Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vegetarian reviewed in Portland, ME (and beyond)

The fermented black bean and tofu noodle bowl at the A1 Diner.

Two years ago when I agreed to join a pool of writers contributing restaurant reviews to The Maine Switch magazine, I knew I had a unique task. Like the other writers, I'd need to tease out story after story in the ordinary act of eating a meal and convey these tales to a mainstream audience. But unlike my fellow scribes dining in service of Switch, I'd be eating (and writing) from the vegetarian part of the plate.

A take-out Greek pizza without cheese from Bonobo.

Since then I've written about a number of local restaurants where a vegan can get a decent meal and an omnivore has plenty of options. I (almost) never forget to sample from the bar.

During these past two years, plant-based foods and meals have continued to blossom here in Portland. In 2007, The Green Elephant opened, giving the city it's first upscale, all-vegetarian dinner spot. That same year a pair of former restaurant owners began making the vegan Blue Mango Veggie burgers (which show up on many of the pub menus around town) and Sarah Conroy started the Maine Vegan Meet-Up group. Last year the owner of The Kitchen closed up shop in order to produce his popular Papou's Kitchen falafels for local stores and restaurants.

From soup shops to white tablecloth establishments, more and more vegan items are showing up on Portland menus. At Thai and Pan-Asian eateries, I've noticed many menus listing vegan white sauce as an alternative to garlic sauce. And this July 18 the city's 5th annual Vegetarian Food Festival takes place at the East End Community School.

It's definitely been an exciting time to contribute a vegetarian voice to the lively food discourse that takes place in Portland. Along the way I've hooked readers up with date night ideas, disturbed others with my fondness for cheese-free pizza (see above), learned how to properly appreciate martinis (in moderation) and developed a deep attachment to the Castelvetrano olives served at Novare Res Bier Bar.

Here are those gorgeous olives from Novare.

A garden salad and hummus plate at White Heart.

So in honor of Switch's two-year anniversary, I give you a round-up of my vegetarian restaurant reviews. I hope to write many more.

Novare Res Bier Cafe, Portland, February 4, 2009
¡Burrito!, Westbrook, December 22, 2008
Hot Suppa!
, Portland, November 12, 2008
Portland Pie Company, Portland, September 30, 2008
Emilitsa, Portland, September 2, 2008
Flatbread Company, Portland, August 5, 2008
A1 Diner, Gardiner, June 17, 2008
Mesa Verde, Portland, April 23, 2008
David's, Portland, March 26, 2008
Katahdin, Portland, February 27, 2008
Pom's Thai Taste, Portland, January 30, 2008
Silly's, Portland, January 9, 2008
Bintliff's, Portland, December 20, 2007
Blue Spoon, Portland, October 2, 2007
Caiola's, Portland, September 11, 2007
Bonobo, Portland, August 14, 2007
Cockeyed Gull, Peaks Island, July 24, 2007
The Good Egg Cafe, Portland, July 3, 2007
The White Heart, Portland, June 12, 2007
Artemisia, Portland, May 22, 2007


Mary said...

I love the Castelvetrano olives at Novare Res! I just tried them for the first time a week or so ago, and posted a review on my site. I gave them 3 out of 4 chickpeas-- pretty good! I'm seeing more interest in vegetarian food up here in Bangor, as well. I'll have to check out your restaurant reviews. They'll be helpful next time I'm down south.

Anonymous said...

Beware, the crackers that come with the hummus plate at the White Heart aren't vegan, I asked once. You can get extra bread instead.

Meg Wolff said...

OMG! You can get that at the A1 Diner, you are a great resource!

I have a friend that's always talking about Pom's. I'll have to try it sometime. Thanks, Avery.

Mary said...

Hi Avery. I just posted a review of vegan options at Flatbread on my blog and linked to the one you wrote for Switch. It's a popular place!

TomOfMaine said...

Hi Avery, a hearty greetings from Bangor, this is Tom from the Bangor Veg Network, thanks so much for all the great reviews, we'll look forward to many more in the coming years !