Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Birthday Dinner at Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro & Bar

One of the many reasons that Chris and I relocated to New Hampshire was to be closer to my family. Other reasons included, but were not limited to, having actual seasons, more affordable homes, and less population density. We were worried, though, about leaving Austin's amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurants behind.

Last month, the two of us stopped by Green Elephant in Portsmouth, NH for dinner after a day at the beach. We had an absolutely wonderful meal full of flavor and atmosphere. So, when my family inquired as to what we should do for my birthday, I could not resist the temptation to return.

The bistro and bar has an extensive wine, beer, and cocktails menu. Chris's family celebrates birthdays with "birthday drinks," so I felt obliged to order one for the occasion. I tried the restaurant's signature cocktail, the Green Elephant. It combined vodka, coconut water, lime juice, and Thai basil. I enjoyed it immensely! In fact, it brought me to such a happy place that the rest of my meal was akin to a spiritual experience.

Appetizers were in order! We sampled the King Oyster Tempura Mushrooms and Crispy Wontons. The mushrooms were just DIVINE. For someone who adores mushrooms, I had never had the oyster variety. It was just like eating fried scallops. Yum, yum, yum!

The wontons I didn't particularly care for but could see how many individuals would like them. The filling was vegan cream cheese and spinach. The dipping sauce was kind of a sweet pepper chili sauce. I enjoyed the crisp dough but did not care for the combination of creamy spinach and sweet chili sauce. But my wife liked them a lot.

I just couldn't get enough of these mushrooms.

Now, for the main courses....

I chose the Tofu Tikki Masala. The curry soup contained chewy bits of crisp on the outside tofu, firm chickpeas, creamy edamame, wilted spinach, and a whole lot more. The base was perfectly spiced (I ordered spice level 1), extremely creamy, and just absolutely wonderful to consume. As a side, what seemed to be a smoked fried rice. The two together seemed like an odd combination at first, but I savored every last bite of that smoked rice.

Chris ordered the Pad Thai, made vegan by eliminating the egg. According to her experience, it was nicely spiced for her (she ordered spice level 4). She felt it was "well balanced," tasting like Pad Thai should...

My mother ordered the Veggie Citrus Spare Ribs. She described it as having the perfect mix of citrus and spice. The soy filet was tender. Her favorite part was that each vegetable was trimmed to the perfect bite size.

Although I'm not sure how they felt about their meals, the other two members of our party seemed to enjoy their meals, too. This is my brother's review.

I believe he ordered the Char Guay Teow.

Although I wasn't expecting anything less than wonderful, I remember sitting in my seat over my pretty copper dish, sipping my spicy soup with thoughts of such appreciation. "Wow," had been a word I thought quite a bit. I had a surprisingly emotional experience (though the cocktail may have had a lot to do with it).

Find them at 35 Portwalk Place in Portsmouth, NH. For questions or directions, call 603-427-8344. They are currently open Sunday through Wednesday from 11:30AM to 9:30PM and Thursday through Saturday from 11:30AM to 10:00PM. Another location can be found in Portland, ME.

If parking is hard to find, consider parking in the free lot across from the Masonic Temple on the corner of Middle St. and Miller Ave.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

B. Good Nashua, NH

Toasted Almond and Ginger Bowl
A lot has happened in the three weeks since my last post. For starters, I am now gainfully employed! I have been working steadily since May 16th, learning the ins and outs of my new job. After a 4-day weekend, I'll be receiving training in a new area. I'm eager to learn new skills and to become a valued member of my new team.

In addition to getting acclimated to my newest surroundings, much of our time has been devoted to family events. My paternal grandmother had her 80th birthday. I was able to see cousins and other relatives I haven't seen in years. We've spent as much time as possible with my brother and his newly growing family as well. And yesterday was one of my cousin's bridal shower. A lot of stuff happening, to say the least.

Amidst all of this excitement, Chris and I have managed to find a new favorite eatery in Nashua, New Hampshire. Many, many months ago, I began lurking on Instagram and found a lot of vegans posting pictures from this place called
b. good. It seemed to be a cool place with a neat philosophy so after we brought home a couple of ticks after our trip to Odiorne Point we went to EMS in Nashua and made a stop to eat beforehand.
Our first experience at b. good was unfortunately NOT GOOD. While the food tasted great it took over 30 minutes to come out and all we got were veggie burgers! It seemed like only one cook was on staff at the time, but still. For a restaurant that prides itself on serving healthy food FAST they didn't live up to our expectations on the FAST part.

So, the burger patty itself. I liked it. You'll notice in the photo that it's made with rice, beans, and veggies. It has a bit of a spicy kick to it. One or two times a piece would be squashed out from within the confines of the bun and land on my plate, but that didn't affect my experience a whole lot. The whole wheat bun wasn't so wheaty that it overpowered the flavor of everything else (often a problem with whole wheat). And the avocado was super ripe and nutty and just lovely. Also pictured are their fries. They are on the softer side rather than crisp but I quite enjoyed them.

Veggie Burger

And despite the wait I had a very positive first impression of the establishment. The staff are knowledgeable about the ingredients. But if they don't know the answer to your question, a hardcover book with a bible full of ingredients lists sets right there at the register for everyone to read. You can find the same information on their website. That is downright stellar, especially for a person with ethical or allergy restrictions. I opted to go a little ordinary that day by only topping my burger with avocado. Chris, meanwhile, had it made Buffalo style complete with carrot slaw and tangy sauce. All vegan.

Spicy Avocado and Lime Bowl
Today, the two of us ventured into Nashua just for funsies! The weather put a damper (literally) on our plans to hike a trail or two, so we had lunch at b. good before spending some time at Barnes & Noble and Trader Joe's. Wanting to try something new, I carefully mulled over my choices and decided on the Toasted Almond and Ginger bowl. Meanwhile, Chris ordered the Spicy Avocado and Lime bowl, holding the queso fresco. We both added grilled tofu.

I absolutely LOVED my bowl. It really was WICKED GOOD. When they say toasted almonds they mean it. Also, the ginger soy sauce had sriracha in it. For me, it packed a nice punch. But the whole thing was delicious. It even had some enoki mushrooms on it (another new ingredient for me). Spicy, flavorful, and super nutritious, what with all that kale, those carrots, and a heap of quinoa. I paired mine with a glass of rosemary lemonade. I couldn't taste the rosemary, per se, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Chris also appreciated the variety of vegetables in her bowl. Corn, cherry tomatoes, carrots, kale, green beans, black beans, and so much more. She also LOVED the sauce it was topped with. And her beet lemonade was neither too earthy nor too sweet. Yum!

While you get a lot of healthy, delicious food, it will set you back a decent amount. Our bill for two bowls with the added tofu and two drinks was over $31. Yikes! But it certainly is a nice place to visit for a special meal, especially in New Hampshire where vegan options are slim.

If you're vegan and have heard bad things about this place suggest looking into seeing whether or not that review was given based on a burger order. I have seen a LOT of bad reviews where the customers go with the burger and are disappointed. No, it's not like a veggie patty from Morningstar Farms or Gardein where it tastes like meat or a pizza; it's a whole food patty made with actual food. This is quite possibly the most vegan friendly, non-vegetarian restaurant in southern New Hampshire. Be adventurous while you're there. You might actually like it!

In addition to the location in Nashua, New Hampshire, b. good eateries are found in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and more. I also noticed while leaving the restaurant that they have raised beds of kale they feed you with! Apparently, they have also set up a farm in a shipping container under I-93 in Boston that produces 50 lbs. of food for the restaurant each week.

To find a location near you, visit their website. The Nashua, New Hampshire eatery is located at 219 Daniel Webster Highway. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11am to 9pm and Sunday, 11am to 8pm. Online ordering is also available!