overwhelmed by the fact that we could eat everything on the menu. We did what we could. We started by ordering two appetizers to share. I should add that they've got a very nice wine selection with something to pair with anything on the menu.

Marya selected this portobella carpaccio with salsa rustica and croustini:

And I ordered the ramen bowl with bok choy and pho broth. They had me at pho.

Then, Marya had this pan-seared tofu with a mushroom and brussel sprout sauce:
This isn't on their menu anymore, btw, but they appear to always have an entree featuring pan-seared tofu.

And I got this mushroom reuben:
Can't say it tasted a great deal like a reuben, but it disappeared quickly all the same.

For dessert I ordered the apricot crisp cheesecake:
Yes, it's vegan!!!

And Marya ordered this (Yes, this is vegan too!!!) crème brûlée:

I noticed on their drink menu a cocktail featuring two beverages from the local distillery, so I had to order it:
This was the "Corpse Reviver" featuring Blue Coat Gin and Vieux Carré Absinthe from Philadelphia Distilling. After drinking it, I felt strangely anything but revived. But I did enjoy it.

Their menu changes with the seasons, so many of the above dishes aren't available anymore. At last check the carpaccio and the ramen are still available. The cheesecakes are ever evolving, as is the crème brûlée. We'll certainly make a point to go to Horizons every time we're in town.

More posts on Philly to come!