Sunday, January 14, 2007

Eat Your Veggies!

O.K… time to come clean. I was a vegetarian for about 11 years (even through one of my pregnancies) and loved it! After my late husband had his kidney transplant, he was told to drastically (if not completely) cut meat from his diet, since animal protein is difficult to digest and hard on the new kidney. To support him, I went cold 'turkey' & cut out meat completely, while he continued to order his Porter House medium rare. Although I've been eating meat again for about the last 7 years I still crave that great veggie meal, the one that fills you up without that 'stuffed’ feeling as you push yourself away from the table.

Years ago I found a vegetarian gem in Newport Beach called The Last Mango. It was an upscale eatery with an eclectic menu, beautiful presentation and most importantly, delicious food. Everything was outstanding but for whatever reason, they closed shop. Since then, I've been searching the O.C. for something similar with no success....until now!

I LOVE innovative vegetarian fare...something more than the standard vegetable stir fry & rice, and The Veggie Grill has it! The menu includes hearty Wheat Meat & Tempeh based sandwiches and sides. I've been several times now and not a single disappointment. On one visit my son ordered the Chill Out Wings (bite size 'chickin' with tangy BBQ sauce). I've enjoyed the Philly Peppered Steak (pepper seasoned wheat meat w/mushrooms, caramelized onion & cashew cheese), and the Don’t be a Chicken ('chillin' chickin', chipotle ranch, lettuce, tomato & red onion) all served on a whole wheat bun with slaw or you can upgrade to Sweetheart (sweet potato) fries, steamin kale or spring salad. They serve a variety of teas, natural sodas, organic beers and organic & low-sulfite wines.

Last night I had an empty nest and decided to treat myself. I was determined to order something new (I tend to stick to my favorites) and went for the Papa's Portobello & Sausage. This baby is loaded with Portobello mushrooms, Italian sausage-spiced wheat meat, tomato, basil & garlic pomodoro, caramelized onions & pesto.....come hungry! The slaw is lightly dressed and not overly sweet. Couple this up with a glass of organic house red and you're set!

The crowd is diverse, as you'd expect since they're located across the street from UCI. The decor is fresh and clean, lending itself fun & relaxed. The service is fast and friendly with none of the inconvenient hic ups you might experience in a such a new establishment. It's the perfect pre-movie dinner spot or just the place to grab something that's quick and healthy. The menu includes starters, entree salads, soups, sandwiches & burgers as well as deserts and a kids meal!

I got plenty of ribbing from my family and friends while I was on my 'reprieve from meat', but I tell you, once you've had good vegetarian'll be hooked. The Veggie Grill, you've got to try it!!!!!

Papa's Portobello & Sausage...$8.50
Organic Wine... $5.50

The Veggie Grill
4213 Campus Drive
Irvine, Ca. 92614


Chubbypanda said...

Mmmm... Love that place. You beat me to a review of it! Well, you and Gustavo Arellano. =b

- Chubbypanda

elmomonster said...

I had no idea this place even existed. You had me at "tempeh."

Juliet said...

Oh, man! My mouth was watering so bad! I love good vegetarian food!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Hey Deb,

Try this place for VNese vegan/vegetarian. Their claypot "catfish" uses seaweed to simulate fish skin. It also flakes like fish but it's all tofu. Their faux shrimp is also curved and pink like real shrimp.