Monday, September 14, 2009

Philly Again: Mi Lah!

Ok, ok, I know. I'm all about NYC, but yet there are two posts about Philly and none for NYC. Reason being: I'm new to Philly AND blogging. I am going to have to backtrack to discuss NYC adequately...with perhaps a separate blogshrine voted entirely to my beloved Vegan Treats. But enough excuses for now.

Mi Lah Vegetarian: Beautiful restaurant near the theater district serving brunch, lunch, and dinner. A carnie, a vegetarian, and myself did the brunch; it was incredible. The $20 pre-fixe gets you bottomless coffee or tea (of the day), bottomless juice (choice of two delicious combinations), a platter of fresh fruit and assorted goodies (mini scones, muffins)- all served beautifully. Then you choose one of the plentiful options for your brunch: ranging from pure breakfast, to hearty combos, to exotic lunch-style concoctions. All for $20!

We were all feeling breakfasty, so the carnie and the vegetarian each chose the pancakes: 3 or 4 giant fluffy pancakes served with blueberry butter and pure maple syrup, with bacon on the side. Delicious and filling.

Thankfully, I was feeling adventurous and ordered what seemed like the consummate breakfast combo; was it ever. A ginormous vegetable omelet, tempeh bacon, a heap of red-skinned and sweet potato home fries, a thick slice of toast, and a giant pancake (with a generous serving of blueberry butter). Wow.

The omelet was incredible: huge, fluffy, smooth, creamy (vegan cheese?), and filled generously with an assortment of fresh veggies (mushrooms, red pepper, spinach). Can I just reiterate that it was an omelet? Not the requisite tofu scramble, but a beautiful, huge omelety omelet; it was very fancy! The tempeh bacon was smoky, but not all that bacony- perhaps because it wasn't crisp? But I love tempeh & this was no exception; it was cooked, seasoned, and served perfectly: yum. The home fries were seasoned the way I like them: lightly to allow the flavors of the potato to come through. Only complaint is that they were slightly undercooked. The pancake made a great "dessert", especially since I managed to stuff it in with the remainder of the vegetarian's pancakes like the glutton I am. Okay, really I'm just a sucker for syrup and any vehicle I can use with which to get it into my mouth.

I must note that the restaurant was beautiful, our waiter was friendly and informative, and the owner (?) was available, modest, and appreciative. I could have done without one of the other waitresses telling her diners, "I'm not vegan, but I don't eat red meat" {groan}, but everything else was spot on. All in all, a delicious, beautiful, hearty brunch spot that I would recommend to vegetarians and vegans, as well as carnivores who don't run screaming when they see tempeh, tofu, and seitan on the menu (although the pancakes are a suitable option for such scaredy cat carnies).

Next up was a trip to the Reading Terminal Market; I had no idea it was basically a giant food court, but was happy to find Basic Four Vegetarian Snack Bar. I was too full from brunch to partake in anything significant, but managed to enjoy a fresh, tasty, vegan, chocolate chip cookie. While not everything here is vegan, the people who work there are very knowledgeable about ingredients. In addition, the history of the place adds a lot of charm; read the story posted at the bar.

Finally, I stopped by Govinda's for the grand finale: Vegan Treats! While nothing beats the event and selection of going directly to the Bethlehem shoppe, I can't resist the temptation whenever the offerings are near. So, the three of us shared a favorite: the caramel apple crumb cheesecake (could this cheesecake be any lighter and creamier!?), a new try: banana chocolate chip cheesecake, and two slices of what has become all of our favorites: one I have dubbed the "Hostess" cake. I should note here that I rarely bother with dessert anywhere else because I know it can't compare.

In conclusion, I apologize profusely for the lack of photographic evidence. When I go to vegan establishments to dine I find that I am so overwhelmed by options that I no longer remember how to choose by "what I'm in the mood for" since I'm used to choosing the easiest option to veganize. So, I usually wind up not being able to decide and over-ordering. When the food comes looking so delicious I can't wait to dig in and, by the time I remember, the remnants of the delicious meal are not exactly photogenic. I am working on this; thank you for enjoying my blog in the meantime.

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