Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Train Trip 2013 - Eating and Drinking Our Way Around the U.S.

Andrew and I enjoy good quality food. Being vegetarian sometimes makes it harder to find restaurants that take as much care with their meatless features as they do with their meat-based dishes. Or that have meatless dishes at all!

We also love a good coffee shop -- where not only the coffee and tea are hot and tasty but where we can relax and veg for a bit . . . read our books and catch up on email and blog posts in comfort.

Instead of writing about food and drink in numerous blog posts as we went along, I decided to do one post with a compilation of places we thought were notable.
Fourth & James - Triple Berry Scone

Lumsden, Saskatchewan

This was the first time we'd ever stopped in Lumsden! Andrew's sister, Penny, had found the website for Fourth & James Bakery so we thought we'd give it a try. Andrew really liked his Americano, my hot chocolate was made with real chocolate milk, and the light & fluffy triple berry scones were chock full of berries and had a crisp sugary topping. We stopped here on the way home as well and will definitely make this a regular stop on any trips south.

Seattle, Washington

Zeitgeist Coffee -- funky place one block from the train station.

Fonté Café and Wine Bar -- quiet classy place just a block from the craziness of Pike Place Market. Coffee/tea, food & wine.

RN74 -- trendy, popular with the after work crowd (i.e. noisy!).  We had a great evening meal and tried the tomato soup cheese fondue appetizer as it was highly recommended in the Yelp reviews. Yum, yum! Also, flawless service from the wait staff!
Tomato Soup Cheese Fondue (note the cheese inside the bread) at RN74
Tilikum Place Cafe -- Cozy place on a cool day. Very close to the Space Needle and Experience Music Project. Had an excellent lentil soup and biscuit sandwich with egg and mushrooms.

DeLaurenti Specialty Food and Wine -- This is the type of store I could spend much time in! Saturday afternoon we stopped in for a wine & cheese tasting. Four of each for only a $2 cover charge.

Pike Place Market -- A blog post about Seattle food would just not be the same without mentioning the famous market!
Humorous bag at one of the fruit stands at Pike Place Market
The Coterie Room -- Voted one of Seattle's best restaurants, we had an excellent meal here!

Monterey, California

Tilley Gort's Cafe - Vegetarian and organic! Great food and extremely fast service. Normally I wouldn't complain about fast service but this was almost too fast for a nice relaxing supper. Some wild artwork on the walls.

Vegetables on Fire! 
Psychedelic fish

Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Co. - We went to their Pacific Grove location.

Bistro Moulin - Quiet little place for a nice evening meal. I'm usually not much of a gnocchi fan but the spinach gnocchi was much talked about on Yelp and definitely lived up to the rave reviews! The sauce was soooo yummy!
Appetizer sized spinach gnocchi
Salinas, California 

Olivia's Cafe - Authentic Mexican restaurant. Nothing fancy but had a huge, delicious and inexpensive burrito with the freshest tortilla I've had in a long time! Extremely convenient (1/2 block) to the train station.

Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara Coffee Roasting Company -- we like to support the local coffee shops when we can. This one had quite an eclectic clientele -- they seemed to be homeless/panhandler friendly. And they served an excellent spiced chai latte that they brew themselves.

Anchor Woodfire Kitchen and Bar -- in same building at Indigo Hotel. Newly opened and excellent enough food that we ate there two nights in a row.

Tucson, Arizona

The Tasteful Kitchen -- Not a single meat dish on the menu! So many vegetarian items we had a hard time choosing what to eat! Finally, a lovely evening dining place that is fully vegetarian. Unfortunately, they didn't serve wine but you could bring your own.

Alpine, Texas

Plaine Coffee -- Good coffee, free wifi, a comfy couch and funky artwork!
Semi-crash -- note the driver has already gone to heaven in the top right hand corner of the painting.
Reata -- Honestly, we didn't expect much in Alpine. But Reata's locations in both Fort Worth and Alpine are well known fine dining establishments in Texas. The chocolate bread pudding, steamed in a tamale, served with dulce de leche ice cream with dulce de leche and chocolate sauces drizzled over top was definitely one of the top desserts of the trip!! The ice cream was from a local supplier who makes the dulce de leche flavour specifically for Reata.
Chocolate Bread Pudding at Reata
New Orleans, Louisiana

A New Orleans classic!
Houston's -- This wasn't our first choice but, after a long day spent at the zoo, it was about the only thing close to our hotel that offered much in the way of vegetarian. We were VERY pleasantly surprised by the vegetarian platter which featured several different veg dishes that were full of great flavours.

Cafe du Monde -- Is it possible to go to New Orleans and not have a beignet?

Cafe Amelie -- Lovely garden courtyard (unfortunately too cold to sit in it!). A couple good vegetarian options.

Jacksonville, Florida

La Cena Ristaurante and Wine Bar -- This place got great reviews on Yelp as one of the few fine dining places in downtown Jacksonville. The menu was a bit bizarre and hard to follow (various prices for three different sizes of offerings but you had to flip back & forth between pages to try to figure it all out.) However, the in-house made pasta was absolutely superb, was served piping hot, and deserved the very high ratings!

Savannah, Georgia

Moon River Brewing Company -- Fairly typical pub fare (good veggie burger & sweet potato fries) but I mention it here because of the very good and unique local brew we tried. "Wild Wacky Wit -- Old-style Belgian Wheat Ale (ABV 4.1%) Spiced with spiced Curacao bitter orange peel and Coriander. Light and exotic . . . A party in your mouth. "

Gallery Espresso -- "The oldest coffeehouse in Savannah." Funky place, yummy egg croissants for breakfast.

Sapphire Grill -- Very likely our favourite dining place of the whole trip! Excellent 3-course vegetarian tasting menu that consisted of whatever the chef felt like making or had on hand. It was delicious, as was the chocolate torte. The waitress, Christine, was also extremely good at her job and suggested a couple other good vegetarian restaurants that we'll have to try next time -- Kayak Kafe and The Sentient Bean. 

Charleston, South Carolina

O'Hara & Flynn Wine Bar -- A tiny little place with shelves of wine bottles from floor to ceiling on each of the side walls, an old wooden bar at the far end and antique tables and chairs crowded in the middle. The friendly owner is from Germany and bought this place as a retirement project 10 years ago. Love the atmosphere! Great apple, brie, walnut & honey appetizer plate!

Sermet's -- Nice restaurant downstairs with The Mezz Jazz Bar upstairs. Great eggplant parmesan. Tiramisu for dessert. Yum, yum.

Sampler plate of gelato at Charleston Grill (blueberry,
raspberry, lemon, pear, coconut)
Charleston Grill -- Fine dining in the Charleston Place Hotel. We don't normally associate restaurants with the word "grill" in them as having good vegetarian options but this one did. Albeit rather expensive but very classy place with extremely good wait staff.

City Lights Coffee -- Another funky little place with quirky customers, good coffee, fresh bagels and scones.

Charlottesville, Virginia

Ebelskivers (also spelled aebleskivers)
Inn at 400 West High -- The bed & breakfast we stayed at served the most amazing breakfasts!!! Yogurt, fruit & granola cup, muffins and orange juice along with a different hot breakfast dish each morning -- baked eggs & salsa, buttermilk cinnamon waffles, and ebelskivers (a dutch pancake) filled with apple butter. Made in a special pan.

Zocolo -- Amazing cheese fritters!

The Shebeen -- Two very delicious entrees -- peanut vegetable stew and polenta "sadza" cakes".

Hamiltons at First and Main -- The vegetarian blue plate special, featuring 5 veg dishes was very flavourful!

Virginia makes very good wines! The Charlottesville area is known for the Monticello Wine Trail and also has several micro-breweries in the area. We visited Blenheim VineyardsKeswick VineyardsBarboursville VineyardsWintergreen Winery and Devils Backbone Brewery.

Baltimore, Maryland

Lamill Coffee -- in the Four Season Hotel -- good coffee & tea, yummy cookies and pastries, comfy seats, and great view of the harbour.

Watertable - A restaurant that supports local and organic, has several vegetarian choices, and another great view of the harbour!

Chicago, Illinois

Terzo Piano -- In the Art Institute of Chicago. A relatively quiet place to have a nice lunch when the restaurant we'd planned on going to was totally packed and had a lineup out the door. Bright white decor and a view towards Lake Michigan.

Flight of the Sangria -- Blanco (apple, pear, clove),
Rose (cranberry, orange, cinnamon), Tinto (cassis, sage, allspice)
Mercat a la Planxa -- A great tapas restaurant. Seriously, what can be better than flights of sangria???

Starbucks -- Normally I wouldn't include Starbucks in this list but this one served wine! It's in a 2-storey location; main floor is a regular looking Starbucks. Upstairs has a second coffee/wine bar area that also serves small appetizer plates and is filled with big comfy chairs (but still lots of places to plug in laptops). Great recycled decor as well.

Trattoria No. 10 -- A fabulous Italian restaurant that lives up to the reputation of great Chicago restaurants. Probably the best butternut squash ravioli I have ever had! And the profiteroles with chocolate and caramel gelato, smothered in chocolate sauce, wasn't bad either. :-)  Trattoria No. 10 is a member of the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition.

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