I have to write about this new restaurant I discovered. I've been attempting for some time to go somewhat vegetarian/vegan. I say somewhat because I want to keep fish and seafood but I'd really like to limit eggs and dairy. Its been interesting doing eat out food without meat since that's what most of their menus are built around. I enjoy the black bean soft tacos at Chipotle's, and the veggie burger at Burger King, and the shrimp and spinach salad at Applebee's. At the Olive Garden I could live forever on their Portabella Mushroom Ravioli, with sun dried tomato sauce. However my absolute favorite place to eat out for a quick lunch is Panera. They usually have 2-3 vegetarian soups on the menu, and 2-3 delicious vegetarian sandwiches. My current favorite is the Mediterranean which includes tomato, cucumber, feta, and hummus. Speaking of hummus, there's a terrific little Mediterranean restaurant around the corner from me called the Holy Land, where I can get a yummy hummus and falafel sandwich on soft warm chewy pita bread with a salad and spanikopita- one of my favorites. Yum. And recently, I had the most delightful sandwich at the breastfeeding task force meeting in St. Louis. It was stunning in its simplicity. It consisted of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and mushrooms on little mini sandwich buns. That's it, no cheese, it was a vegan sandwich, just veggies. I added mayo (non-vegan) and mustard to mine and it was delicious! I was amazed at how good something so simple could taste. Please feel free to send me your ideas for vegetarian/vegan lunch items I can prepare for myself or places where I could find a tasty meal (I do a lot of business lunches- so I do eat lunch out a lot, but I like to make my own lunches otherwise).
Now back to the new vegan restaurant I discovered called SEED. It's located between Union Hill and Hospital Hill, in an area undergoing rapid re-gentrification. I'm sure right now their rent is cheap because they are surrounded by industrial types buildings, and old rundown houses, but re-gentrification is slowly encroaching. Just a couple of blocks away, rows and rows of tidy new townhouses have gone up on Union Hill totally obscuring the quaint little cemetery where rests the bones of some of Kansas City's earliest settlers. You'd never know it from the list above, but my favorite class of restaurant is the independently owned restaurant, not the chains. My city happens to be home to many wonderful and unique independent restaurants and SEED (also the HOLY LAND) is one of them. It's a classic little store front eatery. You walk in and there is lovely artwork on walls painted in serene colors. The whole thing has a very calming and soothing affect. We walked up to a counter and place our order with a tall handsome young man sporting shoulder length dread locks. The restaurant is owned by a young African-American couple with a new baby. The midwife who takes me here for lunch, happens to be their homebirth midwife. Unbeknownst to me- I introduced them. You see, I routinely get calls and emails from folks looking for midwives and I just send out my list of midwives who have agreed to let me give out their info. So after our meal I get a hug from the proprietress for introducing her to her midwife. How nice! But anyway, back to the food. The menu itself first strikes me as limited and unimpressive. It is very small and basic- no Haute cuisine- just burgers, BLTs, and tacos. I think to myself, this is vegan right? But my midwife friend assures me the food is delicious. I order the veggie burger with avocado on the side. The midwife orders tacos, and her student following her for the day and lunching with us, orders the "chicken" sandwich. The sandwiches come with french fries but I also order a bowl of the soup du jour: tomato. While our food is prepared I peruse the small two room restaurant. The second room is even cozier with sofas, candles, lamps, and shelf-lined walls filled with books and for sale items. The for sale items are all "Black Power" stuff slathered in the Red, Black and Green flag, silhouettes of giant Afros, and black power fists and other 60s symbolism. One shelf is filled to the brink with old vintage black films from just before and during the blaxploitation era, another with books touting black national demagoguery. There are mugs and t-shirts and shelf after shelf of shameless commerce items devoted to the original and revised social philosophies of the Black National and Pan-African movements. Have no idea what I'm talking about? Well lets just say the whole thing was a tribute to another era in time. To top the whole thing off, there having lunch with a small group surrounding him is a local African-American community leader. He fits right in. It's like they planted him there as part of the decor. I find my way back to my table and wait for my food. The restaurant is about 3/4s full even though we arrive around 1:00 past the lunch rush. We wait a while because the midwife says everything is prepared fresh when ordered so it takes longer. When lunch does arrive, its worth the wait. My veggie burger is superb nestled between a sprouted wheat bun with caramelized (rather than mearly grilled) onions. I add my slices of avocado, which by the way are perfect, no small feat here in the Midwest where avocados are definitely not in season. The fries are nice thick steak fry cut, generously peppered, but not an excessive amount like most restaurants do, and non-reasy. They are obviously baked and not fried. The taste is pure heaven. I can't believe a veggie burger can taste so good. I also enjoyed my bowl of hot thick tomato soup. Midwife orders a large pear/pecan salad for us all to sample. I put some on a plate and slather it in their homemade poppyseed dressing. I take a bite. Again I'm amazed. How can something so simple taste so good. The greens are organic mixed baby greens (very high quality) with chunks of soft (firm not mushy) sweet pear and pecans )whole and half pieces) strewn across them. That's it. I can hardly stop eating it, its so good. I finish my small plate of it from first bite to last before I resume my burger consumption. My mouth is rejoicing, everything I taste is some small masterpiece. I want more. I order from the ample offerings of their smoothies. I get the Almond Joy- a mix of chocolate, coconut milk, and almonds. Its the perfect ending to round out a near perfect meal- not too sweet- which smoothies can tend to be. Shamelessly, when the midwife asks if I want to taste her tacos, I take half of one, because I really do want to try everything on the menu! The taco 'meat' is nestled inside an organic blue corn taco shell topped with lettuce, tomato, vegan cheese, and avocado. Vegan sour cream and salsa are served on the side. It was delicious. The obviously nonvegan student declared her 'chicken' sandwich to taste 'just like chicken' and I note that it appears to be served on a homemade oversized biscuit rather than a bun. The place, the food, the owners, the ambiance, all a delicious little treat for the palate and the soul. I can hardly wait to go back...soon.