There are more places to pick when looking to eat vegan in Nashville now there was ten years ago even five years ago. Locally owned and operated eateries are mingled in with chain restaurants and many of those chains are shunned. I eat at local places as much as possible but I refuse to support a local place if their food is poor just like I refuse to spend money on bad food at a chain. I have recently noticed a lot of backlash for chains even though the food may be good and clear vegan choices are available. I’m not referring to TGI Friday’s, Chili’s, Olive Garden or Ruby Tuesday as those restaurants have little to nothing to offer a vegan let alone a vegetarian. My question is do you avoid all chain restaurants and go local only even if the local option offers a subpar meal? How important is it to you?
Archive for the ‘Local’ category
We all have those times when we just want a greasy treat and you want that treat topped with mustard, ketchup, relish and maybe a heap of sauerkraut. If you’re vegan or vegetarian and that hunger hits you should find yourself at Cori’s DogHouse.
You can have your dog served up anyway you like and the menu is fairly extensive. For the vegans and vegetarians you can choose from a Lightlife dog or a Tofurky Italian Sausage or Kielbasa. After that small decision it’s up to you on which direction to travel. I personally go for a New Jersey Italian with deli mustard, fried potatoes and grilled onions and peppers or a Chicago with tomatoes, onions, dill pickle, hot peppers, mustard, celery salt and add sauerkraut. Our first visit we were inquisitive about the buns, which are just sliced thick bread, and the “butter” for the buns which is just a vegetable oil. We were assured both were actually vegan and were shown the packaging to view ingredients.
You can also get your dog with a heaping side of hot crispy fries. I recommend it. I mean, if you’re going to indulge in the dog why not go all the way. You can always run a few extra miles or sweat them off with another hour of hot yoga or something like that.
After you devour that dog be sure to go back for a second and try something new. It’s worth it. I always do.
Cori’s Doghouse has two locations, Nashville’s West End and Mt. Juliet in Providence Marketplace.
106 29th Avenue North
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
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401 South Mount Juliet Road
Mount Juliet, Tennessee 37122
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Things I love: cooking, spending time in the kitchen, planning a great vegan meal and creating recipes. Just because I love those things doesn’t mean everyone does. For those that really don’t like meal planning and cooking there’s My Veggie Chef. Being one who loves all of those things and loves to put a dinner together form scratch I had to put myself in a different mode for this. I’m not accustomed to having a ready-to-cook meal supplied to me. I decided to go through this review with a mindset of someone who needs that ready to go meal waiting. I’ll put away my make it my way ideas and be the kitchen amateur for this. Well, a little bit at least. I did take a few liberties here and there. I couldn’t resist.
My Veggie Chef is a food preparation and delivery service in the Nashville area operated by Kristen Agee. No, Ms. Agee will not come to your home and take over your kitchen like to some high-priced celebrity personal chef in the Bentley-driven hills of Bel Air. Instead she will prepare your completely vegan meals in her kitchen and deliver them to your home. Individual ingredients are pre-measured and supplied in containers with easily followed instructions. All you add is a small amount of time and maybe water where needed. It’s very simple to have a healthy, vegan meal without all the pre-planning required and trips to the grocery store.
The week of meals from My Veggie Chef that I was supplied were Veggie Burgers, Tuscan White Bean Soup, Roasted Corn Chowder, Pasta with Caramelized Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto and Tofu with Veggies over Tomato Couscous. All five meals were individually packaged in Ziploc bags with smaller bags inside for each ingredient. On the outside of the main bag is a sticker with preparation instructions. Everything is typed out neatly but the only thing I would consider adding to the instructions is prep time. Some people like to know exactly how long it will take from the time they start to pour the first ingredient in the pan to the time they’ll be taking their hot vegan din-din from the oven. For parents who pick up kids at school or whatever practice and have a short time at home before dinner must be served that knowledge is helpful. If I have five meals waiting at home for me to choose form ranging in 30 minutes prep to 2 hours and I know Wednesday night I’ll have only 45 minutes when I arrive home to get dinner made before the kid has to go to bed but Friday night I’ll have all afternoon to get dinner planned. I’ll be saving that 30 minute meal for Wednesday night and the 2 hour dinner will likely be made Friday. It’s better to know at a glance.
I’m a veggie burger lover and since the complete prep for a veggie burger is there (including buns!) I made that the first meal to try. A bag of TVP mixed with spices, corn starch and brown rice flour was supplied as well and a smaller bag of ketchup and vegan Worcestershire sauce. The instructions stated to boil a cup of water and pour it over the TVP mixture then empty the ketchup bag into that and stir to combine. Once mixed well I was to let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. OK, here’s where I had time to reflect on making veggie burgers and how I like them. I skewed just a little but not in the basic directions. A hot pan was ready and into it I put a sliced onion to caramelize while I waited for the burger mixture. Once the mixture was ready I made four patties and put them into my hot skillet. The directions stated to cook for 5 minutes on each side. Now, I’m sure that sufficient to heat the burgers through but my crazy cook mentality took over. I wanted to see if these things could hold up to the onions and that meant a nice crispy outside and that meant AT LEAST 30 minutes in the pan if not longer.
The moment you know if you have a homemade veggie burger patty that’s going to work is when you make that first flip with your spatula. I was unsure and honestly had little hope of flipping a burger and it coming down in one piece. No problem, a perfect flip. I covered the pan, a step not stated in directions but a staple in my own veggie burger cooking as it lets the heat cook the burger more evenly and provides a moister burger, and flipped them every few minutes. After about 45 minutes on medium-low the My Veggie Chef veggie burgers were ready. Next step in my veggie burger prep that was not in the directions: a toasted bun! Really, who wants a burger on a cold, clammy bun?I put the buns in the pan with the patties and toasted them well so they were nice and brown on the outside yet warm and steamy moist inside. Time to give these veggie burgers a taste, a patty on a toasted bun spread with some Earth Balance mayonnaise and topped with those delicious caramelized onions. I’m thinking these ingredients are too simple and likely I’m going to have a bland burger screaming for flavor. No, actually a very tasty burger! onions. The burgers were spiced well and the texture was excellent. Actually better that some veggie burgers I’ve had in local restaurants. Is it the most complex flavor with perfect fresh ingredients? Well, no but you’re looking for a ready to go meal and that’s what you get. Still, much better than the over-processed frozen patties you’ll find in the grocery freezer.
The next meal I tried was Tuscan White Bean soup. The contents were in two bags. One bag contained onions and a very important ingredient that was not listed on the ingredient list: garlic. Most wouldn’t think anything of this but if you’re allergic to garlic then this is a big issue. Mrs. Nashveggie is allergic to garlic so luckily I caught it which wasn’t hard since I have a nose in the middle of my face. The second bag contained a white bean tomato sauce mix. The cooking instructions for this one was simple. Saute the onion mixture for five minutes then add 3 cups of water and the contents of the bean bag. Cooking this for 45 minutes you should have a ready to eat soup. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. After the stated 45 minutes at a boil the beans were still hard and inedible. It took a full 3 hours before the beans were soft enough to eat. For me this soup needed a signature addition to make it Tuscan White Bean soup: Kale. About 15 minutes before the soup was to be served I added 2 cups of shredded kale and it made the dish.
Next up, Roasted Corn Chowder. Another two bag meal this one was stated to be ready in about 15 minutes with the combined cooking times of each stage. Instructions were similar to the Tuscan White Bean soup. One bag contained onions and peppers to be sauteed for five minutes. The next bag contained spices and corn to be added along with one cup of water. The next step left a bit of confusion. ‘Add soymilk’. How much soymilk? A guess? To taste? Being a seasoned cook I had a general idea but for the person likely preparing these meals it could be a loss. I added 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened soymilk and cooked for the stated time but the flavors just didn’t seem to mesh. I simmered another 30 minutes and this one was just flat. If I added too much soymilk causing the flavor to become bland then there would be very little soup between 2 people by adding any amount less. It definitely needs more in the flavor department.
Pasta with Caramelized Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto I made for a quick dinner one night after getting home late. I think “caramelized cauliflower” is a misnomer. It should be “roasted cauliflower” as you’re doing no more than roasting the cauliflower in the oven for a short time until it’s lightly brown. The cauliflower did roast nicely with a little salt and pepper and pasta is simple enough to prepare. The pesto, however, was a bit bland. It could have used some salt and was missing the key nuttiness I find a staple in pesto. I typically use walnuts or cashews in my pesto and I’m not a fan of the traditional pesto ingredient of pinenuts but any of the three would have been a welcome addition.
The final meal in the pack to be prepared was Tofu with Veggie over Tomato Couscous. This one took a bit more prep time than some of the others. Frying tofu then frying veggies as well as the plan ahead if following the package direction, which I did, meant knowing 24 hours ahead you’d be eating this meal. The first step is to fry the tofu in a little oil. I did just that but quickly noticed that the tofu was just plain tofu, unseasoned. I did not waiver from the instructions by adding any seasoning but any vegan knows what unseasoned tofu tastes like, nothing at all. Tofu prepared I sat it aside and went in on the veggies by frying them in the same manner. Nice chunks of artichoke with carrots and small slivers of peppers went into the pan and I quickly noticed this dish was heavy on the cumin as the scent quickly filled the house. Water and tomatoes boiled and couscous was ready. All together and ready to eat this one turned out fairly well except for the tasteless tofu. I would recommend some seasoning added to the tofu beforehand. It would make this dish stand out and give it the flavor where it was lacking. The veggies tasted very good with the couscous, however.
These meals when following directions needed a nudge here and there. If you’re comfortable enough in the kitchen then these will give you enough of a start to where you can add your own touches to make then a little better than out of the bag. As I stated a few places, some extra seasoning, and extra directions, would come in handy.
You can sign up for emails from My Veggie Chef as well. Doing so will get the weekly menu sent to you so you can decide if you’re feeling that weeks flavors. You can then go to the website and order your meals.
The meals I reviewed were enough for 2-3 people but My Veggie Chef has an option for meals for 4-6 people. Meals for 2-3 cost $80 for five meals and the 4-6 serving 5 meal plan is $160. Despite the shortcomings with some of the meals I tried this is an excellent service for local vegans, or vegetarians and even those who just want to eat a little healthier, and those who are in a time crunch to prepare dinner My Veggie Chef can help you out. My Veggie Chef only delivers within a 20 mile radius of downtown Nashville but outside of that delivery area pick-up is available.
A new vegan option has cropped up in the Coolsprings area. Brixx:Wood Fired Pizza has opened on McEwen Drive next to Whole Foods and behind Bricktops. I managed to get a pre-opening invite to enjoy dinner while they practiced their daily motions thanks to Coolsprings.com.
The website and menu clearly states many of their items can be made vegan and that they offer vegan cheese as a substitute for regular cheese at no extra charge which is uncommon as there is typically an extra cost for this which most restaurants adopt. Brixx uses
Follow Your Heart mozzarella (UPDATE: Brixx is now using Daiya mozzarella as their vegan cheese option)so you’ll be getting a quality vegan cheese and it’s truly vegan so no worries about whether it contains casein.
Our complimentary dinner included one appetizer, a salad, two pizzas, a sandwich and a pasta dish.
We chose the Wood Fired Pita Chips and Three Dips as our appetizer. It was served on a large plate with three small scoops of hummus: black bean hummus, roasted red pepper hummus and traditional hummus. The hummus was served on a bed of greens and topped with roasted red peppers and cumin. Pita triangles, the equivalent of about three pitas, that had been toasted in the pizza oven were served around the perimeter of the plate. The hummus was very thick which made dipping a bit hard but flavorful and at $5.95 was a good appetizer though I would like a little more hummus. I didn’t get to eat much of this one as the kid really enjoyed it and decided to take it for her own. That’s a positive vote for the hummus.
Our salad was a modified Brixx Salad. We modified this one by simply leaving off the goat cheese. The salad is a spring mix topped with croutons and pistachios and served with a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s served with a large piece of focaccia which looked to have cheese toasted onto it so we just ignored the bread. I’ll be sure to inquire next time about it as it did look very inviting sitting on the edge of the plate. Another $5.95 selection and worth it. I would consider it a big salad. It’s enough to share if you’re having an entree as well.
We chose two pizzas, the Artichoke which is served with a basil pesto instead of red sauce. We asked our server if the pesto contained cheese and she quickly ran back to the kitchen to ask. She returned to tell us it did and we substituted red sauce instead. Substituting seems to be welcome at Brixx and didn’t throw any confusion into the process so have at it if need be. The Artichoke pizza is topped with artichokes, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. This pizza could be named the 80’s pizza. Anything with sun-dried tomatoes belongs in the 80’s. Not that I’m complaining about sun-dried tomatoes, I love them. Then again I love the 80’s, so there. Of course, we also substituted the mozzarella for Follow Your Heart cheese. Our second pizza was the Wood-Roasted Vegetable. This was more of a typical veggie pizza with mushrooms I couldn’t tell which type exactly, broccoli, bell peppers and onion. Substituting Follow Your Heart cheese this was also a very good pizza but I think I pick the Artichoke pizza as my favorite of the two. I just really like artichokes on a pizza and then there’s that 80’s thing. The kid got her own kid-sized pizza with red sauce and vegan cheese. She devoured the entire pizza, a good mark as this kid is a very picky eater.
All of Brixx’s pizzas are on a thin, crisp crust and baked in a wood oven. The crust is available in original white flour or whole wheat and both contain nothing animal-derived right down to the turbinado sugar used. These are 100% vegan pizzas when ordered with Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. Brixx also serves pizzas with a gluten-free crust option at a $2 upcharge giving the gluten-challenged a pizza beacon that some may have missed for some time. Prices for the pizzas range from $8.95 to $11.95 though a pizza without all of the animal accoutrements will be in the $8.95-$9.95 range. These are 10-inch pizzas, six slices per pizza and with a good dose of toppings. Another note to keep in mind, after 10pm all pizzas and appetizers are 2-for-1. Get your late-night munchies on!
We also ordered a Wild Mushroom Wrap. I expected the typical wrap: fillings in a run-of-the-mill tortilla. I don’t know why I expected that but that’s the typical wrap these days. That’s not what we got. We were served a mix of portobello, shitake and white mushrooms, spinach and Follow Your Heart cheese wrapped in a slightly toasted pizza crust. One of the franchisees came to our table and explained that they put the pizza crust in the oven for two minutes and then wrap the fillings in it. This is a great wrap. The pizza crust made this wrap superb not to mention the fresh, tasty fillings. If you’re ordering this as a vegan be sure to leave off the sun-dried tomato (80’s) aioli and substitute the Gorgonzola cheese. $7.95 for the Wild Mushroom Wrap. All sandwiches and wraps are served with a choice of pasta salad, bean salad, fresh fruit or chips.
We didn’t get a pasta as we were already feeling like pigs. There are vegan options on the pasta menu and whole wheat pastas are available as well.
Brixx also has a wide range of beers on tap including Abita Root Beer for the sugar-fiends. With the 2-for-1 pizza deal and array of brews look for Brixx to be busy late nights and with the delicious food they should keep a good crowd at all other times. I’m proud to have a new vegan option in Coolsprings.
UPDATE: Brixx now uses Daiya mozzarella as their vegan cheese option.
(Brixx also has a location in Hendersonville at 300 North Indian Lake Boulevard.)
Brixx: Wood Fired Pizza
1550 West McEwen Drive Suite 10
Franklin, Tennessee 37067
Hours: Monday – Saturday 11am-1am, Sunday 11am-11pm
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Since the writing of this article it has been pointed out to me by some who work at Burger Up that the Marathon burger mentioned in this article is no longer vegan. One of the ingredients is Worcestershire sauce containing anchovies. Note: Worcestershire sauce is also in the homemade ketchup they serve.
UPDATE: Burger Up is now open. If you have made a visit please take the time to let me know what you thought in the comments. – I have been reading of the new black bean/quinoa burger at Frothy Monkey for a few weeks on Twitter and had a standing reservation for one form Miranda, the owner, for some time but never could make it because of other obligations. This weekend we finally made it on the last day they would be available before the opening of Burger Up just down the street. My trips to Frothy Monkey have only been for coffee in the past I have never really looked at their menu which has a few vegan selections. The burgers are not on the menu but were on a spur of the moment availability. The burgers can be ordered with a wheat bun or sourdough bread. Those working were unsure if the wheat bun contained honey so we opted for the sourdough. Our burgers were served topped with tomato slices and hummus and a side of tortilla chips and salsa. I’m not a big fan of the black bean veggie burger variety. Usually they are over-spiced with cumin to the point there’s no other flavor but these burgers were great. No over-powering spice and they held together very well, something not easily found in housemade veggie burgers. The hummus was a very nice addition. We were told by Miranda, the owner, that Burger Up will hopefully open by April 1st. They will also be serving baked fries for those who prefer something hot and crispy on the side. Future Location of Burger Up: