Hotel Dining: Vegan Quinoa Cakes in Seattle

I travel a lot for work, organizing and hosting corporate health fairs. Last week I was hosting my last event of the season in Seattle, Washington. My coworker and I just headed to the hotel bar, Jimmy’s on First, for dinner–we were tired, and I can usually find something to modify or change. Plus, I’m usually open to eating french fries and salad, because yum. Any excuse to eat fried food is a good one in my book.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a clearly labeled vegan entree. Naturally I had to order it.

 

“Mac and Cheese…wish that was vegan. Fish Tacos?! Where’s Gardein when you need ’em?….OH! Quinoa & Chickpea Cakes??! Don’t mind if I do.”

Quinoa & Chickpea Cakes with tomato cumin jam, chimicurri sauce, pine nuts, braised local greens & seasonal vegetables. Duh.

 

Don’t mind the vertical phone pic; this way you get the see the lovely black bev naps.

The cakes were really filling; I think this might be the veggie burger patty they offer on the menu, because they’re pretty substantial. I could only eat one. The tangy tomato cumin jam was a nice compliment to the straightforward taste of the cakes. The greens were a nice bright addition, and the roasted carrots were sweet and simply seasoned.

I love it when restaurants have a clearly marked vegan option, and I’m happy to report that this was filling, hearty and tasty. If I stay at The Silver Cloud Inn again, I’ll definitely head back down for dinner. The only downside is that it’s right next to Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field, so apparently drunk fans regularly come in and pull the fire alarm. This happened while we were dining last week, with the alarm going steadily for 10 minutes until the Fire Department showed up.

No matter, a quick dip in the rooftop hot tub quickly dissipated any lingering irritations.

 

Yard House Opening

Hello again!! Nice to see your handsome little faces back here.  I took a little blog hiatus for a few months (helloooo, attention span! Nice to see you again.) and when I came back, an update completely dismantled my blog. Whoops! It took over a month and the kindness of a knowledgeable friend to help me get it back up and running. So now things are back to normal, I’m stoked, and ready to blog again!

 

Last week, I received an invite to the Yard House‘s grand opening at Pioneer Square in Portland. Color me intrigued! Gardein features prominently on their menu, so the assumption was there’d be some vegan munchies to try. Of course I was also looking forward to trying their beverage offerings. Yard House is primarily known for the beer selection; the Portland location has over 130 beers on tap. Whaaaat?! That’s my idea of heaven. Gimme all your beer.

 

A small sample of the beer selection

A small sample of the beer selection (I tried the Avery White Rascal.)

Yard House drink menu

Yard House drink menu

 

The drink list was extensive with pages and pages of beers, beer cocktails, mules, bubbly cocktails, martinis, mixed drinks, wines, and more.  The excitement!   When my guest and I arrived, we were handed two drink tickets each and ushered to a table reserved for us. We quickly found out that there were not any passed vegan appetizers; there were several vegetarian items, but nothing vegan as is. Disappointed, we made the decision to at least try several of the cocktails from the drink menu if we couldn’t eat anything. It didn’t hurt that we were given a handful of extra drink tickets. Party time.

 

ALL THE DRINK TICKETS

GIVE US ALL THE DRINK TICKETS

 

We tried many, many, many cocktails. For science.

 

A Manhattan and a Beer

A Manhattan and an Avery White Rascal. And a butt.

 

Hendrick's/Aperol cocktail on the left, and Heaven on the right: Hendrick's Gin, St Germain, Lillet Blanc, citrus agave syrup and orange bitters

Hendrick’s/Aperol cocktail on the left, and a French Gimlet on the right: Hendrick’s Gin, St Germain, Lillet Blanc, citrus agave syrup and orange bitters

 

My favorite was the French Gimlet (pictured above) and the Moscow Mule. I love it when bars serve Moscow Mules in traditional copper mugs.

Our server was great, and sent out one of the managers, Sean, when she realized we were interested in sampling vegan food, not the vegetarian options. He explained that a lot of the Gardein products are prepared using non-vegan methods; egg wash or buttery sauces, for example. Sean promised to look into this for vegans dining at Yard House in the future, and mentioned they’re looking into allergens listed for all the food their vendors provide. In the meantime, he was able to put together a dry Gardein sample with baby corn and bok choy.

 

Gardein samples

Yard House veganized Gardein samples

 

Sampling the Gardein

Samplin’ the Gardein

 

Not very exciting on one hand (the orange sauce wasn’t vegan); but on the other hand: vegan chicken! At a chain restaurant! That tastes good!

I’m always a bit surprised in Portland when chefs and owners don’t realize the pull of bringing in vegan and health-conscious customers with ready-made menu items, and it’s especially odd when a restaurant has an entire section devoted to a vegan product and then goes out of their way to unveganize it, but I do have hope that after being settled in Portland a bit, Yard House will be able to offer a few vegan options.

 

** Yard House invited me as a guest to sample their food and drink, but I received no compensation and it did not impact my review.

Vegan in Vienna

In the land of schnitzel and sausage, finding vegan food is surprisingly easy and quite delicious: from big buttery olives stuffed with chili peppers to smooth and creamy vegan ice cream, Vienna, Austria harbors a huge number of vegan delights for the vegan traveler.

A sampling of the vegan food you'll find in Vienna

A sampling of the vegan food you’ll find in Vienna

 

   Whenever people ask me some variant of, “Isn’t it hard to travel as a vegan?” my answer is typically, “No. Not at all. Vegan food is just fruit and vegetables and plants and grains–those are everywhere. And getting away from processed vegan foods is both enjoyable and good for me, so I relish the opportunity of eating just fresh fruit for breakfast or rice and veggies for lunch.”

   That’s true, to some degree, but when I answer that, I forget that I like food. I really like food. I like eating it, and looking for it, and thinking about it, and talking about it, and writing about it and photographing it, and sharing those photographs with anyone who has two eyes and an Instagram account. And my natural predilection when I’m traveling is to seek out the local delicacies, done vegan-style. And sometimes, when I’m wandering around a city where I don’t speak the language, and can’t read the signs or menus, and my stomach starts growling, I really wish I could just dive into a cheap and easy cheese pizza or not walk past mile after mile of affordable local-flavor cafes. I dream of vegan options around the world being more ubiquitous.

I'm dreaming of vegan options all the way 'round the world.

I’m dreaming of vegan options all the way ’round the world.

   

   So to be in Vienna, the land of wienerschnitzel and sausage, and find a good dozen vegan-friendly places, well, there goes my backpacking budget. (To be fair, my backpacking budget goes at the window at fairly everything. A glass of wine? Don’t mind if I do! Another glass? Well, OK, ‘cause YOLO. Oooh, a vegan bag of candy? OK! I’m basically a terrible backpacker.)

   Turns out, Vienna (or Wien, as it’s called locally. Pronounced Veen. See, now you’re a linguist like me) happens to be a vegan haven for its health-conscious and animal-lovin’ citizens. The specialties seem to include fake meats (which I’ve had in abundance), Asian-style food with fake meat (which I’ve also had in abundance) and healthy micro raw food (which I’ve had zero). And ice cream. Not the watery ice-y sorbet we vegans get as a token at most places (though I appreciate the token, I do, token-givers!); real, honest-to-goodness, creamy, cold and sweet vegan ice cream.

   So where did I find myself and what did I squeeze into three days?

Rauch Juice Bar Neubaugasse 13, 1070

   A large fresh-pressed juice or blended smoothie is under 5 euro, so when you need a blast of fruit and veg to get you through the fried-food bonanza that is Vienna, this is the place to go. Favorite juice: the Chill Out (apple, celery and carrot).

Fresh Juice in Vienna

Fresh Juice in Vienna

 

Rupp’s Vegetarian Pub  Arbeitergasse 46, 1050

   Purveyors of vegan schnitzel. Traditionally, schnitzel is pounded pork or veal, breaded and deep-fried. I’m all about breaded and deep-fried, but make mine cruelty-free, please! Rupp’s is located centrally, an easy walk or hop on the Underground (public transportation in Vienna is a dream to navigate, by the way). From what I can tell, the vegan options are available for dinner only.

   This is a vegetarian pub with all the vegan items clearly labeled. Big portions will fill you up easily, but make sure to save room for dessert–they offer an apple strudel that’s out of this world.

Formosa GmbH Barnabitengasse 6, 1060

   This vegan food store is also a restaurant that serves Asian-style mock meats and vegan fast food. With offerings as diverse as chicken burgers (skip that one, the ‘burger’ is half the size of the tiny bun) and hot dogs to Japanese duck curry and vegan Cordon Bleu, all items are under 10 euros and there’s something for everyone (provided everyone likes fake meat). The fried chicken was enjoyable–definitely needed that lemon wedge–though I found the potato salad to be too sweet. I came here twice–it’s affordable, located next to the Naschmarkt, and one of the only vegan cafes open for dinner.

   Bonus: vegan gummy sharks and cola bottles for sale by the register.

Chicken Fried Steak at Formosa

Chicken Fried Steak at Formosa

 

Xu’s Cooking Kaiserstraße 45, 1070

   Come here for the lunch buffet. At under 8 euros, it’s all-you-can-eat and mostly vegan. Soups, salads, spring rolls, fried rice (with egg), curry and multitudes of fakes meats will fill you up. Make sure to get a piece of the seasonal watermelon with your dessert at the end of your meal. It gets busy during the lunch hour, but the staff makes sure to keep the buffet stocked and loaded. One of my favorite places to eat due to the variety.

Vegan lunch buffet at Xu's Cooking

Vegan lunch buffet at Xu’s Cooking. Yes, that was too much wasabi.

 

Eis Greissler Rotenturmstraße 14, 1010

   One of the most popular and more affordable ice cream shops in Vienna, there’s almost always a line snaking out the front door. It’s worth the wait. Just under half their options are vegan, and there’s really no reason not to get a double scoop. In a vegan waffle cone, naturally. I regret not getting the apricot flavor, but both the elderberry sorbet and the chocolate ice cream were worth it. I would have gone back the following day if not for…

 

Veganista Neustiftgasse 23, 1070

   A recently opened all-vegan ice cream parlour centrally located. The staff is friendly and happy to answer questions, and while the scoops here are slightly more expensive than Eis Greissler, the array of options makes up for it. If the basilikum (basil) and orange saffron olive oil flavors are available when you stop by, make sure you try both. There’s always tomorrow to sample the others. My tomorrow involved the white chocolate and the Oreo cookie; the white chocolate was a tiny bit underwhelming, but the Oreo was delightfully chock full of cookies.

The vegan ice cream selection at both places was overwhelming, in the best possibly way.

The vegan ice cream selection at both places was overwhelming, in the best possibly way.

   

   This is only a portion of the vegan restaurants in Vienna; as you can see, eating vegan in Vienna is enjoyable and very easy. And if your sense of direction is better than mine, you may not need to cross-reference your Google Maps to get around; turns out every restaurant and cafe I went to was within in a 20-minute walking radius, making your vegan adventure accessibly and enjoyable.

 

For more reviews and listings for vegan food in Vienna, visit Happy Cow