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    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    You've got your tempeh in my tofu!

    Last weekend we discovered another wonderful restaurant. This time it was the Garden Grille Cafe in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Why are all the best spots a serious drive for us?

    The atmosphere is cozy and the waitstaff friendly (albeit very slllooowww, which is really my only gripe about the place). The walls are covered with art from around the world - think Ten Thousand Villages if they opened a cafe.

    I started my meal with the miso soup which had an interesting twist. It was served with a slice of crusty bread topped with black and white sesame seeds and anise seeds. The soup itself could've been warmer, but it was chockful of nori and tofu and was delicious. While I wolfed down my soup, Lys enjoyed her carrot ginger apple juice. My beverage of choice was a large pear lemon ginger juice. Their drink menu is pretty incredible -- a wide assortment of unique beers and wines, plus some amazing-looking cocktails that mix organic liquors and fresh fruit juices. Someone at the table next to us ordered the mojito which was the size of a big gulp.

    We also ordered a simple appetizer of chips and salsa/guacamole. Boy, did we wait a long time for it to arrive. It ended up showing up along with our entrees. We weren't too happy about that, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The salsa and guacamole were among the best I ever had. Served with warm chips, we dug in and there was no doubt that both dips were made fresh just moments before. If they had arrived earlier, we would've stuffed ourselves on the appetizer leaving no room for the main meal.

    The entrees were fantastic. My mixed grill was insane. I counted ten different items on my plate, including tons of grilled vegetables (eggplant, summer squash, sweet potatoes, onions, red peppers, portabellas, and asparagus), chipotle BBQ seitan, brown rice, a side of mixed greens, and a little silver pitcher of a sweet soy sauce. I definitely went overboard with my choice. Lys's entree was a little tamer but no less delicious - sweet potato risotto cakes.

    I did my best to clean my plate, but I already snuck a peek at the dessert menu and knew I had to leave room. We both got vegan chocolate desserts. I had the mousse, she had the cake. Meng, oh meng. Both went so well with our excellent mugs of coffee.

    The vegan icing on the cake was the moment our meals arrived and John Coltrane's A Love Supreme came over the speakers. That lilting intro saxophone riff was all I needed to make this one of the most perfect meals we've had in some time. (Ahem, except for the slllooowww service. But I'm not too stuck on that.) There's no doubt we'll make the 42 minute drive again sometime soon and anyone who'd like to meet up in Pawtucket, just let us know. Who knew the town that holds the record for the longest baseball game had other things to offer?