Last night was such a fun night! I had dinner at San Chez Bistro with three other lady bloggers from Michigan. While their successes make my tiny blog seem rather…quaint…I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to our next meeting. Not only that, I enjoyed a wonderful meal from the vegan menu at San Chez. Believe it or not, they actually have ELEVEN allergy menus! This has to be the most thoughtful restaurant ever. It’s a great idea for customers, and a wise move for restaurateurs.
Now, to be honest, I had dinner at San Chez back in June with a group of friends from the Parish Life Conference, and I never got around to writing about it. I wanted the flavors to be fresh in my mind, so I ordered a nearly identical meal last night – except last night, I found out about the vegan dessert! It’s not on the vegan menu, but it’s right at the top of the dessert menu and clearly marked Vegan. Did I tell you this place is great?
I started off with Gazpacho, pretty straight forward – chilled tomato cucumber soup. The soup is blended superbly to give it a velvety-smooth texture, and although you can taste the individual ingredients, they still come together perfectly.
Next was the bread course. Vegans have two options, and I went with the Pan a la Plancha, a grilled whole wheat bread slice with tomato garlic spread, dripping with golden olive oil. I enjoyed this so much back in June, I ordered it again last night but got two pieces instead of one. I probably should have tried at least one piece with the salsa verde option, but I just really wanted more of that tomato garlic spread! You could seriously make a meal of this and the soup, but why stop there?
For my first “small” plate (it’s actually a pretty good size for a small plate), I tried the Verduras y Tortas, black bean and quinoa cakes served over roasted vegetable with an avo-ziki sauce (a veganized tzatziki). Now, I’m not a huge fan of the sauce on its own, but it is magically transformed when you dip a piece of the black bean cake, or a veggie, in it. Not only does it taste wonderful, it’s such a visually appealing dish.
The Tostones Fritos – fried plantains – could *almost* pass for a dessert, or would be great for breakfast. They’re served with an avocado relish, and vegans can enjoy the dish with jalapeno agave instead of honey. They reminded me of upscale pancakes, and I do love pancakes.
Last but not least, last night our very helpful waitress pointed out the lone vegan item on the dessert menu, which I missed last time because I’d only looked at the vegan menu (the dessert menu is separate for everyone, not just vegans). And lucky for us, it’s really like two desserts in one – Pistachio Rice Pudding with Medjool Date Ice Cream, and a chili quince glaze.
First I tried just the pistachio rice pudding. You know, when you’re a kid pistachio pudding is the least favorite. The only cool thing about it is the weird, bright green color. But now that I am sort of somewhat of a grown up, at least in the eyes of the law, I am finally able to appreciate its subtly sweet flavor. The rice is extra sticky and firm, so it’s like a very soft rice cake. But if you prefer a little more sweetness in your desserts, do not fear! Simply run the pudding through a bit of that glaze before you take a bite. And don’t forget the medjool date ice cream! I could eat a whole bowl of that.
One tip, though: Do NOT eat the little lemon peel garnishes by themselves! They are so dang salty, but somehow perfectly complement the ice cream IF you eat them WITH the ice cream. How did the chef know this would all work together so well?
Needless to say, I was stuffed by the end of evening. I hope to get back to San Chez soon so I can try the rest of the items on the vegan menu, and maybe a few cocktails (strictly for work-related purposes, of course). Not only is the food great, and plated beautifully, I love the feel of the restaurant – the simple little tables with brown craft paper draped over them, perfect for scribbling a note, and brightly colored decor. And everyone we dealt with on the waitstaff was so friendly and polite.
You can check out the Allergy Menus at San Chez here.