What a week/weekend! This vegan has been doing too much – in addition to work I am getting dive certified which is fun but truly means I had no relaxation time this weekend other than the evenings. So what did we do with our evenings? We had dinner with friends! As an introvert, this is not typically my way to relax but surprisingly it worked this weekend and I’m so glad I agreed to it. It was Sunday night that we went for a new location (to us) so we could review.Second Bar + Kitchen is a place I have seen and heard about for a while but due to its location downtown I have never really made an effort to get there; however they recently opened another location in the Domain. So when our crazy cave diving enthusiast friends called, I suggested we give it a try. I did make reservations on OpenTable as I was uninterested in waiting around as always. We arrived and were seated immediately.Our server Cait visited shortly after and I gave her the good news that she got to help a vegan out. She was unfazed, even enthusiastic and happily gave recommendations on drinks and food. We started with a couple appetizers, mine being the blistered shishito peppers, minus aioli of course. They were smoky and salty with just the right amount of heat.
For my large plate, I ordered the vegan as-is soba noodles and sprouts (Cait double checked that it was vegan for me). How great is that?! I love when I don’t have to special order anything. Often when I do, the meal is not as good because it wasn’t designed by the chef to work that way. This dish was clearly put together with all of these flavors in mind. The silky noodles were coated with just the right amount of oil possibly including sesame. The roasted mushrooms gave it that earthy bite cooled by the creaminess of avocado. And just when I thought I needed a bit more toothiness, I got the crunch of a bit of almond, crushed and sprinkled about along with the fresh sprouts. This is why I get into food!
I give this dish and experience a full four rutabagas. I didn’t have to stress about my vegan needs nor did I have to worry that my dining companions resented my choice as they all were equally as pleased with their meals. And again the service was fantastic. Definitely check them out and look for them at the airport coming soon! This frequent flying vegan certainly will.
*We apologize for misspelling Cait’s name incorrectly prior! We didn’t know. As a “Kellie” I totally understand and am happy to update!
As the vegan and I have been writing this blog for a little while now, we have honed our dining out skills considerably. For instance, I have developed a fairly standard dialogue that I employ with each server that waits on us. Once they introduce themselves, I almost always pose the question, “if you were having dinner here tonight, what would you order?” Generally, the response is a combination of a lack of interest and a summary listing of the more popular things on the menu. But, every now and again, I receive a beaming smile and a response in the form of an impassioned plea to try a specific entrée that is the server’s personal favorite. Truthfully, I love these responses because I feel obliged to try whatever it is that can make a server gush with excitement about being able to share a favorite meal. This perceived obligation forces me out of my self-imposed dietary “box” to which my palate is accustomed, and exposes me to meals I would never choose of my own accord. This was the case at the Second Bar + Kitchen on Sunday evening. Our server, Cait, responded to my inquiry with an emphatic recommendation to try the braised beef short rib. I’ve never been a fan of beef ribs. . . . . . . until now!Cait expertly described the entrée as a succulent beef rib that is served sans bone, atop truffle grits with caramelized onions, a brandy balsamic glaze and topped with tabacco onions. My taste buds almost cowered back into their well known box at the mention of truffle but Cait assured me that I could choose any side as a substitution for the truffle grits. Let it be known that I dislike all things truffle! I opted for the warm potato salad, in lieu of the grits. Apparently, my palate is becoming more refined because the tastes married together exceptionally well. In fact, that is the best way that I can describe the meal – EXCEPTIONAL. Everything about it was top notch. In fact, I can’t find anything negative to remark except for the fact that I could have eaten a second serving. I don’t necessarily think that is an indictment of the portion size because I didn’t leave hungry. Rather, I think it is a testament to how wonderful the meal was. I can’t stress enough how well the warm potato salad and caramelized onions complimented the beef rib. If you too are not a fan of truffle, this is the way to go.
Now let’s get back to Cait. The service was excellent, to include the food runners and staff that augmented Cait’s service when appropriate. But, as the purpose of this blog is to share the places that carnivores and vegans can dine harmoniously, I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically point out Cait’s service in this regard. Cait listened to the dietary needs of the table (the vegan’s veganism) and offered modifications to accommodate all parties without issue. The truth is that Cait did this incredibly well and the vegan’s meal appeared to be as good, if not better than mine; but I will let her tell you about it.
We actually had some friends join us for the meal. They ordered flank steak and chicken, respectively. They were equally pleased with their meals but I was unwilling to share my entrée so I didn’t get to try theirs. The vegan doesn’t know it but this was by design because I wanted a reason to go back soon. Shhh!!! I hope she doesn’t read this. . . . . .
The Second Bar + Kitchen gets a very happy four cow faces from this meat eater. We WILL be back soon!