Last Fall I went back to being a vegetarian (okay, a pescatarian) after many years of meat eating because my cats – Petie in particular – seem barely a step removed from a bunny, lamb or piglet. A pig is potentially smarter (sorry sweetie, mommy loves you!).
While I’d been vegetarian during High School and College, I’d never understood the concept of being vegan. I mean, cows and chickens weren’t losing their lives so we could have eggs and milk right? Clearly I was oblivious to the horrors of the dairy farm industry. The more I learned the more I believed it to be just as bad if not worse than factory farming. So began my flirtation with veganism.
Turns out I am a terrible flirt (is there a parallel here with guys I wonder?). So when my friend J___, a real vegan, suggested we try a restaurant called “Rockin’ Raw” in Williamsburg, Brooklyn yesterday I was game. “Pure Food and Wine” is the only other raw restaurant I’d ever been to before and it’s very upscale (= not easy on the wallet!).
As the name suggests, “Rockin’ Raw” is a raw restaurant and a vegan one at that. ”Rawists” believe uncooked, unprocessed foods have the most nutrients so nothing is ever “cooked” in heat more than 115 degrees. I didn’t realize until this morning after doing research that not all “Rawists” are vegan, or even vegetarian. Some eat raw meet, fish and milk.
From the outside, “Rockin’ Raw” is unassuming. Entering into what looked to be a row house, we walked through a small, dark, warm restaurant that spilled into a surprisingly lovely garden in back. My only complaint was the amount of mosquitoes. I spent my dinner scratching and came home with a half dozen bites. Guess that’s what you get when you are surrounded by plants and trees (how soon we forget).
The waiters (both men) were thin and pale (hopefully because they avoid the sun and not because of their diet). We started off by ordering a bottle of vegan Pinot Gris ($28) that tasted like you’d expect a Pinot Gris to taste like (you didn’t think I’d go someplace for dinner that didn’t serve wine did you? ). They even have sake and cocktails on the menu. After coming home I went online to find out why all wines aren’t vegan and to my surprise it turns out most aren’t even vegetarian, – not even the organic wines! That will have to be my next “Flirting with Vegan” post!
It’s always hard to know how to order at a vegan restaurant as the ingredients often seem similar and it’s the way the dish is prepared that makes all the differences. And in this case because it’s a raw restaurant, the menu was devoid of familiar “soy” and “tofu” entrees you get at so many vegetarian restaurants. Luckily J___ had been there so she took the lead.
We started off with the appetizer of “Soul Chips and Dip of the Day” ($6) flax seed crackers more than chips, with a side of chunky salsa. They were fine but nothing to write home about.
For main courses we ordered two to share between us. Tacu-Tacu ($15) is a vegan take on a famous Peruvian dish and is made with wild rice, jicama, walnuts, sesame seeds, mushrooms and “magic spices” served with plantains and greens.
This is what the original looks like according to a google images search.
According to their website the restaurant is “live-vegan-raw-organic-peruvian-new-orleanian-creole-cuisine” but I didn’t realize this at the time (guess the mardi-gras bead strung up in the backyard should have clued me in). The Tacu-Tacu was pretty tasty, but I’m curious how it compares to the original dish.
My favorite was definitely the Rockin’ Raw Burger Platter ($15) – made with eggplant seeds, mushrooms and walnuts – even though it looked and tasted nothing like a burger.
Dinner felt healthy and was so satisfying we didn’t have room for dessert. Both main dishes we ordered were walnut based and came with the same greens. I’ll definitely go back to try some of the different menu items like the “live” pasta and maybe even a cocktail or “milk” shake. But next time, I’m bringing bug spray (something natural – of course!).
PS – Thanks to J__ for her iphone photography, great blogger I am without a camera!