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Pulse Cafe, Somerville

A few months ago I learned about a new vegan restaurant called Pulse Cafe that opened in Somerville’s Davis Square, and have had it on my “must visit” restaurant list ever since. Reading a recent article on Hegans (he-vegans) in the Boston Globe reminded me about this restaurant so Funk and I headed there for a Saturday night date. The small restaurant was packed but we were seated quickly.

We started off with the Incan Salad which was loaded with quinoa, black beans, roasted corn (which didn’t seem roasted to me), and poblano chiles (don’t remember anything spicy) on a bed of romaine with an agave-lime dressing and a few tortilla chips. The ingredients in the salad were good, but the dressing was barely there. We were famished, so we scarfed it down. DSC_0015

I ordered the Barbecue Seitan which came with mashed potatoes and green beans, while Funk ordered the Chimichana. We were were surprised to see this was pretty much a burrito filled with ground seitan, refried beans, shredded cashew jack, brown rice, peppers and onions, served with sour cream (vegan) and kale. Funk and I typically order two dishes we both want, eat half, and then swap plates.

The seitan was delicious and made right in the restaurant. I loved the tangy, zesty BBQ sauce and felt like I was having a typical meat n’ potatoes meal. I don’t typically gravitate towards mashed potatoes, but these were good. The green beans were…plain. Don’t get me wrong, I eat my veggies plain all the time, but when I go to a restaurant I expect a little more than veggies that were merely steamed. I also think if you’re going to try to entice people to eat meat-free meals, you have to make the vegetables – the “meat” of the meal – delicious! DSC_0016

Funk’s chimichana was good. I didn’t care for the sour cream but he did. And I was so excited for the sautéed kale, which once again, was plain. It was tough even for me to enjoy naked kale. DSC_0019

We started to notice people coming in to eat and then promptly leaving. After this happened a few times, we heard it was because the restaurant ran out of food. At 8:45pm! Kudos to them for having such a large crowd, but ouch. Bad business. When we asked for the dessert menu, we learned the were out of the sweet stuff too. Bummer! 

I don’t typically give negative food reviews on this blog. I guess I had very high expectations for this restaurant and was so excited for the new vegan hot spot on the block. I think it has a lot of potential in Davis Square, which is swarming with Tufts students and unique restaurants. I do plan on returning, especially when Pulse Cafe opens its doors for Sunday Brunch, but I do hope they jazz up their veggies a bit and make sure they are prepared for a crowd before then! 

Prana Raw Cafe in Newton, MA

On Saturday night, despite warnings of a blizzard (seriously, New England, that’s a bit dramatic), Funk and I decided to check out Newton, MA’s raw food restaurant, Prana Raw. I’ve been wanting to try it for months, but they just opened for dinner making it that much more feasible for us to go. So we bundled up and headed out.

To our surprise, Prana Raw’s dining room was empty except for us! But it was probably because everyone was freaking out over the snow…that we get every year…we’re not D.C. people. Our waitress told us they get a good lunch crowd but we didn’t mind being the center of attention, in the center of the dining room, and got to chat lots with our raw-foodie Brazilian waitress.

I was a very unprepared food Blogger and completely forgot my camera for food photography. So I snapped some weak photos on my phone. I also didn’t write down any descriptions of the food (and only the lunch menu is online) so bear with my fuzzy memory.

Funk and I started off with squash ravioli with a cashew cream sauce. They were soft and flavorful and very light. We shared our entrees: savory portabella and spinach crepes and a portabella mushroom with a side of broccoli and some parsnip mash. Funk loved the crepes, I loved the parsnip mash. One of the entrees, I think the crepes, was extra heavy on the garlic, which I don’t love. I also don’t love waking up with garlic breath the next day, which I did. It was that strong.

Because our food was room temperature at its hottest, our meal was a bit…chilly. No wonder nobody dines there on the night of a potential snowstorm! If you’re looking to warm up with some comfort food, maybe save Prana Raw for a hot summer day instead.

Our waitress recommended we have the chocolate torte with crème anglaise for dessert and we took it to go (photo from Pranaraw.com). It was very rich and tasted like a chocolate truffle. We left with very full bellies.

Raw food lifestyles really intrigue me. The food isn’t cooked above 112 degrees and the meals are all vegan. This restaurant was started by a husband and wife team who also own the Prana Power Yoga Studio next door (and we got a free yoga class pass from our waitress!). Here’s a blurb from the website:

But instead of defining raw vegan by what we don’t eat, it’s much more fun to talk about what we DO eat, which is the best, most vibrant, most delicious, and most energizing food ever.

Just about every single thing that you’ve eaten cooked, we can create raw at The Prana Raw Café. That’s why it’s not about restriction at all, but about ADDING IN the best, healthiest, most vibrant, and energizing ingredients ever, to make the same things you’ve always loved—and will continue to, but while shedding unwanted pounds, having more energy, and reversing the aging process. (Yes, Sister, you heard me right. Go ahead, re-read that last sentence.)
How do we make our food if we don’t cook it and if we don’t use animal products?
We use super-cool high-speed blenders, super-fast juicers that maintain all of the minerals and nutrients, and dehydrate some foods in lieu of baking, broiling, frying, toasting, roasting, broasting, or microwaving (gasp!) them.

But none of this really matters so much as how the food tastes. And we’re here to tell you that it’s the best food ever. Ever!

Funk and I debated whether or not we could go raw for a month-long experiment but nothing more. It’s a bit time consuming and restrictive, but it’d be interesting to try. It has crossed my mind before, but I think I’d have to wait until the summertime when fresh produce is in abundance, and I don’t need a hot bowl of soup and steamy casserole to warm me on a cold winter night!

Red Lentil Restaurant in Watertown, MA

A few months ago, after Funk and I returned from a vegetarian eating frenzy on our trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley, I lamented that there just aren’t enough vegetarian restaurants in Boston. We’re in a happenin’ city, yet at best, most restaurants will only offer a cheesy veggie burger or hummus wrap – both of which I can make much better at home for a fraction of the price. Then just at the right time I received an email from the Boston Vegetarian Society that Red Lentil, a new vegetarian and vegan restaurant was open in Watertown, MA, just a few miles outside of Boston and the menu looked incredible.

This past Friday night I was so excited to check out Red Lentil with some fellow nutrition ladies and food bloggers. Lindsey, Jess, Elizabeth, Corrine and I made a dinner reservation which was very smart, since Red Lentil probably seats only 35 guests at a time. We started with some Pan Seared Breaded Portobella Strips, which were tender and lightly crispy with a zesty mango chutney and red pepper coulis. They looked just like chicken fingers! We also shared a hummus and pita platter and every time I have homemade hummus, I remember how much better it is than the packaged variety!

I ordered the vegan Butternut Squash Polenta, which jumped right off the menu page at me since I love butternut squash and polenta and figured combined, they’d taste even better. I was right! But I did have a hard time deciding what to order as every single menu option looked like one I’d enjoy. I can say that happens for me just about never in a restaurant. My dish included grilled polenta, oyster mushroom ragout, and warmed sesame asparagus drizzled with cilantro sunflower seed pesto. Heavenly.

We all ordered something different, and had bites of each other’s. Every dish was as good as the next. We wrapped up our meal with a slice of vegan carrot cake and vegan chocolate cake for the table. You could tell they had been sitting in the fridge before they were served to us – they had a slight refrigerator taste – but I still thought they were tasty, especially the carrot cake frosting! My three-course meal (with pretty big-sized portions) only came to $22 including tip.

If you’re in the Boston area, this restaurant is a must. Even if you’re intimidated by seitan, tempeh, and macrobiotics, there are some simple standards on the menu like nachos, burritos, quesadillas, and pizza.

I know this restaurant will become a go-to place, and already can’t wait to take Funk there. Another awesome perk? Once a month I consult at a location just steps away from Red Lentil. I can’t think of a better place to treat myself to lunch! As luck would have it, I’m consulting there tomorrow. It’d be a first for me that I hit up the same restaurant twice in one week, but hey, it’s just that good.

Crema Cafe and World Vegetarian Day

Last week I was doing some research on cafes in Harvard Square to host a 25-plus person book club (not an easy task) and came across Crema Café. I’ve heard of this café before but admittedly have never been. But, every time I come across a new restaurant, I check out the menu. It’s a hobby of mine, I guess, since reading menus inspires me to cook creatively at home. I came across Crema’s Sweet Potato Sandwich made with avocado, green apple, sprouts, hummus, and caramelized shallot vinaigrette on toasted wheat. The sandwich stood out to me since it packs in some of my favorite foods – avocados, apples, sweet potatoes and hummus! Apparently others enjoy these flavors as well because numerous people were giving rave reviews to this sammie on yelp:

“And even for this omnivore, the vegetarian sweet potato sandwich really satisfied! The creaminess of the avocado, the tang of the apple, the out-of-worldness of the dressing/sauce…”


Without ever having tasted this sandwich, I decided to make it at home. And you can too! It’s relatively simple and just in time to make for World Vegetarian Day. That’s today!

I (as usual) made some ingredient swaps – instead of a green apple I used red, and instead of the caramelized shallot vinaigrette I used a basic balsamic. And then I made up the rules on how to make this Crema sandwich.

I sliced the sweet potato into ½” thick slices and then microwaved them for a few minutes to get them soft. Then I put them on my grill pan with a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette on each sweet potato slice, and grilled away until they started to get a little caramelized with blackened grill marks. Meanwhile, I toasted an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin and layered on plain hummus, avocado slices, thin slices of apple, and a bunch of sprouts. When the potatoes were done grilling, I layered them on as well.

This made for a massive sandwich that was hard to get my mouth around! But the flavors went well together with the buttery avocado, caramelized potatoes, crunch of the tart apple, earthiness of the sprouts and creaminess of the hummus. It targeted all of my taste buds in every bite. Now I’m even more curious to know how Crema Café makes this sandwich. Do they use the sweet potato pureed as a spread instead of sliced? Does the shallot vinaigrette give it a whole new flavor profile? I guess there is only one way to find out and taste test myself!

Ike’s Place, San Francisco: Best Vegan Sandwich!

As you might have read from previous blog posts, Funk and I were very well fed during our trip to California. We went with a “no holding back” mentality when it came to all the restaurants we wanted to visit. At home we might not splurge on a three course meal or ignore the price of a bottle of wine, but we were on vacation and wanted to take in all of the flavors. That’s not to say we didn’t hold back for all meals. We did load up on bread and peanut butter to make quick and inexpensive pb sandwiches, so we could save our pennies and our appetite for the big doozie meals.

So when it came to our final evening in San Francisco, before we had to get to the airport for our 11pm flight, we were looking for a quick, cheap sandwich or slice of pizza to chow down on while at the airport. We figured we hit all of the vegan restaurants on our list, and at that point, a veggie sub at a local Subway would do. Little did we know we had missed THE best sandwich shop in all of San Francisco, which was located conveniently a half of a block away from us in Funk’s uncle’s neighborhood. He warned us that sometimes the wait for sandwiches at Ike’s Place was over an hour long. It is such a tiny place that there are no seats inside, and people wait patiently outside for their sandwiches, which are well worth waiting for.

We checked out the menu ahead of time online to call our order in and by some stroke of luck the wait was only 15 minutes. But looking back, I would have opted to miss our flight if it meant waiting for these amazing sandwiches. Yes they were that good.

The menu, broken down into meat sandwiches, vegetarian ones, and vegan sammies is extensive. I have never seen a sandwich menu, meat or vegetarian, so long and varied. Typically a vegetarian sandwich is some boring combo of cooked or raw veggies with melted cheese on bread, or a hummus roll up. Want it vegan? They’ll take out the cheese and you have a very unsatisfying lunch. Not at Ike’s.


“This ain’t your momma’s sandwich shop (says Ike’s website). Or your dad’s. Or your gramma’s, cousins, dog’s or cat’s, spiritual advisor’s, CEO’s, or hamster’s. We offer hand-crafted, finger-lickin’-good, fresh-baked, so-good-that-every-description-is-hyphenated, delicious sandwiches to the masses, made how you want them, be you meat eater, vegetarian, or veganite.”

It was hard for us to choose from such a long list of mouth-watering sandwiches, but I decided on the Vegan “We’re JUST Friends” sandwich with vegan turkey, sweet orange glaze, avocado, and soy cheese on wheat while Funk ordered the Purple B’s Veggie-CA BLT with veggie bacon, cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato on rye. I’m not usually a fan of vegan turkey, which I find too salty and a little rubbery, but when Ike’s mixed it with these flavorful ingredients, my taste buds were converted. I also don’t usually gravitate towards orange-flavorings, so I don’t know why the orange glaze (or this entire sandwich, for that matter), caught my eye. But it’s sweet-tangy flavor combined with the buttery avocado and smokiness of the turkey was a hit. I remember Funk’s sammich tasting great as well, but I was pretty pre-occupied with mine and went right back to it.
We enjoyed this “last supper” in the San Francisco airport and “mmmmm’d” and “oh yum’d” between big bites of orange glazed avocados and veg-BLT. If the sandwich centers weren’t crazy-good enough, the bread that held them was freshly baked at Ike’s with just the right combination of a crusty outside and soft baked inside.
Unfortunately I won’t be back at Ike’s anytime soon, but I will be sure to refer to his menu frequently in the near future to try my hand at recreating some of his scrumptious sounding sandwiches. Funk told me I should open a East-coast version of Ike’s restaurant in our neighborhood (as if I don’t have enough to do). But until that happens, I’ll do my best to honor Ike’s Place goodness in my own kitchen.
What’s your favorite veg-sandwich?

Ike's Place, San Francisco: Best Vegan Sandwich!

As you might have read from previous blog posts, Funk and I were very well fed during our trip to California. We went with a “no holding back” mentality when it came to all the restaurants we wanted to visit. At home we might not splurge on a three course meal or ignore the price of a bottle of wine, but we were on vacation and wanted to take in all of the flavors. That’s not to say we didn’t hold back for all meals. We did load up on bread and peanut butter to make quick and inexpensive pb sandwiches, so we could save our pennies and our appetite for the big doozie meals.

So when it came to our final evening in San Francisco, before we had to get to the airport for our 11pm flight, we were looking for a quick, cheap sandwich or slice of pizza to chow down on while at the airport. We figured we hit all of the vegan restaurants on our list, and at that point, a veggie sub at a local Subway would do. Little did we know we had missed THE best sandwich shop in all of San Francisco, which was located conveniently a half of a block away from us in Funk’s uncle’s neighborhood. He warned us that sometimes the wait for sandwiches at Ike’s Place was over an hour long. It is such a tiny place that there are no seats inside, and people wait patiently outside for their sandwiches, which are well worth waiting for.

We checked out the menu ahead of time online to call our order in and by some stroke of luck the wait was only 15 minutes. But looking back, I would have opted to miss our flight if it meant waiting for these amazing sandwiches. Yes they were that good.

The menu, broken down into meat sandwiches, vegetarian ones, and vegan sammies is extensive. I have never seen a sandwich menu, meat or vegetarian, so long and varied. Typically a vegetarian sandwich is some boring combo of cooked or raw veggies with melted cheese on bread, or a hummus roll up. Want it vegan? They’ll take out the cheese and you have a very unsatisfying lunch. Not at Ike’s.


“This ain’t your momma’s sandwich shop (says Ike’s website). Or your dad’s. Or your gramma’s, cousins, dog’s or cat’s, spiritual advisor’s, CEO’s, or hamster’s. We offer hand-crafted, finger-lickin’-good, fresh-baked, so-good-that-every-description-is-hyphenated, delicious sandwiches to the masses, made how you want them, be you meat eater, vegetarian, or veganite.”

It was hard for us to choose from such a long list of mouth-watering sandwiches, but I decided on the Vegan “We’re JUST Friends” sandwich with vegan turkey, sweet orange glaze, avocado, and soy cheese on wheat while Funk ordered the Purple B’s Veggie-CA BLT with veggie bacon, cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato on rye. I’m not usually a fan of vegan turkey, which I find too salty and a little rubbery, but when Ike’s mixed it with these flavorful ingredients, my taste buds were converted. I also don’t usually gravitate towards orange-flavorings, so I don’t know why the orange glaze (or this entire sandwich, for that matter), caught my eye. But it’s sweet-tangy flavor combined with the buttery avocado and smokiness of the turkey was a hit. I remember Funk’s sammich tasting great as well, but I was pretty pre-occupied with mine and went right back to it.
We enjoyed this “last supper” in the San Francisco airport and “mmmmm’d” and “oh yum’d” between big bites of orange glazed avocados and veg-BLT. If the sandwich centers weren’t crazy-good enough, the bread that held them was freshly baked at Ike’s with just the right combination of a crusty outside and soft baked inside.
Unfortunately I won’t be back at Ike’s anytime soon, but I will be sure to refer to his menu frequently in the near future to try my hand at recreating some of his scrumptious sounding sandwiches. Funk told me I should open a East-coast version of Ike’s restaurant in our neighborhood (as if I don’t have enough to do). But until that happens, I’ll do my best to honor Ike’s Place goodness in my own kitchen.
What’s your favorite veg-sandwich?

Herbivore: The Earthly Grill, San Francisco

Herbivore restaurant was another restaurant on my list of must-eat places in San Francisco. With three locations right downtown, I knew it must be a popular spot. Funk and I were famished when we arrived, which was a good thing since we wanted almost everything on the menu!

Herbivore is as close as you may get to vegan fast food or diner food. The restaurant is seat-yourself casual and bright with limited outdoor seating. The menu had everything from vegan schwarma (something I’ve never seen before) to a variety of tofu scramble options (my favorite!). While we read the menu over and over deciding on lunch, we ordered an espresso shake (espresso blended with soy ice cream – heavenly!) and Sauteed Mushrooms with crostini. This appetizer was so simple yet incredibly flavorful and something I will make at home. (Update: Made this mushroom dish! See below) It was simply a big plate of sauteed mushrooms in oil, garlic, salt and lemon juice, that you pile on top of crusty crostini just like bruschetta. After the shake and the mushrooms, we were full before our entrees even came! I ordered the tofu scramble with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes with house potatoes, and corn bread. Both the potatoes and scramble were some of the best I’ve ever had. I saved the cornbread for a snack later on, and loved the spicy kick it had from the jalepenos baked in. Funk loves seitan so he enjoyed the BBQ Seitan Sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, onions & pickles on french bread and a side of garlic herb fries, also saved for a snack later on (we were so stuffed as you can see from Funk’s “full face”) The dessert looked amazing too but we were too full to even attempt it, and our espresso shake “beverage” was really our pre-lunch dessert.

This was one of the best vegan meals I have ever had, hands down. Writing about it now makes me want to take a flight back out to Cali just to have another meal there. I’m not the only fan of Herbivore, as you can see by some of the Vegetarian Awards they’ve received on the wall. Maybe the fact that there are three Herbivore locations is a sign they’ll be expanding even more? Hopefully all the way to the East Coast in Boston. Hurry up, Herbivore!
*I think I just successfully imitated Herbivore’s flavorful, savory, sauteed mushrooms with crostini! To start, I bought a pack of pre-sliced white button mushrooms to make the whole recipe that much easier. I poured a few glugs of grapeseed oil (has a high cook point) in my pan and once it was nice and hot, dumped in the mushrooms. I then gave them a small squirt of lemon juice and a few pinches of salt. I let them cook, tossing them here and there, until they were soft and soaked in all the grapeseed oil. We topped some crusty fresh baked rolls with the mushrooms and it felt like Herbivore all over again, minus the San Francisco city around us.