Posts tagged ‘Miami’

July 20, 2011

Cinebistro at Dolphin Mall has a Secret Weapon: Chef Justin

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

Jessica and I have a taste for the finer things in life: food, wine and movie theatres that are not only 21+ (to keep the rifraff kids out) but also provide plush seating with waiter service. While these things all come at a premium, who really can put a price on comfort?  And Cobb Cinebistro at the Dolphin Mall in Miami, FL certainly knows it. Paying double the normal movie ticket price will bring you not only a movie sans crying babies, but also uniformed servers at your beckoning call, bringing you foodie delights from wonderful Chef Justin and his crew, along with great bar service. “But Ashley,” you say, “there aren’t any real vegan or vegetarian options on the menu!” To that, my dear friends, I send you to Chef Justin.

As head chef at the Cinebistro in the Dolphin Mall, all he needs is a short e-mail requesting an item for your diet and he’ll promise to whip you up something special while you’re visiting. Now, I’m not sure that he really wants me posting his e-mail out there in cyberspace for all the spammers to get ahold of, therefore I leave you with the contact form to Cinebistro (which is how I found him originally anyway) and they will forward it to him right away. Click here to send them an e-mail.

For $10.00 (a steal!) Chef Justin specially made me a veggie sushi roll, each piece enormous enough for three bites. I was starving, so I also ordered a hummus appetizer (on Jessica’s recommendation – I told you she likes the finer things in life, she comes here all the time). The sushi roll was so fresh and delicious, better than any other vegetable sushi I’ve ever had. The hummus is also amazing, so much so that I ordered extra pita to eat every last drop that was on my plate. I’m a salt-a-holic, so the saltiness of the olives they use as a garnish really make the dish spectacular.

Next time you are looking for a great date spot or girl’s night out, Cinebistro is certainly the place to be.

June 17, 2011

Miami Lakes’ Own Tex-Mex Haven: Cancun Grill

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

A substantial, healthy meal is hard to come by in Miami Lakes, FL, the mecca of chain restaurants and fast food. However in the middle of this mess is an inconspicuous Tex-Mex restaurant named Cancun Grill that actually offers several vegetarian options. While I haven’t yet tried, I’m sure they would also amend some of these options to be vegan, as well.

Their triple vegetarian combination is my favorite dish here. It comes with a black bean tostada, a veggie enchilada and a spinach quesadilla, with a side of refried beans and yellow rice. It is enough food for at least two people, and at a price of just $7.00, it really is a steal. The veggie enchilada actually comes sans cheese, so it could possibly be vegan (not sure about the butter content). It is really delicious, though. Freshly cut squash and zucchini wrapped in a soft flour tortilla and topped with a tomato salsa. The vegetables seem to be marinated and then steamed fresh; they have a great fresh bite and wonderful flavor. The spinach quesadilla is actually more full of steamed spinach than cheese, with just a little bit of cheese, but I love spinach so I am more than happy with it. It’s also a nice change from the normal cheese-laden, flavorless quesadillas of chain restaurants. A toasted tortilla really makes a difference with flavor, too.

By the time I’ve tackled both the spinach quesadilla and the veggie enchilada, I’m usually too full to continue. The refried beans are good, but not much different from what I’ve tasted in other Tex-Mex establishments. The yellow rice pales in comparison with the other items on the plate. I do like the black bean tostada, but it isn’t my favorite item in the dish. It is basically two crunch-fried corn tortillas topped with a heavy serving of black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese and sour cream. I normally nibble on just the black beans as I’m deciding that I really should stop because my stomach feels like it’s going to explode.

While the noise level is lively, it isn’t anything overwhelming. I’ve not been here during dinner, however during lunch they do have quite a following. And that’s good – that means turnover is good, the food is fresh and they have tons of regulars.

At the moment their website is down, however Menu Pages has a good listing on them that includes their menu:

http://southflorida.menupages.com/restaurants/cancun-grill/menu

June 13, 2011

Follow the Food Trucks!

by jem614

by Jessica Michael

Unexpectedly, after church on Sunday, we were told that there would be food trucks coming.  My first reaction was, “oh disgusting, a bunch of grease traps on wheels”.  My husband’s first reaction, “Oh yeah, Baby, we’re staying for lunch!” Needless to say, I lost out so our lunch on Sunday was from a food truck, albeit a rather glamorous one.  I can’t say that it was entirely healthy but I can say that it was delicious.   The Goat Cheese Veggie Philly (the vegetarian “Philly Cheese Steak”) looked fresh and smelled amazing, I had my doubts that there would be any vegetarian options.  The only negatives were that the sandwiches were on white bread that looked similar to overgrown hot dog buns which turn into sugar once it goes down and the veggies on the sandwich were just a tad overcooked. However, it was eons better than expected and fun to eat; though my husband did down half of my sandwich before I had my first bite.

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All in all it was a great experience.  One person I met there asked if this was my first time with the food trucks and I had to ask her, “you’ve done this before?”.  She filled me in a little on “food truck mania”, she had been to an event at a catholic church a month or two before, in the evening.  They had spread out a blanket, brought their friends and family and had a great time.  Churches seem to use food truck events  for collecting donations for mission teams, etc. but it can be pricey paying for both the donation and your food.

I do recommend doing a food truck event at least once, it’s an experience that ranks up there with buying a knock-off in China Town.

Next up- a Petition for a Vegetarian/Vegan food truck!

They get four carrots for fun and three for healthy options (but let’s face it, you’re not there for the health options).

You can follow the food trucks at http://www.miamifoodtrucks.com to see where their next event will be.

Update! The food truck event I went to was in the SunSentinel today! http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/miramar/fl-cn-foodtruck-0619-20110618,0,6256911.story

May 20, 2011

Elevation Burger Part II

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

I had extremely high hopes for this restaurant after the first signs were posted on its windows a few months ago. It’s located dead behind my all-time favorite fast food restaurant, Chic-Fil-A, which is how I found it. Jessica and I have been talking for so long about how we need more vegetarian lunch options in the neighborhood, and sure enough, Elevation offers two: one for vegetarians and one for vegans.

The first vegetarian patty they offer is rice-based and, according to the owner Magali Vannier, contains mozzarella cheese for flavor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t taste the mozzarella cheese and the rice made the patty a little dry. The second option is vegan, with no cheese in the patty, and is entirely vegetable-based. It is moist, yet thinner, and more abundantly seasoned. I wasn’t so sure about this place after our first visit eating the vegetarian burger, however after our vegan burger, I’m positive we’ll return.

As Jessica mentioned, they offer the choice to put any burger, including the organic grass-fed beef patties, on lettuce instead of their roll. I highly recommend this, especially with the vegan burger, as the flavor was actually much better without a hunk of bread in the way. And just as Ms. Vannier said to us the first time we met her, it certainly leaves more room for the fries.

My suggestion to Elevation Burger? VEGAN CHEESE! I actually ordered a vegan burger with cheddar and felt like it was sacrilege

The french fries here are cooked in heart-healthy olive oil, which is certainly a step up from canola oil. The only problem is that they seem to be hit and miss. With the burning point of olive oil so low, it is really difficult to get a good crisp fry without it absorbing tons of oil. The first time we visited the fries were excellent, perfectly salted and crispy. This time they fell a little short, but they weren’t incredibly greasy, just somewhat limp. Hopefully this was just an off day for them.

The ordering process here is similar to many other fast-food restaurants, you choose the patty and basic sandwich that you want, add your own toppings, and then order fries and/or a drink. You pay and then a food runner will bring the tray to you when you’re ready. There is a drink fountain as well as milkshakes available. The milkshakes were good, but incredibly rich and only one size, something I wouldn’t be able to eat more than once every month or two. It would be great if they sold kid’s sizes for the option of indulging a little more often.

Overall, this place is a great step towards healthier, vegetarian and vegan cuisine in Miami Lakes. It is certainly wonderful to have options other than salads and Asian food. While they do have a few little kinks to work out, it is a great establishment and one that I will most certainly frequent. For being open only two weeks, they have much more time ahead of them to learn and grow.

May 19, 2011

RAAW Carrot Lemonade

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

I bought a bottle of It Tastes RAAW Carrot Lemonade at my health food market today while picking up lunch, thinking it would be a nice drink to calm my appetite while driving back to work. I especially liked that it is manufactured here in Miami, as I like to support local brands as much as possible.

Unfortunately, upon opening the container a strong smell, almost like when you’re walking into an older vitamin store when there is a strong smell of open capsules. If you’re from Miami and you’ve been to that old health food store next to Jimmy’z Kitchen on Alton Road, then you know what I’m talking about. But, despite the smell, I decided to dive in and try a sip. To my dismay, it tasted almost worse than it smelled. I turned the bottle over and read the ingredients, “Carrot Juice, Pineapple Juice, Apple Juice, Lemon Juice…” well, those things cannot possibly taste this badly. I could blend those in my home blender and make a great juice. I continued reading “Natural Flavors, Apple Pectin & Beta Carotene”…wait, what exactly is “Natural Flavors”? And why would we need more beta carotene added to carrot juice?

I hate to do this to RAAW, however I just really did not like their juice. I really hope that they rethink this recipe and come up with something more natural and pleasant.

May 18, 2011

Heaven and Earth – Part II

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

Pho lovers rejoice – there is a heavenly veggie version just a short drive from Miami. A traditional pho with a twist, Green Papaya’s version is loaded with freshly cut broccoli, onions, carrots, cucumbers and perfectly boiled tofu. Hints of cilantro and mint finish this delightful concoction of veggie Vietnamese goodness.

For those who haven’t yet tried Pho, it is a soup that originated in the Nam Dinh province of Vietnam. It is traditionally served with either chicken or uber-rare beef, the meat cooking in the steaming broth, and garnished with bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, hot sauce, jalapenos, lime wedges and various other regional pastes, sauces and herbs.

Green Papaya does make the more traditional chicken and beef Pho, being the omnivore that I am I’ve tried both thinking they might be better than the veg version, but nothing can top the amazing Heaven and Earth Soup. Delicate noodles dance around the bowl, marrying with vegetables and tofu into a truly amazing dish that could inspire even the most stubborn omnivore that not all vegetables are evil.

Green Papaya itself is a super cute mom-and-pop sort of a place, and while they have a bit of turnover with their employees, the staff has always been friendly. As Jessica mentioned before me, the wait time for food can be a little long (hopefully meaning that they are preparing each dish fresh, as they sometimes have quite a wait even when they’re empty), but the food is more than worth it.

Another must-try for my omnivorous friends is the special fried rice, which has to be the most delicious and different fried rice I’ve ever tasted in my life. For all, the boba tea they serve there is also quite tasty, but I cannot attest to its authenticity as I have never tried another boba tea. Their version of Taro Boba Tea is a purplish-blue color with a slightly fruity flavor. The most fun part about the boba tea are the tapioca balls that swim along the bottom of the glass. They provide you with a large-mouth straw to pull up the pinball-sized morsels, who knew you could chew tea?

Green Papaya is a must-try for any Pho fanatic, especially those who are looking for a healthier, vegetarian alternative. Prices are a little steep for the area, at around $15.00 per person including soup, boba tea, tax and tip.

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