monster vs. monster

v.i.p. : garden grille
March 19, 2010, 9:46 pm
Filed under: vegan in providence | Tags: ,

A couple of Mondays ago, some cohort members and I trekked a whole two miles to Pawtucket for my very first experience with Garden Grille. Have you ever walked into a place and you know everyone there is just … happy ? That’s what Garden Grille is like. The waiters are friendly. The booths are many. The communal table is long and inviting.  The customers sharing our lunch hour ranged from the young and pierced to the old(er) and chatty to the businesslike and lunch-breaky. Everyone smiling. I suppose the sunshine didn’t hurt, but I imagine that’s the typical atmosphere at Garden Grille: welcoming and pleasant and community-oriented.

This place boasts a fully vegetarian menu with lots of (clearly-labeled) vegan and gluten-free options, a jam-packed smoothie list, organic beers and wines, and 100% takeout containers with corn-based utensils. We picked from their lunch menu, but they also have amazing brunch offerings (vegan. cinnamon. rolls.) as well as the most appealing and diverse dinner menu I’ve come across since leaving my beloved herbivore behind. If you get a spare moment, read the back of the menu for a delightful how-we-got-started story profiling the owner’s raw/vegan grandmother.

First up: Tuscan White Bean and Soy Sausage Soup. I didn’t get a taste of this one, but it looked hearty and it smelled amazing.

Followed by: Baked Macaroni with Broccoli and Crimini Mushrooms. I only got a small taste, but I thought the cheese flavor left a little to be desired – I’m guessing FYH mozzarella – and could’ve used a bit of garlic, maybe a pinch of salt, a dash of nutritional yeast. But the texture was spot on, and the crimini seemed to add a lot to the dish. And anyway, I tend to be skeptical of vegan mac & cheese and hard to impress, so don’t take my word for it here.

I ordered a plate of Garlic Collards with Pistachios. I had no idea I would get a whole bowl. I had no idea I could eat a whole bowl. These were the best collards I have ever had. They were cooked without getting limp and lifeless, infused but not overwhelmed with flavor. The pistachios added a smoothness and a creamy flavor that really grounded the spice of the garlic. A perfect side-dish. Every sandwich I have had since has seemed empty and vacant without a giant bowl of garlic-pistachio greens by its side.

And finally: the Seitan Mushroom Burger topped with Sweet Potato, Carmelized Onions, Arugula, and Chipotle Sauce on Country Bread, with a crispy coleslaw tossed lightly in oil and spices. Both were divine. Words cannot express how perfectly the Chipotle sauce tied together the sweetness of the onions and sweet potato with the rich and savory burger, or how delightfully strong a stance the peppery arugula took in every bite. I thought the flavors would overwhelm one another, but in each bite I could literally taste everything. It was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had – so good, in fact, that I feel bad calling it a sandwich. It was a…um…flavor orchestra? Do I sound like a Carl’s Jr. commercial?

I beamed through our entire lunch. In fact, this restaurant made me so happy, it actually upped my love of Providence about a hundred percent. I’m so relieved to find a place that has a ton of options and a laidback feel, stays open past dinnertime (9:30/10:00), and is super accessible. It’s located right on the 42 bus line on Hope street, just past the triangle-shaped park where Hope and and Blackstone merge. Go there. Now. I see springtime bike rides and days at the park and more sweet potato burgers in my future.


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