Saturday, November 10, 2012

Vegan on the Road: Green Wave Cafe, Plantation, Fla.

Today, "Vegan on the Road" refers to my local roads. About 20 minutes from my house is a raw vegan cafe that everyone raves about. Together with my friend Connie, I set off to see if it lived up to the hype. (Here's a spoiler: it absolutely does.)

The Green Wave Cafe in Plantation, Fla. is an unassuming little restaurant in a sleepy little strip mall. With only five tables and a few seats at the counter, its appearance doesn't really hint at how beloved it is by the local vegan and healthy eating community. However, from friends vegan and non-, I've heard nothing but praise.

The staff were friendly and welcoming when I arrived, and took the time to explain the cuisine - raw except the soup, soy-free except tamari, and all vegan. The menu features all familiar foods raw-veganized: nachos, pizza, burgers, spaghetti, brownies, ice cream, cheesecake. It was tough to decide what to try!

Our entrees, at $14 per, came with either soup or salad, but we decided to go with the whole raw experience. The salad was extremely generous - probably twice the size I'm used to getting as a starter in a typical restaurant. It was filled with more than just greens, too - peppers, sprouts, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers.

The menu features several homemade dressings. I tried the red pepper dill - which was so creamy and flavorful, but without being overpowering.

Next, the entrees. Connie opted for the "cheese" burger, while I had the open-faced hummus sandwich. Once the food got to the table, looking so appetizing, I asked her to split half and half.

The "cheese" burger was a raw vegan patty with a mushroom flavor. The texture was actually more burger-like than any veggie burger I've had. The cheese sauce had just a touch of spice to it. But the real star on the plate is the raw onion bread. Delicious!

The hummus was made from fresh sprouts and topped with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and alfalfa served on that delicious onion bread. The only thing missing was a hint of acid, which I resolved with a squeeze of fresh lemon. This was light but so filling.

I initially passed on dessert, but then I remembered my friend Nicki highly recommended the ice cream. I couldn't resist giving it a try. Connie ordered coffee ice cream and I ordered chocolate.

If we'd known how large the servings were (they were about 8 oz, for a mere $4) we would've split one. Even though I could only finish half, I'm secretly glad we didn't share, since it meant getting my first taste of coffee ice cream in over three years. (I'm glad I didn't order it myself because, as absolutely delicious as it was, I would've had a heart attack; I'm caffeine-free and the servings are huge.)

In the last few years, I've tried three or four brands of vegan ice cream, and many are good. But I can't say I've had a single one that captured the flavor and texture of ice cream as well as this. I actually was on the verge of questioning the server to make sure it really was dairy-free when I realized how ridiculous that would be to ask in an all-vegan restaurant. As I dawdled over it and it began to warm, the texture on the edges became a little bit like a mousse, but when frozen, it was indistinguishable from dairy ice cream.

Let's be frank, eighteen dollars for lunch is 20 - 30% more than you'd pay for a sit-down meal at a non-vegan restaurant. As a person on a budget, it's not something I'm going to do every day. But on the other hand, the food at Green Wave Cafe - fresh, organic, packed with nutrients unharmed by the cooking process - is without question the healthiest restaurant food you'll ever have. Amazingly, it's some of the tastiest too.

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