What is this blog about?

I've been a lacto-ovo veggie for 15+ years and for almost every week of those years I've found myself going out to eat with my meat loving family or friends. Tired of finding myself at restaurants were I'm left nibbling on a very uncreative salad I've created this blog to help others like myself find the best options when eating out, and what restaurants your better off staying away from if you're looking for a fulfilling veggie meal.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Julius Meinl

Article first published as Restaurant Review (Chicago): A Veggie Girl Reviews Julius Meinl on Blogcritics.

3601 N. Southport
Chicago, IL  60613
Menu Creativity:  Good
Ambiance:  Upscale coffee shop
Overall Experience:  Great, one which I cannot wait to repeat
Rating:  Good for vegetarians and vegans
Mocha Latte
Julius Meinl is a European style coffee shop that offers a wide range of coffee, tea, pastries and cafe food.  I had been here before and fell head over heals for their quiche, so I wanted to come back and do an "official" review.  On a Sunday afternoon I grabbed one of my pals and headed out to grab some, hopefully, great food.

We wanted to start things off with one of their pastry specials; we had our eye on either the caramelized onion & Swiss cheese danish or the sweet potato.  Unfortunately, we got there too late to be able to snag one of these scrumpcious delicacies.  Not only does the early bird catch the worm, but apparently it also catches the Meinl daily pastry specials.

What I ate:  
Egg Brioche Sandwich
Meinl Egg Brioche Sandwich (cheddar cheese with quiche style eggs on a brioche bun without the meat) and a mocha latte.  The latte was delicious, with a thick creamy foam that had a lovely toasted flavor.  Overall the sandwich was delicious. The eggs were light and creamy and the flavors were complementary and yummy, but the portion was minuscule (though it was priced accordingly). While the brioche bun was a great flavor profile, it mostly served to crush the delicate egg causing the bun to be the primary flavor versus the egg.

What my friend ate:  
Roasted Vegetable Crepes
Roasted Vegetable Crepes (portabella, zucchini, red peppers, and cheese) comes with a small side salad and cole slaw with a macadamia nut latte.  Once again the latte was great and the macadamia flavor was strong but didn't overwhelm the coffee.  The crepe was a menu superstar, it was scrumptious, fresh veggies snuggled inside a perfectly golden crepe with a tangy sauce.  The vegetables were a great textural contrast to the crepe.  The only downside on this plate was the cole slaw, which was drowning in a vinaigrette that was way too sour.

The desserts we shared:  
Black Forest
Mozart (a chocolate cake with pistachio cream, chocolate mousse, pistachios and a chocolate glaze). This is billed as one of their specialties and boy is it ever!  Everything about this cake is yum on your tongue; it's moist and chocolaty without being too sweet.  The delicate pistachio flavor hits your flavor buds at the end and lovingly, lingers for a moment.  Black Forest (chocolate cake, brandied cherries, chocolate mousse)  let me start by saying this is a very good cake, but be prepared for the very alcoholic taste of the brandied cherries. I've been eating Black Forest cake since I was on solid foods and for just about every birthday since.  Each time I visit Germany it's on my list right after a good beer, but before the pretzel.  So I'm a bit of snob when it comes to this cake; with that in mind let me continue.  The brandied cherries were too much and the alcoholic taste didn't belong. In every other version I've had, the alcohol has been more in the cake itself and very subtle.  The cake was too dense and wet for my liking, not the moist fluffy heaven I was familiar with.  In other words, there are better Black Forest cakes out there so please consider having one of their other fabulous desserts...like the Mozart.

Do you have a recommendation for veggie girl?  If you've eaten at Julius Meinl what was your experience?  Post your responses in the comments below.

Check out my other blog at: http://thininvisiblesteel.blogspot.com/

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweet Art (St. Louis, MO)

2203 S. 39th Street
St. Louis, MO 63110
Menu Creativity:  Great
Ambiance:  Casual, small, friendly
Overall Experience:  Fabulous
Rating:  Wonderful for vegetarians and vegans
The 39th:  Vegan BLT
This Veggie Girl is spending some needed time with some of her favorite people in the world, which reside in that grand ol' city...St. Louis.  So I'm bringing you a traveling review from that aforementioned town.  After perusing the suggestions from veggie boys and girls in St. Louis we    decided to head over to Sweet Art, a bakery/art studio/sandwich shop/coffee shop.  It's a very small place, about eight tables and some window seating, but it has the comfortable feeling of sitting in your friends kitchen.    For being primarily a bakery they had a great selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches.  They also carry quiche and savory pies (unfortunately they did not have any of the pies when we were there).  Almost everything can be made vegan!  For a look at all that they have to offer check out their website here (to access the menu click on the E.A.T.S. section)

The Klemm
What I ate:  I had the 39th, which was a vegan BLT made with smart bacon, mixed greens, and magic spread (their house vegan dressing).  Usually I'm not a fan of vegetarian places using products I can buy at the store, but they really did a great job of elevating the sandwich.  They use local ingredients as much as possible and you can definitely tell by the great quality of what winds up on your plate.  The mixed greens give a little peppery umph to the sandwich and the magic spread is light, and creamy with just a touch of tanginess.  The only criticism would be what we received as our side of fruit, just a couple orange slices; though I was soon distracted by the deliciousness of my sandwich. Overall a yummy sandwich which made every one of my taste buds very happy indeed!

What my friend ate:  She had the Klemm, which is a grilled cheese sandwich (can be made vegan) made with Havarti cheese, mushrooms, and a sun-dried tomato & artichoke spread.  Which was so yummy it was eaten in it's entirety, which unfortunately left no room for a cupcake! 

Pure YUM!
The cupcake I ate:  Caramel kiss.  This cupcake was so good it should be called Carmel make-out!  I've never been a frosting fan, I tend to find it too cloyingly sweet, but this frosting was a light smooth and creamy buttercream that wasn't overly sweet.  Then combine that with the drizzle of caramel on the top and the moist delicious cupcake below and you have perfection.  Seriously...this will end up being one of those food items I crave!  I better find out if they deliver to Chicago!

Do you have a favorite St. Louis eatery?  If you've eaten at Sweet Art what was your experience?  Post your responses in the comments below.
Check out my other blog at: http://thininvisiblesteel.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 14, 2011

Letizia's Fiore

2456 N. California Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647

Menu Creativity:  Good (especially considering the small size of the menu)
Ambiance:  Casual and plenty of seating
Overall Experience:  Quick, easy, and filling
Rating:  Good for vegetarians and OK for vegans
On a warmish Sunday morning I pulled my non-daylight savings adjusted butt outta bed then bribed Caroline to drag her even more tired self out of bed to join me.  Originally the plan was to go to Bite on Western, but upon arriving we found the windows papered over and a renovation permit on the door.  After a bit of grrr...arguh'ing on my part we decided to head over to Letizia's Fiore, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  Letizia's is more coffee shop/bakery than cafe, but they have a nice unique selection of lunch choices that you won't find at any of the unmentionable chain coffee shops.  It's a small menu, but here were our choices:

  • Roasted Tomato & Pesto Piadina (Piadina is flatbread with melted smoked mozzarella)
  • Soups:  (all soups are vegetarian and one is always vegan)
    • Cream of Tomato
    • Tuscan White Bean (V) 
  • Veggie Chili with Barley (V)
  • Garlic Bomb (V) (fresh baked bread with garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and sea salt) 
  • Arancini Bar (a stuffed and fried risotto ball)...unfortunately they did not have any vegetarian choices that day
  • Rustic Pizza:  varying choices
  • And Coffee...marvelous tasty coffee!
For the full menu go to http://www.wix.com/fsorano/fiore_new

What I ate (and Caroline copied):  Veggie Chili and the Garlic Bomb, which thoughtfully comes with an after lunch breath freshener.  I went with the mocha latte, whereas Caroline went with the vanilla...lattes here are very good; the espresso is not overwhelmed by the flavoring and the foam is toasty and creamy.  The flavor of the veggie chili was yummy, fresh ingredients and fully developed flavors.  The only minus is that it really is more of a hearty bean soup rather than a chili, but as I said the flavors don't disappoint as long as your heart not set on traditional chili.  The garlic bomb is...well, the bomb!  You cannot go wrong with bread fresh out of a wood burning oven.  The only point of contention, and it is a small one, is that the toppings were very inconsistent.  There was only one piece of Rosemary found (it was a bit like trying to find the baby in a Mardi Gras cake) and only a smattering of sea salt, but garlic and oil were in abundance.  This seemed to be such a small light meal, but both of us found that we were significantly satisfied for most of the remainder of the day.  Overall a great experience and one I would be more than happy to repeat!
(V)=Vegan Friendly
(RV)=Can Request to be Made Vegan

Let me know where you think I should eat next?  If you've eaten at Letizia's Fire what was your experience?  Post your responses in the comments below.

Check out my other blog at: http://thininvisiblesteel.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 6, 2011


5020 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago , IL 

Menu Creativity:  Some
Ambiance:  "Howdy neighbor, can you pass the salt"
Overall Experience:  Long wait, good options, OK food
Rating:  Good, but not great.  They make a pretty plate of food, but once you dig in it just doesn't live up to it's appearance.  
Lazy Sunday afternoons were made for brunch. So I grabbed a friend, Caroline, and headed to one of the gazillion brunch places in the city.  Not surprisingly we found ourselves waiting for about 45 minutes to be seated.  The wait was alleviated by flipping through books,magazines, and games  supplied for just that purpose.   The decor is fun...bold colors, art covering every inch of wall space, just be prepared for the naked artwork; in other words, not the place for your prudish friends or family.  Stay away if you're looking to have an intimate brunch with your loved one as you'll be nearly touching elbows with the other customers.  The place is loud and boisterous, but well within acceptable levels as you are able to hear your dining companion.  

When you get to your table you're greeted by a couple bite-sized pieces of cornbread.  I always appreciate free food, but I found these little bites to be cloyingly sweet and a bit too dense; I found myself hoping this was not a sign of things to come.  They do have quite a few vegetarian/vegan options on the menu, here's a look at just a few of them:

  • Bib Im Bop (RV)
  • Vegetarian Biscuits & Gravy
  • Veggie Country Benedict
  • Veggie Burger (not sure if Vegan)
  • Tofu Scramble and they have vegan cheese! (V)
  • and more...
For the full brunch menu go to http://www.tweet.biz/brunch.html
What I ate:  Croissant Sandwich Platter
I was really excited when I ordered this since they had veggie sausage.  Though I was disappointed when my meal arrived as the eggs where overcooked...I'm talking brown bottom and slightly grayish appearance, gurk...yuck.   The croissant was flaky and yummy as was the veggie sausage.  I found out later that  the sausage is Morningstar, it's disappointing that they don't make their own.  On the plus side the hash browns were cooked beautifully, golden brown with a light butter flavor.  The teeny bowl of fruit was great, I just wish it was larger, a fabulous assortment of great fruit...not a melon in sight.

What Caroline ate (and was forced to share with me):  Vegetarian Biscuits & Gravy
Overall an OK dish, it's just disappointing because it could have easily been better. The gravy and sausage was cooked separately, not allowing the gravy to fully develop that rich and spicy depth that we're used to getting from a good plate of veggie biscuits & gravy.  The biscuits were one of the highlights of the dish; light, flaky and buttery delicious.    

(V)=Vegan Friendly
(RV)=Can Request to be Made Vegan

Let me know where you think I should eat next?  If you've eaten at Tweet  what was your experience?  Post your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Check out my daily blog at: http://thininvisiblesteel.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jameson's Original Charhouse

5016 Northwest Highway
Crystal Lake , IL 60014

Menu Creativity:  None
Ambiance:  "What, I can't hear you...it's too noisy in here"!
Overall Experience:  Long wait, sad food, but nice staff
Rating:  Poor for vegetarians and worse for vegans
You might be thinking, what in the world does a vegetarian expect going to a steakhouse, well let me tell you when one's Mother tells you how much she's been wanting to go there and tugs on your heartstrings you go and hope for the best!  What I certainly wasn't expecting was the utter lack of veggie options!  After waiting over an hour to be seated my menu choices were as follows:
  • Fettuccine Alfredo 
  • Linguine Marinara (RV)
  • Greek Salad and does have vegan dressing options(RV)
  • Potato Skins
  • Onion Rings
For the full menu go to http://www.jamesons-charhouse.com/bloom_dinner_menu.html

Yes, they do have pasta options but they are uncreative and almost seem like an afterthought just slapped on there to give Catholics another option on Fridays.  Since I saw that the dinner options came with a choice to have fresh veggies with their meal I asked the waiter if they could do a fresh veggie dish for me and was told apologetically "Ummm...No, but we have salad."  
What I ate:  Embarrassingly I had the potato skins without the bacon.  I have an overall weakness for all things potato and a special place in my heart for amazing potato skins.  Unfortunately these were not amazing skins.  They were overly greasy with burnt edges.   
(V)=Vegan Friendly
(RV)=Can Request to be Made Vegan

Let me know where you think I should eat next?  If you've eaten at Jameson's Original Charhouse what was your experience?  Post your responses in the comments below.

Check out my daily blog at: http://thininvisiblesteel.blogspot.com/