Happy weekend! I had a very relaxing day off yesterday that started with leisurely drinking coffee and catching up on news in our office in the morning instead of rushing through my emails before getting ready for work. And I had three office buddies keeping me company.
I spent the rest of the day getting some tasks done, like laundry and kitchen cleaning, but also watching TV and playing games. By the evening, hubby and I headed into Sacramento to pick up race packets from Fleet Feet for the Urban Cow half marathon (yikes, that’s tomorrow!). Yesterday was also the start of Sacramento’s Vegan Chef Challenge, a fun month where restaurants in the area are challenged to create vegan dishes for a voting competition. You can see a list of submitted menus here and chef information here. Unfortunately, my schedule or budget won’t let me cram all the restaurants in this month, but I can try to get as many in as possible.
We started with The Porch last night because it’s a classy southern themed restaurant and when I think of southern cooking, I think of Paula Deen, 47 sticks of butter in everything, deep fried multiple times, BBQ, BBQ, and more BBQ, and perfectly good veggies overcooked with bacon fat. So I was very curious about chef Jon Clemons’ vegan creations.
The interior of the restaurant was delicately southern themed with a clean, modern twist.
The vegan menu had an impressive list of options and since hubby was on board with trying the vegan options with me, we got to sample just about everything.
We started with the eggplant fries that included a cajun Veganaise
The fries were tangy and crispy with a fun, spicy flare from the sauce. While the fried coating on the fries added a crunchy outer shell, the eggplant was still very soft. Only minor gripe was the skins on the eggplant weren’t easy to chew through and often came off in one piece being a little messy, but that’s eggplant and I’d rather the skins be left on instead of removed.
The next dish was pecan grilled tomatoes on a bed of grits and green chili sauce with beautiful presentation.
The tomatoes had a great texture with a crunchy outside and warm gooey inside that was slightly sweet. And the moist and spicy grits complemented them nicely.
We also ordered the black-eyed pea burger served with a potato bun, more Cajun Vegenaise sauce, avocado, and a kicky mango slaw.
It was a huge burger.
With a nice texture of pureed and whole black-eyed peas in the patty and a crunchy outer shell.
The Cajun flavors and creamy sauces really made this burger, I overall liked the texture, but hubby thought the patty could be a little thinner and crispier.
We did save room to try one of the desserts at the end – the banana coconut pudding jar with vanilla wafers.
This was fabulous for a house made pudding and the vanilla wafer sticks tasted house made too – nothing like the cheap store bought ones, they had more of an airy, crispy texture, with a slightly spicy vanilla flavor – very nice. And the pudding was a rich coconut pudding smothering chunks of ripe banana topped with fresh strawberries and vegan cream. What a treat! I haven’t had a dessert like this in ages making it even more enjoyable.
Overall a great dining experience with a fun and creative vegan twist on southern food. If you’re in the Sacramento area, get out and try some of these restaurants!