After enjoying our drinks and appetizers, it was time to get down to the serious business of dinner – the entrees.
Valerie ordered the Vietnamese Crepe:
Filled with honshimeiji mushrooms, fried tofu, and mung bean sprouts, this crisp pancake was light, flavorful, and tasty with its spicy dipping sauce.
Several folks at the table ordered the Green Curry with fried tofu, mizuna & bok choy, maitake mushrooms and black rice cake:
The curry was pleasant, mild for green curry but with a terrific hint of lime. I found it slightly salty but the black rice cake was nicely chewy and it was all well-balanced.
Speaking of balance, the flavors in the spaghettini melded perfectly:
Another popular choice at the table, it combined smoked tofu, English peas, blanched almonds, and a “cream sauce” made from cashews. The smoked tofu was incredible, with a flavor and texture like smoked gouda, a perfect complement to the sweet English peas. To my taste the homemade pasta was a bit too soft; a function, I think, of being made without eggs. Other than that, this was close to my favorite dish.
The ultimate honor, however, ended up with my own entree:
This the phyllo purse! Stuffed with seitan, roasted zucchini, and caramelized onions, surrounded by a red mole, fire roasted peppers, arugula & pepitas, this was an outstanding combination of flavors and textures. The phyllo was crisp and golden, opening to all of the treats inside. Seitan, which is made from wheat gluten, is often used as a meat substitute, although personally I like it just fine on its own merits. The mole was smoky and complex and brought out the best in all of the ingredients. Should I return to True Bistro I may have a hard time ordering anything else…
When the time came for dessert our waitress asked us if she could make some recommendations. Naturally we agreed – who better to help us make our choices? She recommended, and we ordered, the following:
The coconut pie. This was pretty much a no-brainer anyway; it’s always raved about in reviews, and it’s even won vegan baking praise from PETA. A blood orange sauce is swirled around a slice of what almost resembles a firm coconut pudding topped with toasted coconut; the crust is some sort of short bread or crumble. It’s NOT meant to be coconut cream, and so it is not, but it IS creamy on its own right. Not being the world’s biggest coconut fan (I like the taste, but the texture of dried coconut squicks me out) I liked this just okay, but LOVED the blood orange sauce. Drip that on some good vanilla and we’d have a serious winner. If you DO love coconut, this is pretty outstanding.
Her second choice was the newest dessert on the menu, a raspberry Napoleon:
Traditional Napoleons are made with puff pastry layered with pastry cream or whipped cream, and iced. Puff pastry = butter and pastry cream is out for the obvious reasons, so this was instead sugar phyllo dough with a filling of white chocolate “mousse” and topped with raspberries and a raspberry reduction. Again, the fruit here was the big winner, sweet and tart at the same time and very, very fresh. The sugared phyllo was a hit too, crispy and not too sweet. The white chocolate mousse was good and creamy, but a bit unexciting in the way that white chocolate always is.
However, the final recommendation was exciting indeed!
That, my friends, is the “death by chocolate” cake. Covered in creme anglaise and shattered caramel, this blew me away. In part this was because I was expecting chocolate cake, as in birthday cake. I do not really care for chocolate cake. It is always disappointing to me, because it doesn’t really taste like chocolate, and cake is just not my jam. It’s like sub-par, sugary bread. THIS chocolate cake, on the other hand, was a riff on flourless chocolate – creamy, intensely cacao-flavored, barely sweetened, and covered on top with one of my favorite desserts, burnt sugar. Hard to go wrong with that combination, and I was all the more impressed when I found out that it’s made with silken tofu! If I can ever get my hands on this recipe, look out!
All in all, True Bistro exceeded my expectations of what a vegan restaurant can do. My favorite dishes were those that didn’t try to replace animal products so much as demonstrate that you don’t always need them to make great food. Thank you to Mr. Menace, Elise, Valerie, Dan, Aime, Gary, Sarah and Andrew for sharing this adventure with me!