Thursday, July 16, 2009

Guest Post - Restaurant Review: VegiTerranean

I'm happy to have Meat-free Mike submit my first guest post; a review of his recent visit to VegiTerranean restaurant in Akron, Ohio. Enjoy! VL

Greetings! Vegan Linda’s friend Meat-free Mike here. Back in mid June, I went to my hometown, Akron, Ohio, and visited one of the few all-vegan (and Kosher) restaurants I am aware of. At Chrissie Hynde’s (of “The Pretenders”) restaurant, VegiTerranean, I had something REAL yummy to eat and drink, took a few pictures, and talked with the chef. I asked Linda if it would be cool to do a mini-review of this wonderful venue on her excellent blog, in hopes that we might encourage the establishing of something like this out here in Champaign-Urbana, and she graciously agreed. So here we go!

The VegiTerranean is located at 21 Furnace Street, inside the Northside Lofts just north of downtown Akron, Ohio (also Chrissie Hynde’s hometown). It was a warm day and I was just finishing visiting local cd stores and shops when I decided to try the new restaurant. Being thirsty as I was, I concluded that a tall, cool Hoppin’ Frog wheat beer was in order! Akron actually has two breweries now, I believe, and the Hoppin’ Frog products I’ve sampled are top notch! This really hit the spot, along with the tasty pickle appetizer you see to the left of my brew.After reviewing the extensive vegan menu, which included soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, and pastas and risottos, I decided to go with a vegan wrap which was comprised of grilled eggplant, artichokes, spinach, baby arugula, vegan feta cheese. I wasn’t really into pasta at the time and wanted something light. I had just snarffed down a large garlic and fresh tomato pizza from Luigi’s Italian Restaurant the night before. Luigi’s pizza is my all-time favorite, but that’s for another review! J

While I enjoyed my libation, I gazed around at the d├ęcor which was essentially modern and stainless steel-oriented. Here are a few shots:

This view is looking northeast over the bar and out into the valley of the Little Cuyahoga River which flows into north Akron and divides downtown from North Hill where many Italian immigrants moved to in the early 1900’s. The bridge in the background is a modern “Y” bridge which was erected in the 1980’s, I think, to replace an older “Y” bridge which was in need of serious repair. The folks on the patio outside of the open windows are dining in the out-of-doors which is another option at VegiTerranean.Tables, chairs, and plates:Pictures of famous vegetarians and vegans graced the walls. Here’s a photo of Morrissey of The Smiths:After not too long of a wait, my food arrived! Here’s a shot of the entire spread:Note the “Chrissie” fries on the left topped with a lightly-herbed faux cheese made at the restaurant. I am a potato FREAK!! I really enjoyed this combination: light, browned, and not greasy, with the added zing of the faux cheese.The organic whole wheat wrap was excellent! Although it wasn’t on their regular menu yet (they were revising), I thought it was near perfection already. This particular ensemble of grilled vegetables and the tasty chutney-based dipping sauce was a delicate combination whose balanced flavor goes missing in similar items I’ve sampled from other restaurants.

Here’s a pic of the most courteous Chef Scot Jones of VegiTerranean! It was a delight to meet him. Being the busy professional that he is, he was needed in the kitchen but was kind enough to chat a bit about the scene in Akron and in Champaign-Urbana, and to pose for this snap-shot.

All in all, the food was GREAT, the service excellent, and the atmosphere relaxed yet sophisticated. I’ll definitely stop back the next time I’m in town to explore the pasta and other vegan fare that VegiTerranean offers. If you’re ever in Akron, Ohio, I highly recommend VegiTerranean for lunch or dinner. I think you’ll be glad you did! They have so many non-meat choices which should please even the most picky omnivore!

Here’s the link to the VegiTerranean web site. Check out the extensive and diverse array of dishes offered!

- “Meat-free” Mike

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