I headed out last night with a direction but not a destination. I was driving over towards the Walmart by 65 where I knew some of my choices were The Habit, India Oven and Pho Hang. I did a quick pass down Vernon to see if there was anything interesting and noticed The Place was open, and packed! I’ll go there another night, I’m excited to see what they are all about. Eventually I drove past the Habit/India Oven shopping center and turned in where Pho Hang is. I peered in the windows and it was lightly occupied. Before deciding for certain I coasted further into the shopping center in the corner by AAA. I didn’t think anything was actually there but then saw the sign for Baagan. I recalled that it was on my list but I could not remember what type of food it was. Once i got closer and parked I could clearly see into the windows and saw the rest of the sign: Healthy Alternatives… Powered by Nature. “Oh boy” I thought, “it’s the vegan place.”
Sure, I probably have some unfair opinions about vegans, but they’re not exactly strong opinions, I would consider them to be humorous (the opinions, that is). I’ve never spent enough time with someone that was a vegan to be properly exposed to the lifestyle in order to appreciate and respect it. So, here goes nothing. When I walked inside I was actually a little confused, I wasn’t so sure all of a sudden that they had much to offer in terms of food. They place had a coffee house thing going on with the design and seating. There was an area with a couple of lounge chairs and a couch. I immediately noticed smoothies, teas and ice cream on the menu. The menu that I apparently skipped over did, however, list soup, salads and sandwiches. An employee come out from the back and greeted me while I studied the menu and probably looked like a deer in headlights. Another person came out, one of the owners, and after I told her I was completely out of my element and asked for suggestions she started going over my options.
I knew I would have a cup of the Indian Lentil soup, it sounded great and I’m pretty sure it was the first thing I smelled when I came in. When I asked about the sandwich options she told me she was about to make the last curry panini of the day and I said I’d take that. I wanted to try a little bit of everything to make sure I gave it a fair shot, so I also chose the tuscan kale salad and a tea. She told me their most popular tea was the Be Slim Satva, which she described as a little like chai after listing off some of the things that were in it. I went ahead and ordered one of those. With the panini, salad, soup and tea it all came to around $20 which seemed like a lot, but in hindsight I think it was a fair price. The quality and freshness was fantastic, and it was quite a bit of food. With the ordering taken care of they both went into the back to work on my food and I took a lap or two around the cafe to take photos.
Much like a coffee house they have lots of things to buy from yoga supplies (mats, bags, cousins, etc) and blankets to tea pots and infusers, and lots of organic snack items like kale chips.
My Be Slim Satva tea and Indian Lentil soup came out as I was finishing my rounds. I was shown the sweetening options, raw agave nectar and coconut sugar and given a taste of the latter, which I ended up using. after sweetening my tea I sat down to take photos of the soup and salad (which I was given right at the register). My Curry Panini was delivered right on time as I finished those up.
The Tuscan kale salad was fresh kale with a sweet honey mustard dressing, persimmons, pomegranates and chopped almonds. This was the most dense salad I’ve ever eaten, and possibly one of the tastiest. Very sweet from the dressing and pomegranate, and the persimmons were ripe and juicy. I ended up taking half of this home and eating it with lunch the next day and it was still great. My poor refrigerator didn’t know what hit it, it probably hasn’t seen a salad since my vegetarian roommate moved out a couple years ago.
The Indian lentil soup was great, I already like lentil soup as it is. This version had a great heat that built up over several spoonfuls.
The tea was as she described, a lot like chai, though it seemed much more mellow than other chai’s I’ve had. This wasn’t a bad thing, it was tasty and very soothing. It is a blend of three kinds of tulsi, turmeric, licorice, black pepper, green cardamom, fennel, ginger, clove and cinnamon.
The Curry Panini was the big surprise. The “meat” if you will (ha), in this is a spread they make with potatoes, cauliflower, chana beans and some other things I missed. It was one of the most unique textures I’ve encountered. I should really work on my vocabulary, because I can’t think of how to describe it, but it was awesome. The panini was warm, which caught me off guard despite the toasted bread. I guess whenever I think about a vegetarian sandwich I think cold, crisp vegetables. In addition to lettuce and bell peppers it had a creamy cilantro sauce on it and was served with a mint chutney on the side which was a great pairing. I think I kind of fell in love with this sandwich, I could come back and eat one of these every week and I don’t think I’d get tired of it (of course I say that about a lot of things I then proceed to burn myself out on, but I think this would have more staying power than most). I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s actually not technically on the menu, at least not yet. They’re trying it out right now, so you might have to ask if you can order one.
As I said, this was a lot of food. I left full, but not that heavy burger-full that has me wanting a 2 hour nap. It was a very satisfying meal all together. I never thought I would be giving a vegan place a perfect score, but this was an amazing visit and introduction to how good vegan food can be. The owner (actually both, the 2nd one came in while I was eating) and their employee were all super nice, helpful and patient as I asked questions.