Vegetarian Soul Food Does Exist

view from the street

Proudly calling itself  “All American Vegetarian,” “Kate’s Joint” located at 58 Avenue B (on the corner with East 4 street) is truly a place where a vegetarian and even a vegan can enjoy the food he or she is eating. Skillfully created dishes imitate favorite American food and are called accordingly, “Philly Not-Steak,” “Meatless Loaf Hero” and TLT (Tofu, Lettuce and Tomato). And the good thing is that these vegetarian variants taste just as good as the regular food we are all used to.

Walking into the restaurant, a diner enters a spacious room that resembles a veranda of a large summer house. There are huge open windows that bring sunlight to the rows of tables and green plants, some of which are as tall as a human of a medium height. Only the brick walls remind the clients that they are actually in a closed space. The welcoming atmosphere encourages the diner to sit down by one of these enourmous windows to the world, relax and enjoy the food or a drink, depending on what one is looking for there.

The idea for “Kate’s Joint,” which opened in 1996, was to cater delicious and affordable ($8-13 for a dish, on average)comfort food to vegetarian customers. It is amusing that the owner of the place, Kate, who created the menu, is not vegetarian herself, even though she admits that she tried several times and never succeded in giving up meat, while her restaurant serves meatless food to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian clientele.  As far as I, not normally a vegan eater, am concerned, when I tried several plates at the joint, which were appetizing, filling and didn’t make my stomach feel at risk of explosion, I seriously thought that I could go vegan for more than just until Easter.

Indeed, with Kate’s homebaked bread, choice of dairy or non-dairy cheeses, mashed potatoes made with soy milk, non-steak, un-sausage and fakin’bacon, one doesn’t lose much giving up meat.

Have Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, a delicious plate of Mexican-style crispy flour tortilla filled with fried organic eggs, beans, cheese, a side of salsa and hash browns. If you are a vegan, you can have tofu scrambled as a substitute for eggs (a good option for those who are not vegan but want to try soemthing different as well).

While the breakfast menu is only available until 4pm, lunch can be served at any time. The most brilliant appetizer is a plate of Buffalo Un-Chicken Wings. As tofu is a product that takes in any flavor, like a sponge, it is absolutely savory with spicy buffalo sauce. The snack tastes exactly like those boneless chicken wings with some sauce served in many restaurants around the city, only the sauce here is jucier and the “meat” is tenderer and not over-filling. Along with traditional carrots and celery sticks and a side of a non-dairy ranch dressing, they are a great way to start a meal.

As for the main course, the all-time favorite is an Un-Turkey Club with un-turkey (made of deli-sliced texturized soy protein), “fakin” (crispy and salty non-bacon, the restaurant’s secret homemade recipe), lettuce, tomato and dairy or non-dairy mayo served with either potatoes or a salad.  Bread lovers will definitely appreciate the fresh baked base for the sandwich spiced up by the unusual taste of the mayonnaise which is spread generously over the bread. If you try the un-turkey by itself, it doesn’t taste great, but in the combination with lettuce, tomato and mayo, the sandwich is the dish that will quickly disappear in your mouth with not even crumbs left on the plate.

one of the joint's specials

Adding up to the regular menu, there are day-to-day specials you should always ask about. A nurtitious meal with luscious portobello mushrooms, spinach, artichokes and mashed potatoes is a great dinner plate, but it’s not on the menu and is not available every day, so don’t you miss it.

With the culinary inventions that satisfy not only vegetarians, “Kate’s Joint” proves two myths wrong. First, yes, vegetarian food can be flavorful. And secondly, no matter how delicious it is, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Moreover, if you go to college, here is a student discount for you: come any time before 8pm on Mon-Fri, bring the coupon attached in the end of the post and receive a 20% discount with your ID, so if there had ever been a myth that there are no student savings on vegetarian food, it is now proved wrong as well.

Ekaterina Lalo

Visit my blog at http://nycvalues.blogspot.com. And check out www.campusclipper.com for amazing deals and coupons for students.

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