Veggie Grill: Day One. Everyone's ready to sample 4 different vegan burgers, right?
While I could sit here for hours and slowly being to photo document my December-long travels in Southeast Asia, deciding the next day’s destination on a whim, sleeping in a bamboo hut alongside a river, attempting to rock a saree at a Sindhi wedding, watching the sunset from the steps of ancient ruins, or the young coconut curry that changed my life, and so on…well, I’m almost ready. First, however, comes the story of my satisfying weekend in Los Angeles.
No holds barred, here’s the gist: mere days ago, I was one of a few lucky-ass Portland bloggers flown down to LA (what!) for lunch tastings at Veggie Grill. I’ve been twice before, in West Hollywood and Irvine, and was a fan, and frankly, I thought the email I half-read while waking up in Thailand sounded too good to be true: Meet & Greets with founders? Cocktail hour with the CEO? Special lunch tastings and previews of upcoming menu items? Traveling with friends? Were they taking vegan bloggers seriously? Would we take ourselves too seriously?
The departure for the overnight whirlwind was less than a week after my arrival back home, and my jet lag was only just fading, but I was in.
Again, the day was incredibly satisfying. It began with an early morning flight and quickly moved onto an extensive lunch tasting of the classic Veggie Grill menu items, while meeting with the co-founders, a visit to The Getty, haute cocktails with the CEO at The Bazaar, and later on, our off-site dinner at Mao’s before collapsing in bed watching Chelsea Lately.
I’ll be sharing more from our second day, including new menu items, and any news about the Portland area locations that comes my way soon, as well as in-depth thoughts on the food itself over at Stumptown Vegans with Webly.
As for the first restaurant opening in the Northwest (which includes Beaverton, Portland and Seattle), expect the Beaverton Veggie Grill to open its doors the last week of January, followed by downtown Portland later this Spring.
The following are photos from the day, in order. You can download the current menu on their website.
It all started with our ride for the weekend, Lonnie, as joined by Janessa:
Cookies in the car for breakfast!
Uptown Nachos. We were treated to plates of these as lunch starters on both days, and I am not complaining.
Buffalo Wings [Gardein] and Ranch with celery
All Hail Kale Salad with roasted corn salsa and agave-roasted walnuts
New favorite breakfast = leftover kale salad!
Refreshment break: Iced Pomegranate Green Tea
The burgers begin…
El Dorado Style VG-Cheeseburger
Sweetheart Fries and my beloved Chipotle Ranch
Quinoa Mac-N-Cheese with Garlic Breadcrumbs [Daiya-based]
You may think we were done sampling, but as the lovely Janessa showcases, we had more to come…
A few bites of dessert, perhaps?
Carrot Cake, Chocolate Tofu Pudding & Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookie
“That cookie is just asking to be dipped in pudding” – Julia
It’s rare that my photo will included, but you guys….Janessa took a pudding photo series, and I wanted to share my favorite.
The end! Of Saturday’s lunch tasting, that is.
Smiling bloggers & The Veggie Grill Founders & CEO
Ordering is counter-style at all Veggie Grills
Even as co-founder, Kevin’s cravings are relentless….
After our first lunch tasting on Saturday, we headed off to The Getty for some wandering.
Not to mention a lot of close calls on these extended steps -
Cruising down Rodeo Drive may not have been a dream come true, but I like to think we were filming the opening sequence for some awful reality show that will never make it on air. I am not signing a release.
Later on, we digested and went for a cocktail hour at The Bazaar at the SLS.
I ordered the “New Way” Dirty Martini with Belvedere, on the right. Naturally, I could not pass up the chance for a burst of olive spherification and foamy olive brine air. I mean, come on.
Our group also experienced two table-side liquid nitrogen creations, including Michele’s Caipirinha and Webly’s Shirley Temple, pictured below. This series simply reminds me that I’m back from vacation and a new camera is totally on my back-to-life for a bit wish list.
This may have been the least dramatic of the hotel bathrooms used over the weekend, and yet I wondered such things as…just where will the water go in these sinks? Can people see through these stalls?
Hours later, with cocktails (and mocktails) sipped, we headed to Mao’s Kitchen for dinner. When Michele recommends a restaurant in LA, let alone a vegan-friendly Chinese restaurant, I’m in.
Fried noodles and sweet dipping sauce
Janessa and I split an order of the People’s Potstickers to start, filled with black & woodear mushrooms, smoked tofu and minced bok choy.
Next up to our table was a Peasants’ Onion Pancake. Not my type of dish due to our enemy status, but the ladies seemed to enjoy it.
Our crispy Beijing Spring Roll was $1. Enough said.
Tofu Fried Rice
Long-life Beans with Tofu
Hong Kong Chow Mein
HOLY CRAP, ROAMING, COULD-BE-FAMOUS, CARTOONISH FOOD CART ALERT!!!!1!!11!!
Day Two is up next. Go fawn over the menu some more til then.
Disclaimer: All lunch dishes were provided for by Veggie Grill, of which I have no contractual affiliation. I simply really enjoyed this outrageously fun weekend.