When somebody hands me the responsibility to come up with a restaurant suggestion, I become determined to find the best place possible for that person. I feel that it is my duty as a food lover. So when my mom asked me to find a good restaurant for our Friday night dinner, I attacked Yelp full force until I found "the one."
Choosing the setting
Evanston has a reputation for being a mecca for wealthy people who wear Teva sandals, love their dogs and care very much about the whole-ness of their food. Which is why it made it the perfect place to take my pseudo-vegetarian mom. It is the setting of the well-known (amongst the vegetarian crowd) Blind Faith Cafe. Coined as "Innovative Vegetarian Cuisine," Blind Faith has been around for more than 30 years and lives in the heart of Downtown Evanston.
When we arrived, my mom was pleased to see outdoor seating dotted along the sidewalk and immediately pounced on the chance to sit at one of the small round tables. Mom said she was ready for a drink, but was dissapointed when she couldn't find it on the menu. A smile spread across her face when I handed her a long drink menu, packed with fresh fruity cocktails, organic wines and local brews. We landed on the White Sangria with fresh peaches, macerated into the cool white wine.
Choosing our course
Any vegetarian knows what it's like to go to a restaurant and have a measly pick of choices – usually consisting of cheese and tomatoes, cheese and pasta, or cheese on bread (as you can imagine, this doesn't serve a vegan or a lactose-intolerant well). Therefore, a vegetarian menu is akin to wearing glasses for the first time – seeing choices that you never knew to be available.
From a macrobiotic medley, to tofu laden in coconut-ginger goodness, we had quite a hard time deciding what we wanted. My mom finally landed on Seitan Marsala and (after two mind-changes with our very patient waitress) I went for the Bibim Bop Rice Bowl.
Both dishes were brought out to us promptly and served with a smile. Mine consisted of savory, flavorsome seitan atop a bed of perfectly-cooked jasmine rice alongside cucumbers, scallions and carrots. The cherry on top was the over-easy egg, which when pierced, oozed bright yellow yolk over my entire dish.
Never a fan of pickled anything, I was a bit turned off when my marinated vegetables were soaked in a vinegary-like dressing rather than a teriaki-like sauce to compliment my savory seitan. Oddly enough, I liked it. I have such admiration for exploring strange combinations within a dish and making it work. I, myself, continually fail at this task in my own kitchen.
Overall, I was impressed. But more importantly, mom was. She indulged in her juicy green beans and creamy squash and sweet potato mash, sipped through two white sangrias until her plate was clean and it was time for dessert.
The sweet stuff
My mom is a textbook chocoholic and an overall lover of all things sweet. Ordering dessert when out with mom is not a discussion; it's a given. As much as the tiramisu and three types of chocolate cake got her excited, it was the Creme Brûlée that really caught her attention. Simple as it looked, the creamy toffee-shelled dessert had a tasty surprise – coconut shavings were incorporated into the mix for an entirely new Brûlée experience.
I also had no problem choosing my poison. As soon as I saw "Peanut Butter" on the menu, I knew that there would be no choice-changing this time around. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake was a sizable chunk of creamy, nutty and hit-the-spot goodness that satisfied a craving that I very rarely indulge in (I don't allow peanut butter in the house for fear of eating the entire jar).
Mom and I left full, slightly tipsy (her, not me) and incredibly satisfied. Being the customers of many a vegan restaurant, we've seen our fair share of interesting twists on meatless dishes. But we were proud to say that Blind Faith earned a spot near the top of our list. Second only to The Red Avocado – a restaurant in my college town of Iowa City that stole our heart five years back when I forayed into veganism.
An important note: I was at one time vegan, but I have been a meat-eater for some time now. However, a full plate of fresh vegetables prepared in creative, well-thought-out ways is always worth trying for me. To me, vegan food is a chance to be indulgent without the guilt (for the most part).
**Blind Faith: 4 stars**
Per request by Monica Fresas (a loyal follower) here are the dessert pics: