30 January 2011

Review: 30.01.11 - Victory's Banner

Victory's Banner

2100 W Roscoe
Chicago, IL 60618
(At the corner of Hoyne and Roscoe in Roscoe Village)

Hours: 8-3 Wednesday to Monday
Closed Tuesdays

This restaurant was a visit based on Ben's suggestion. I went there with him this morning. Their website boasts being a top breakfast spot in Chicago. Chicago Reader claims it's "one of the best breakfast houses in Chicago, period." WTTW's Check Please! has recommended it for it's zen-like atmosphere. And it's received many other accolades from various sources.

This is a vegetarian restaurant and as such, I expected a lot from a restaurant of kindred spirits. The options for vegans at breakfast were considerably limited and while you can order any omelette with tofu in place of eggs, and there is a tofu scrambler, I found these to be one in the same. It was incredibly discouraging that the tofu scrambler was just a plate of tofu, potatoes and bread and if you wanted vegetables with it, you had to order each separately (I had mine with onions, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, spinach, garlic {though undetectable}, and soy sausage). Ben ordered the veggie delight omelette with tofu in place of the egg. The presentation of both the tofu scrambler and the veggie omelette was the same. A great disappointment. When we saw "tofu omelette", Ben and I assumed "like omelette with tofu instead of egg" or a frittata using tofu, NOT tofu scramble. In fact, you can save money by going for a veggie delight omelette and adding vegetables as opposed to adding vegetables to the tofu scrambler.

The potatoes were well-done, and well-seasoned without salt allowing the customer to add salt if so moved or ketchup. The bread was very nice, whole grain with a good crust and the coffee was very nice. However, he main part of the meal was lacking in many ways. A let down considering "The best thing I ever ate" was at a non-vegetarian restaurant. The tofu scrambler here was nothing special and something I could have made at home for a lot cheaper. Overall, it's a nice place to go for breakfast with a friend, but nothing to out of your way for. Moreover, the prices lead me to believe that it's a front for people who are on the latest organic kick if it's free-range/organic, it must be worth paying more. For two people who got 1 coffee, 1 tea and two breakfasts: $31.63. No thank you. It should be noted that the review could be different from a non-vegan point of view.

For the food, presentation and environment, I give it a sad bunny.
Ben's review to come.

25 January 2011

Coming up!

I am pleased to announce that my neighbor and friend, Ben, has offered to help me with restaurant reviews. In the coming week or so, I'll be reviewing The Chicago Diner and (on his request) Victory's Banner.

Con el orgullo puertorriqueño!!

This is in homage to my officemate Lorianne from grad school, who put up with two Koreans' joking about plátano being potato. (If it were a potato, it'd be a delicious potato.)

Now, that having been said. I lately cannot get enough of these starchy bananas. They have a plátano press to homogenize the shapes of the plátano slices, but I was unable to get my hands on one before this post.

For this, you'll need:
2 plátanos verdes
1/2 c vegetable oil
A mixture of salt, garlic powder, oregano, black pepper and turmeric (like Adobo AP seasoning).

Heat oil in a saucepan. Cut the plátanos in about 1 inch slices. (Smash with plátano press.)
Place in the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides (don't forget to flip 'em!).

Once they're out of the oil, let drain a bit onto paper towels and lightly dust with seasoning. For this plating, I served with red beans and rice.

Happy Eating!

Vegan Crème brûlée

Here, I was supposed to post this at Thanksgiving time. I had had my parents and sister over for Thanksgiving along with my friends Niko and Karishma.

I thought that since it was Thanksgiving and I was going all out with a great vegan spread, I'd make a fantastic vegan dessert. I got a little help from my friend over at Batter and Beat (who so wonderfully lent me her chef's torch).

Voilà! Soy Crème brûlée!
2 packages of soft silken tofu
The innards of 1 vanilla bean
1/4 c vegan white sugar
1 c soy milk

Pure vanilla extract
Turbinado Sugar

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix all ingredients except for vanilla extract and turbinado sugar together until smooth. Add vanilla drop by drop until soy smell is gone. Once smooth and creamy, pour into individual ramekins
and bake for 30-45 minutes or until mix has set enough. Once done, place in the refridgerator for a few hours to chill. About 15 minutes before serving, take out of the refridgerator, sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar and torch.

Check out Batter and Beat's Vegan recipes, they're excellent!

Happy eating!


Okay, these are quite possibly the best pretzels ever! Mall pretzel places can't hold a flame to these babies.

I didn't do proper pretzels, it was for my Oktoberfest Party in September. Instead, I made pretzel bites.

1 1/2 c warm (about 100 degrees F) water

1 T sugar

2 t kosher salt

1 package active dry yeast

4.5 c all-purpose flour

4 T olive oil

Vegetable oil, for pan

10 c water

2/3 c baking soda

Kosher salt

Combine the water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour, salt, butter and, using the dough hook, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan.

At this point, you can form proper pretzels, however, since I was hosting a party, I made pretzel bites. Roll into a rope and cut dough into 2 inch pieces.

Here, I put the pretzels in the lye water for 30 seconds using a mesh strainer. Return to the half sheet pan. While still moist, sprinkle with kosher salt to tqste. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Guten Appetit!

Playing Ketchup... or Catsup...

Hello everyone,
It's been a VERY long time since I've updated Vegan Chicago. Tonight I will do recipes from September to today. German snack, French dessert and Puerto Rican dish. Please stay tuned.