BEST Vegetarian Lunch at Walnut’s Cafe – Bluffton, SC

Recommended: YES!

This review is coming a bit late, but this place is so good it deserves my rave review a thousand times over.

A friend and I stopped at this cafe after getting light facials at Planet Beach. It came highly recommended by two women waiting to get facials, so we swapped restaurant recommendations and went on our way. It was a bit out of the way, but we eventually found it hiding in a shopping plaza up the street.

The restaurant itself is more like a cafe, and I hesitated slightly because most soup and sandwich cafes are very skimpy on their vegetarian options. However, I was quickly reassured by the specials out front, promising me homemade black bean patties and some sort of shrimp sandwich.

Our waitress was wonderful. Extra friendly, extra helpful. I asked her what she recommended between the two specials, and she raved about the black bean burger. Instead of getting it on a sandwich, she told me it would be delicious over their house salad and she could do that for the same price.

What an amazing lunch. Lots of places say they’ve created the perfect vegetarian burger substitute, but Walnut’s is the first place that I can say really got it perfect. The “burger” was juicy, flavorful, and melted in your mouth. It was primarily composed of several different beans and nuts, but the seasonings were phenomenal. They served it on top of an enormous salad full of mixed greens (not your typical iceberg or romaine by any means), tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers. Everything was topped with a slightly sweet slightly tangy dressing which the waitress informed me was their homemade Vidalia onion vinaigrette which perfectly complimented the flavor of the black bean burger.

This was one of those meals where whoever cooked it had the expert ability to combine so many ingredients into one amazing flavor. It’s by far my favorite salad and burger all in one. And for $10, I was full for the rest of the day. Everything about this place screams awesome, so try it out if you get the chance. Just make sure you get there before 2pm because they only serve breakfast and lunch. I love Walnut’s!

 

Overall Score: 10/10

Mediterranean Mishap at Apollo Flame in Asheville, NC

Recommended: No.

I hate to return to blogging on a negative note, but I’d rather get my only bad Asheville experience out of the way. After passing a billboard promising Asheville’s best Mediterranean food as voted by residents thirteen years in a row, we definitely wanted to try out Apollo Flame. It took us three tries to visit on an open day, and we probably should have heeded that as a sign.

Unfortunately, we didn’t.

The sign outside promising pizzas and subs at a Mediterranean restaurant threw me off, but after so many positive recommendations (including that damn billboard) I continued, undeterred. I guess I made the assumption from the name that there would be Greek food (or because the people who recommended it raved about their Greek salads), but the menu was a terrible disappointment. The only Greek food on the menu was Greek salad and Greek meatballs. Needless to say, I was confused.

Another problem was that most of the dishes were meat-based, and the vegetarian options consisted of five pasta dishes with marinara sauce instead of meat sauce. When I asked whether the waitress recommended the cheese tortellini or the manicotti, she told me they were “the same thing with different sized noodles.” What?! For the record, manicotti is large tube shaped shells stuffed with meat or cheese (usually ricotta) and tortellini is small, ring-shaped pasta with a bit of cheese or meat filling. Manicotti is typically more reminiscent of a cheese lasagna than tortellini, which typically has a much more pasta taste because of the pasta-filling ratio. Or maybe that’s just my opinion. I hesitantly chose the manicotti, but I knew that I was in trouble.

The pasta dishes come with a side tossed salad, but you can substitute one of their “Famous Greek Salads” for $1.40. I love Greek Salad, so I didn’t mind paying a little extra. What. A. Mistake. My $1.40 paid for a single peperoncini, one olive, and a heaping of some tasteless feta cheese that I swear was actually haloumi cheese. That was the only difference between my salad and my boyfriend’s tossed salad. They were both served with salad dressings in enormous self-serve plastic carafes, and the homemade Greek dressing was tasteless and oily.

As if to add insult to injury, the entrees looked as though they’d been slopped on our plates like cafeteria food. The texture of the pasta can only be described as overcooked, and the sauce tasted like it came straight from a can. Fortunately, our waitress never actually checked on us after dropping off the check to ask why we didn’t need carry-out boxes.

This place is a disaster. Fortunately, I only paid $10 for this mess, but it was $10 too much. I can only assume that the moderately low prices are what keep this place open, although anyone could make some pasta in their own kitchen that is both tastier and cheaper.

 

Overall Rating: 3/10 (and only because it’s a lot of food for the price)

So Long Savannah, Hello Asheville! (And all the food you have to offer)

So moving has definitely taken its toll on my ability to update my blog (especially when it is the least profitable [read: not profitable at all] of my writing ventures,) but I have finally settled in enough to have the desire to update.

I must start out by saying the food in Asheville, NC is absolutely amazing. I have rarely come across a place where so many different types of food and restaurants exist in such a small place. From Indian street food to French comfort food, this city seems to have a little bit of everything, and I am slowly but surely eating my way through all of it. Of course I can never replace Zunzi’s (which I crave almost daily,) but the limitless options here make it a bit easier to get by.

And if the allure of tasty restaurants by the dozen in the city wasn’t enough, I need venture no further than neighboring Hendersonville (a 15 minute drive) to delight in all the local delicacies I could imagine. Fresh local fruits and veggies are abundant and priced to move much better than grocery store varieties. Hendersonville also appears to be apple mecca of the universe, boasting numerous U-Pick apple farms on either side of the road for a solid ten miles. I picked my first peck of golden delicious apples last weekend, and will be back for more this week. Speaking of which, I also tried my hand at making fresh apple pie.

Another mind-blowing foodie option is grocery stores with hot and cold bars that sell food by the pound. Now those of you who are familiar with Whole Foods know what I’m talking about, but it’s my first time living somewhere with one in driving distance. EarthFare and GreenLife Grocery both offer hot and cold bars in addition to an amazing amount of health foods. To my personal delight, I discovered that GreenLife still sells Smart Deli Ham, which for some reason has all but disappeared at other grocery stores. It’s really the only one I like to eat, so I’m tickled pink about it.

Anyway, I’ll shortly be adding some restaurant blogs and such since I’ve been plenty of places since my last post.