Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Capital Dime

I finally made it to Capital Dime last night with my husband and son so I could check out the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu. I'd been reading great comments on Facebook about the vegan raviolis, and I was eager to try them.


First things first, though. The appetizer offered on the fixed price Challenge menu was an order of Sweet Potato Hush Puppies served with a sweet chili sauce. I'm one of those people who likes almost any kind of fried dough, but these hush puppies were especially good, and the sweet chili sauce was the perfect accompaniment.




Next came the ravioli I'd heard so much about, with a filling of mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and a "ricotta" made from tofu and cashews, and a coconut tomato basil sauce. These excellent raviolis certainly lived up to all the hype!




By the time I polished off the first two menu items, I was almost too full for dessert, but couldn't possibly pass up this ice cream sandwich: two delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies and a filling of chocolate avocado ice cream, drizzled with chocolate and garnished with slivered almonds. So good!




Capital Dime is always vegan-friendly, so be sure to check it out even after the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge ends. The next time I'm there, I'm planning to try their vegan jambalaya.


Capital Dime is located at 1801 L Street, and their phone number is 443-1010. Their website address is http://www.capitaldime.com/ and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CapitalDime. The restaurant is open Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge is available only for dinner, which starts at about 5:00 every evening.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Broderick Roadhouse

I stopped in for lunch today at Broderick Roadhouse in West Sacramento, which is taking part in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge for the first time. Unlike most of the participating restaurants, Broderick Roadhouse is not offering a multi-course vegan menu. Instead, they are offering one vegan special that's available all day, so I didn't have to make any hard decisions when I ordered my food.


The Challenge special is an order of three Dragon Oyster Mushroom Tacos. The tacos also include carmelized onions, pickled peppers, avocado puree, mixed greens, and corn salsa. Come to think of it, I don't think the corn salsa was included in my tacos, but they were very tasty nonetheless, especially when dribbled with a little of their special hot sauce.




Broderick Roadhouse is always vegan-friendly, so even after the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge is over, you'll find a lot to like on their menu. For lunch or dinner, they offer a veggie burger, a barbecue tofu sandwich, a vegan pasta and "cheese" dish, and, my personal favorite, a no egg salad sandwich. Their weekend brunch menu includes a vegan tofu scramble.


Broderick Roadhouse is located in West Sacramento at 319 Sixth Street, and their phone number is 916-372-2436. Their website address is http://www.broderick1893.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Broderick1893. The restaurant is open Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co.

With less than two weeks to go in this year's Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, I'm scrambling to get to all the participating restaurants I haven't visited yet. Sunday night, my husband and I headed over to Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co., where a three-course fixed price Challenge meal is being offered.


I knew that a two-for-$40 Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge special with wine pairings was offered on Sunday nights, but I didn't realize that meant it was not possible to order the Challenge menu for just one person. Fortunately, my non-vegan husband was willing to share the two-for-$40 vegan special with me. If you're planning on dining alone or with someone who is not going to want the vegan menu, you may want to find somewhere else to eat on the remaining Sunday night this month. It is my understanding that on nights other than Sundays, the Challenge menu is offered at Hook & Ladder for $28.00 per person, but does not include the wine pairings.


Since the meal is apportioned for two people on Sunday nights, each course comes to the table on one plate, and each person dishes up however much they want from that plate. The first course on the Challenge menu is the End of Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad. In addition to the delicious tomatoes, this beautiful salad includes roasted corn, English cucumber, baby kale, and grilled tofu.




The entrée was an excellent Roasted Kabocha Squash Risotto, which was garnished with sautéed baby squashes, rainbow chard, crimini mushrooms, and toasted pine nuts. This was a very satisfying dish, and perfect for fall.




The dessert was a delicious Blackberry Apple Tarte Tatin. It was very rich and sweet, and just the right size for two people to share.




Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. is located at 1630 S Street, and their phone number is 916-442-4885. Their website address is http://hookandladder916.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/HookandLadderSacramento. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Lou's Sushi

I had lunch with my friend Melissa today at Lou's Sushi, which is participating for the first time this year in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge. I was pleasantly surprised to see several different items offered on their Challenge menu.


We ordered the Tofu and Grilled Asparagus Salad to share, squares of soft tofu and perfectly cooked asparagus served in a slightly sweet sauce and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. It was a very simple salad, but we both really enjoyed it. I hope they keep it on the menu after the Challenge ends.




For my entrée, I ordered the Veggie OMFG roll, without onions and with a soy wrapper instead of seaweed. This delicious dish was a daikon and oyster mushroom roll with avocado and grilled asparagus, garnished with a spicy garlic "mayo." The flavors went well together, and I liked the slight spiciness. It also looked beautiful on the plate.




I'm not used to having dessert in sushi restaurants, but a special dessert of Tempura Strawberries had been created for the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, so Melissa and I decided to give it a try. We loved it -- ripe strawberries in a sweet tempura batter with a mint-infused coconut milk dipping sauce. It was the perfect way to end a very satisfying lunch.




In addition to these items, the Challenge menu at Lou's Sushi includes two other salads, two appetizers, and three other types of rolls.


Lou's Sushi is located at 2801 P Street, and their phone number is 916-451-4700. Their website address is http://www.lousushi.com/ and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/LouSushi. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Tower Bridge Bistro

My husband, son, and I had a wonderful dinner Saturday night at Tower Bridge Bistro. Chef Clay Purcell has participated in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge ever since it began, and his vegan creations never disappoint. What makes it even better is that he offers so many vegan options during the Challenge. This year, his menu includes three appetizers, three main courses, and two desserts.


For the first course, both the Watermelon Gazpacho and the Quinoa Tabbouleh sounded good, but the Roasted Beet Bruschetta was the dish I decided I couldn't live without. It was a beautifully presented plate of crostini topped with hummus, roasted beets, and basil. Some of the dishes I've enjoyed the most during this year's Challenge have involved beets, and this dish just got added to my list of favorites too.




The entrée selections were Vegan Cassoulet, Sweet and Spicy Cous Cous, and Vegetable Bibimbap. Tough choice, but I finally decided on the cassoulet, a flavorful mixture of white beans, chickpeas, kale, and spinach cooked in a vegetable broth and topped with bread crumbs. It was an excellent dish for a fall night.




Dessert was a choice between the Chocolate Shake, made with chocolate, sweet potato, and almond milk, and the Panna Cotta, a vanilla-flavored custard made from soy milk and topped with a fresh strawberry compote. I picked the Panna Cotta, which turned out to be just enough dessert to top off a fabulous meal.




Tower Bridge Bistro is located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel at 100 Capitol Mall, and their phone number is 916-326-5050. Their website address is http://www.towerbridgebistro.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/towerbridgebistro. The Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu is available only during dinner, which is served Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- The Porch Restaurant and Bar

When I saw that The Porch Restaurant and Bar was going to be offering a fried beets appetizer during this year's Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge like they did last year, I knew a trip to the Porch was going to be in my very near future.


My husband and I headed over there Sunday night, and I was broken-hearted to discover that they were already out of the Cajun Fried Beets. Clearly, I wasn't the only vegan who had been looking forward to those beets since last year. So I skipped straight to the main course, where I had a choice between Frito Pie and the Pulled Squash Sandwich. I had seen a picture of the Frito Pie on Facebook, and it looked really good, so that's what I chose. It was a delicious casserole of corn chips and black-eyed pea chili, with a garnish of avocado and vegan sour cream.




The special Challenge dessert that night was the Apple Pear Crisp, served with vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream. So good!




I couldn't get those fried beets out of my mind, though, so I went back for lunch Thursday and made sure they had them available before I even sat down. They did -- chunks of Cajun-seasoned and floured fried beets, served with a lemon garlic aioli. They were just as good as I'd remembered them.




I also had a small Charred Avocado Salad, consisting of mixed greens, charred avocado, sliced almonds, radish, fresh orange segments, and a burnt orange vinaigrette. It contrasted nicely with the fried beets.




A new Challenge dessert was being offered in place of the crisp I'd had before -- Banana Cake with chocolate "butter cream" frosting and pecans, served with a side of vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream. Just look at it! There was no way I could pass it up, and it was worth every single calorie.




The Porch Restaurant and Bar is located at 1815 K Street, and their phone number is 916-444-2423. Their website address is http://www.theporchsacramento.com/ and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ThePorchRestaurant. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The Porch is serving their Challenge menu during both lunch and dinner. They are also offering a special Challenge brunch on the weekends.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2014 -- Blackbird Kitchen + Beer Gallery

I met a friend for lunch today at Blackbird Kitchen + Beer Gallery, which is participating in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge this year for the first time. They are expecting to offer different vegan items throughout the month, but at the moment, most of the vegan dishes they're serving are already on their regular menu.


The first course options were either the Pan Blistered Shishito Peppers or the Baby Beet + Brussel Sprout Salad. I'm not big on Brussels sprouts, but I love beets, so I opted for the salad. When the server brought it out, I was surprised to see that, instead of whole Brussels sprouts, there were individual leaves from the sprouts. I don't know how they prepared them, but they were crispy, as though they had been toasted briefly. The beets were diced and marinated, then served on a bed of lentils and some greens that I couldn't identify. As it turned out, those greens were shredded Brussels sprouts. This salad was excellent, and I'm so glad it's on their regular menu.




Next, I had the Risotto Burger, which has received rave reviews from many vegans I know. I liked it too -- a nice thick risotto patty topped with lettuce, tomatillo pico de gallo, and what the menu refers to as "vegan awesome sauce," served on a fresh bun. I can definitely see why it's so popular.




The only disappointment was that the vegan dessert created by Blackbird's chef specifically for the Challenge isn't available at lunchtime. Guess I'll have to head over for dinner some night so I can try that Poached D'anjou Pear with Sangria Sorbet.


Blackbird Kitchen + Beer Gallery is located at 1015 Ninth Street, and their phone number is 916-498-9224. Their website address is http://www.blackbird-kitchen.com/ and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/BlackbirdKitchenBar. The restaurant is open Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.