Archive for category Vegetarian View

Vegetarian View: Sushi Pop (Houston)

Monthly Feature
Mondays are for restaurant reviews. Molly gives you her take on Sushi Pop–through the eyes of a vegetarian!

Rate each category on a 1-5 star rating.
Overall Vegetarian Selection: (4) Stars
Brief Take: When I mention to people that I went to eat sushi I usually get a puzzled look back. “But isn’t sushi fish?” is the usual response that follows the perplexed facial expression. Yes, sushi indeed is typically fish but there are a few vegetarian (and vegan) selections at most places.

Sushi Pop met my expectations for a decent vegetarian section and when I say decent I mean I had options to choose from and was not cornered into ordering the only roll on the menu. Before I went, I looked at their menu online but when I got to the restaurant there were several more additions on the menu for me to chose from.

Ordered Dish: (4) Stars
Brief Take: Sushi Pop’s motto is “Fresh, Fast Sushi.” Heading in I was a little weary about how the “fast” part was going to translate but I was pleasantly surprised at how good my food was. I know I don’t eat seafood, but my favorite sushi place is in Uptown Park and this sushi was just as good and well over half the price. (For you pescatarians, Keith was with me and thought his seafood rolls and shrimp tempura were very good and actually exceeded his expectations.)

My meal consisted of vegetable tempura, vegetarian egg rolls, avocado roll and Sushi Pop’s special roll, Veggie Pop, which had steamed spinach, tofu, avocado, cucumber and pickled daikon. Both rolls were tasty and rolled tight (read: no falling rice…pet peeve). The vegetarian egg rolls were not over cooked and were also delicious. The vegetable tempura was good as well but it only had white onion and sweet potato. I was hoping for a little more variety and this is one of the reasons I gave four stars instead of five.

The wasabi was a little scarce. I quickly used up all of mine and was stealing Keith’s. Excessive wasabi intake might be hereditary though. I once watched my dad eat a nickel size by itself and not even flinch. Our soy sauce bottle was leaky but the free soft serve in the back of the restaurant at the end of our meal quickly made up for that.

Healthy Rating: (4) Stars
Brief Take: Sushi is usually pretty healthy and my vegetarian kind is no exception. Although I didn’t get a lot of protein from this meal I did consume some vegetables and carbohydrates from the rice. I gave four stars out of five because soy sauce is universally extremely salty. The tempura is not exactly health food but it could be worse.

Overall Opinion: (4) Stars
Summary: Quick review of the overall eating experience…what was the restaurant like, service, etc)
Sushi Pop’s décor is a spin on 1950’s modern, I really liked it. I got the impression this place is trying to cater to a younger crowd. The XM/Sirus 90’s on 9 music station really wasn’t my choice of music and it was also a little too loud.

The staff was friendly and when we walked in a woman came from behind the counter towards the door and greeted us as she explained the ordering process. As their motto indicated, the overall service really was fast. Sushi Pop also serves several types of sake and Japanese soda too. I liked the open kitchen so you can see the sushi being made. The fish tank in the corner was a nice touch.

One last note, you must go to the restroom and wash your hands. Sushi Pop has the coolest Dyson hand dryer that in a Jetson’s fashion dries them at warp speed. You lower your hands and insert them down into this futuristic contraption and *poof* they are dry and warm. I felt like I was going to run into Rosie the Robot.

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Vegetarian View: Ashland House

Monthly Feature
Molly’s got the vegetarians covered with another restaurant review!

Each category on a 1-5 star rating.
Overall Vegetarian Selection: (4) Stars
Brief Take: Billing themselves as having “home cooked food,” I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a vegetarian variety on the menu. Usually home cooked food to a vegetarian means meat, and lots of it. I guess that is the tea room persona coming though…like one of the sandwiches offered is pear and brie sandwich. Ashland House has a fair amount of meat free options in all their menu categories and different foods too like the sandwich mentioned above. I felt like I had options here in my ordering. That made me happy.

Ordered Dish: (4) Stars
Brief Take: For appetizer my husband and I ordered fried asparagus and also hummus and pita. I have never had fried asparagus before and this was delicious! It was served with marinara and brought out at the perfect temperature. We liked the asparagus a lot and the breading was spectacular. The hummus was hearty and had lots of black olive and garlic notes in it. The pita garnered an A+ because it was pillowy and warm, my favorite way.

For my entrée I ordered the vegetarian sandwich which consisted of lettuce, tomato, sprouts, avocado, cucumber, shredded carrots, mayonnaise and cheese on organic oat bread. The sandwich was piled very high and I was pleased with all the ingredients except the cheese which was processed American, yuck. Everything else on the sandwich was a herbivore’s delight…and I am going to be a stereotypical vegetarian here and say I especially liked the sprouts, yum.

Dessert time brought warm caramel bread pudding. Ashland House changes their dessert offerings daily. Half the fun in going there is you get a different set of dessert options each time. The bread pudding was one of the better kinds I have enjoyed. The caramel was soaked in the bread and also pooled on top. Served with vanilla ice cream, this dessert did not disappoint.

Healthy Rating: (3) Stars
Brief Take: My sandwich was pretty healthy sans the mayo and processed cheese and the hummus was healthy too. The sandwich provided me with some of my veggies for the day but the thing missing from this meal that I had to make up for later was protein. Now the fried asparagus I am sure was kind of high in fat but don’t the vitamins in it negate that? The dessert was not so healthy. At all.

Overall Opinion: (5) Stars
Summary: Quick review of the overall eating experience…what was the restaurant like, service, etc)
Ashland House is a quaint restaurant /tea room nestled in Spring Branch in what seems to be an old house. The decor is cozy and tea room-esque with dainty decorations and flowers throughout. The restaurant is very close to my house, so I pass by it a lot and the parking lot is always completely filled. Ashland House used to serve a wonderful breakfast but have since removed that from their menu and hours of operation. Now, Ashland House is only open Monday through Saturday for lunch which is one of my few gripes with this place.
7611 Westview, Houston, TX 77055

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Vegetarian View: Black Walnut Cafe

Monthly Feature
Molly gives us a peek at a restaurant through the eyes of a vegetarian.

Overall Vegetarian Selection: (2) Stars
Black Walnut Cafe’s menu is very typical of my standard dining experience. It’s one of those places where the vegetarian selection is not great and I feel like they only threw in a sparse handful of meat free dishes to shut us herbivores up.

I didn’t order an appetizer, but their selection had four vegetarian options out of eight. Not too horrible, but the four items were nothing to turn my head at. They were spinach and artichoke dip, garlic cheese bread, toasted ravioli and chips and salsa with guacamole. Kinda boring.

BWC’s salad selection of 13 items only had two vegetarian options. I mean come on…this is a no brainer where a restaurant can easily win a vegetarian over. I really expected more here. And to add insult to injury their extra salad additions consisted of seven meat/seafood items and no tofu. At this point I am picturing the Twitter fail whale in my mind.

Now onto the “Signature Entrees” portion of BWC’s menu where not one meat free item is listed out of nine entrees. By now I am getting pretty upset at the menu creator but am not surprised in the least, because remember BWC is a standard sample of my dining experience unless I purposely visit a vegetarian friendly restaurant.

No time for ranting, it’s time to visit the pasta selection where again, it is easy for a restaurant to please a vegetarian. Pasta, like lettuce in a salad, is diverse and almost anything can be added to it. Out of 14 items to choose from BWC has a whopping two meat free pastas and one of them is blatantly named “Vegetarian Pasta,” which I will expand more on later.

The “Burgers and Sandwiches” section has 12 items and only one is meat free. That item is…drum roll please….a grilled cheese sandwich. Please keep in mind a grilled cheese sandwich is also on the kids menu here too.

There is a glass display case near the cashier with various gelatos, cannolis and other desserts. Maybe I should have gotten something here to brighten my dining experience at BWC.

BWC also serves breakfast with omelets, eggs benedicts etc. but this vegetarian doesn’t eat eggs by themselves so I won’t even go there.

Ordered Dish: (3) Stars
Since my choices were limited, I was able to quickly pick the Vegetarian Pasta for my lunch. (Thanks for spelling it out to me BWC.) My bowtie pasta dish was priced at $9.50 (a little expensive for lunch I think) and consisted of pesto, extra virgin olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichokes, garlic and shredded parmesan cheese. The meal was decent but nothing memorable. Since Mediterranean is my favorite cuisine I liked the theme of olives, artichokes etc. in the dish. I thought the ingredients and flavors went well together and the pasta was cooked just right for a cold pasta dish. My meal was a little salty because of all the marinated ingredients and pesto always leaves me running for the water fountain.

Healthy Rating: (3) Stars
My pasta meal was pretty healthy but certainly did not help me in my protein grams consumed for the day. I try to keep my protein at 50 grams a day and this dish probably brought me to probably ten. (The cheese was not abundant in the dish.) I will say the meal was low fat, but high in carbohydrates which bothers some people but I happily accept because of my running.

Overall Opinion: (2.5) Stars
Black Walnut Cafe’s décor is really quaint. There are a lot of different sized couches paired with tables to choose from. For the non-couch eaters BWC does have some regular tables. The interior is kind of dark but that adds to the cozy, sofa atmosphere. Plus they have a spacious patio in the front of the restaurant when the Houston weathers plays nice. Too bad BWC’s menu isn’t vegetarian friendly because I really liked their comforting and relaxed décor. The BWC I visited is located in the Village Arcade so parking can be a problem during peak hours. The service was quick and the restaurant seemed pretty clean. I gave BWC an overall score of 2.5 because even though they have a heavenly dessert case and unique dining room set up, I just cannot forgive the lack of vegetarian dishes. (And what they did offer was very boring.)
5510 Morningside Drive
Houston, Texas 77005


Vegetarian View: Jus’ Mac

Monthly Feature
Molly gives us a peek at a restaurant through the eyes of a vegetarian.

Overall Vegetarian Selection: (5) Stars
Since Jus’ Mac serves only macaroni and cheese, I had a pretty good notion there would be a decent selection of vegetarian menu items. Seven out of the 17 unique mac and cheese dishes were vegetarian. So many choices I had a difficult time ordering! For appetizers the menu also offered fried mac and cheese balls, fried mac and cheese rolls and mac and cheese soup. This mac and cheese soup sounds very interesting. I didn’t see anyone eating it…maybe I will get it next time.

Ordered Dish: (4) Stars
I ordered The Puebla mac and cheese which consisted of roasted poblano peppers and Swiss cheese. The dish was brought out in a mini cast iron skillet with a heaping mound of fresh bread crumbs. The Puebla is priced at $7.95 and I felt I got my money’s worth in the amount of pasta piled in. This dish was very flavorful. The Swiss cheese was a nice alternative and the roasted poblano was a perfect amount. My only gripe was the dish could have been served warmer. Don’t get me wrong, it was warm when ate it, but it could have been hotter. That would have accented the gooey cheese a bit more. Maybe I will chalk this up to new restaurant timing woes and it will be better next time. The temperature of my dish is why I gave four stars instead of five.

Healthy Rating: (1) Star
The Puebla mac and cheese dish was not healthy – at all. Actually while I was eating, I mentioned to my friend I wondered how many fat and calories were in our food and she quickly whispered back “just don’t even think about it.” Maybe I got some calcium and a little protein from the cheese? But that is about it. Now from a running standpoint the pasta is helpful but that is neither here nor there because it was pretty high in fat.

Overall Opinion: (4.5) Stars
Considering I went on day three of business during their soft opening and limited business hours, I think the place is running pretty smoothly. My disclaimer to this is Jus Mac opened at 6 pm the day I went and I was waiting in line at the door at 5:55 pm along with other mac and cheese aficionados. Because I got there right when they opened, there was not any extreme wait on my food and no parking problems either. I will say the adjacent parking lot is super small and I am not sure what area street parking is like. The building Jus’ Mac is in used to be a coffee house so the inside is small and seats up to 47 people.

Final Verdict: After months and months of waiting for this place to open, Jus Mac has won my heart and I will be back. I can’t wait to eat here when the weather gets “Houston cold.” What is better than warm mac and cheese on a cold, blustery day?
2617 Yale, 77008

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