Monday, June 26, 2006

Mint Café

For some reason, every stinking restaurant that moves into the corner-space on Coventry and Hampshire closes up within a few months--Soul Vegetarian, the Indian food place that was there for such a short time that I can't even remember its name. And now a new Thai place has moved in, and I'm praying to god for its longevity after having eaten there this weekend.

I don't usually post restaurant reviews here (mainly because there's databases out there where you can track down notable veggie restaurants for most major cities), but as with my Virginia Beach mentionables, the restaurant we visited this weekend hasn't yet made it into any of these databases, and it most certainly deserves a shout-out.

Mint Café

1791 Coventry Rd.
Cleveland Hts., OH 44118

Menu: HERE

The menu is not 100% vegan (or vegetarian for that matter), but they do have a very large pool of vegetarian foods available. And what pleased me most upon looking at their menu is that they state right at the bottom that all of their food is cooked in 100% vegetable oil. So no worries about lard. No worries about butter. No worries about ghee. The only thing you have to make sure of is that there isn't fish in their sauce, which of course isn't the case with the curries (which I'm pretty certain are almost all made with coconut milk as well).

Not only are they helpful with regard to that, but our waiter (upon inquiring as to whether I was vegan after I asked a few questions) happily pointed out that they were very much open to adjusting other dishes so that they could be either vegetarian or vegan, whether it mean leaving out the meat or switching the sauce from a fish-sauce to a vegan soy-sauce of some sort. Such friendly adaptability is of course always music to a vegan's ear, so I was very pleased to hear this, especially when he recommended some typically meat-laden dishes that they could easily veganize for me.

In the end, we settled on some dishes that were already vegan:

As appetizers, we got the edamame (japanese soy bean) as well as the tofu triangles (which had a *fantastic* dipping sauce--arghlghlghlghl).

For the main course, E got the Panang Curry with tofu and vegetables (which included red & green peppers, straw mushrooms, green bean, eggplant, and kaffir lime leaves, all in a spicy curry sauce). His had quite a bit of kick to it and was very tasty.

I got the Masaman Curry with tofu and vegetables (which included red & green peppers, onion, sweet potatoes, carrot, and roasted peanuts, all in a sweet and delicate curry sauce). Every single vegetable was cooked perfectly--the red and green peppers hadn't been overcooked and still were crisp and fresh, and the sweet potatoes were cooked to that perfect melt-in-your-mouth consistency. And the sauce was the real kicker--wonderfully sweet and mindblowingly chock full of flavors. I was impressed.

We ate it all and yet didn't feel grossly stuffed--everything was nice and light.

*And* they even have a supposedly vegan dessert (which does not appear to be on the linked menu below, for some reason) which if I remember correctly was some sort of lychee nut thing on ice... It sounded interesting, of course, but we were too full to eat anything more at that point. *And* finally, they have bubble tea, which after a bit of research and some verification through a vegan friend, is also apparently vegan (as long as you make sure it doesn't have milk in the mix).

The restaurant is also cute and decorated very charmingly on the inside--a nice blend that's not too fancy but not overly-casual either. The food is relatively inexpensive, given the quality and quantity. And the staff was very helpful and friendly.

So if you're in Cleveland, get your butt over to Coventry and check it out. Too many restaurants have come and gone, and THIS ONE NEEDS TO STAY, DAMMIT!

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