Sunday, June 08, 2008
Greetings from Kansas City! I have had a serious internet and blogging withdrawal for the last week. As Daiku and I were visiting my family in northern Virginia and then his family in St. Louis, blogging and blog-hopping were not always doable. But now I'm in Kansas City, in a hotel with wi-fi, and loads of free time on my hands, so expect to hear a lot from me this week as I go back in time to catch you guys up! In this post, I have a restaurant review, a product review, and even a bloggy meet-up, so hopefully it will make up for my recent absence.
First up, a review of Strong Hearts Cafe, the newest addition to Syracuse's vegan dining scene. We all anticipated its late May opening date, and Bridget, Trac, Daiku and I went there for lunch the day after it opened. We all understandably had high expectations- it's not every day that a 100% vegan restaurant opens in our back yard!
The food menu (you can click on the above photo to enlarge it) promised to be exciting, but I was there for one thing and one thing only - milkshakes! When is the last time you had a vegan milkshake? Too long for me! Strong Hearts has an extensive milkshake menu, each named after a particular hero.
After much hand-wringing and deliberation, I decided on the Malcolm X- a chocolate and cherry concoction. As you can see, it was huge! And very delicious.
Unfortunately, I was the only one in our group who was fully satisfied. A lot of menu items were not available. Here's Trac's chickpea salad sandwich. She thought it tasted ok, but better presentation (say some garnish, a pickle, or some chips to liven up the plate) would have improved it.
Service was also really slow. Bridget was on her lunch break, and did not expect to have to wait over 30 minutes for her order. When they arrived, she reported that her BLT and pasta salad could have used a lot more flavor.
Daiku agreed about his BLT- in fact, this entire sandwich only had one strip of bacon inside!
But, I didn't want to leave it at this. This cafe has so much promise, that we all agreed that the food and service must have had an off day, because some wrinkles needed to be ironed out so close to the grand opening. I promised myself I would go back to give Strong Hearts a second chance.
That second chance came a week later with a wonderful opportunity. The lovely Vegetalion was visiting Upstate NY and we got to plan a meet-up in Syracuse! Naturally, we decided to go to Strong Hearts. Here she is with her milkshake- a chocolate peanut butter concoction (I forgot which hero it was named after, though! John Brown?)
And here I am with my "Tiananmen Square Guy" (green tea) milkshake. We both loved our shakes.
The food was a vast improvement, too! Here is Vegetalion's chickpea salad sandwich- served on more substantial bread and with more filling this time.
And here's my chicken caesar salad. The vegan chicken strips were quite tasty, better than a lot of meat served at other vegetarian restaurants. And the dressing, a tangy Asian twist on caesar dressing, was heavenly. It was also such a blast to meet up with Vegetalion and get to know the person behind the blog!
Yay for happy endings! I love that Strong Hearts exists just a short bike ride from my home, and I can't wait to go back and try their breakfast menu. The owners are also extremely nice and responsive. I wrote them with an ingredient question and they wrote back quickly and answered my questions. This is the type of place that I am very happy to support. Their milkshakes drew me in, and I will not rest until I've tried all the flavors! (that could take a while- see for yourself by checking out their menu!)
Strong Hearts Cafe
719 E Genesee Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
Phone: (315) 478 - 0000
Fax: (315) 478-0001
Next, a product review. Like a lot of you in blogland, I recently received a shipment of ProBars to sample. Daiku and I were excited to see this beautiful assortment of whole food bars- no soy protein isolate in these! We got to taste 5 flavors: maple pecan, cocoa pistachio, kettle corn, cherry pretzel, and sesame goji.
Here is a close-up of the cherry pretzel flavor- notice the big chunks of pretzel, the cherries, and all the sesame and flax seeds! I love eating a power bar whose ingredients are so easily discernible. These all tasted good, but the kettle corn was our hands down favorite. My only concern with ProBars is that they pack in a hefty amount of calories- over 400 a bar. While they are substantial, I think that they would be ideal for high-level athletes or those looking for a meal replacement rather than a snack. Daiku and I split all of them. I should note however, that all those calories are nutrient-dense and healthy, so I really can't complain all that much!
Finally, an update. You may remember my previous post where I wrote about that large group of rescued rats who needed homes. Well, I'm thrilled to report that a fellow Syracuse blogger, Rachael, and her partner, adopted 3 of them! Click on her blog post to see photos of these adorable little guys! You rock, Rachael.
It's good to be back on-line- hope to post more and pay all of you visits very soon!