My family owes plenty to the Seventh-Day Adventists, those carne-forgoing believers who were cozying up to Jewish tradition way before it was considered cool among the rapidly splintering Protestant sects. It was the Saturday-as-Sabbath-honoring church that paid my newly immigrated great grandfather’s way through college in exchange for a few years of missionary work, enabling the Humann clan to establish itself in the Midwest. While I don’t keep the Sabbath myself, I obviously can’t kvetch too much about being denied a vegan blue plate on a Saturday. Though there are days I drive past the expanding gardens of Green Vegetarian Cuisine and resist the urge to liberate some of the deep green bunches of kale to attempt to replicate some of the specials I’ve eaten at Green over the years. Sadly, doing it myself may be the only way I’ll be able to dig into what has been one of the best entrées I’ve ever had at Green — a chard-wrapped tamale with a light tomato-based sauce I found once on special. Regrettably, the standard menu here has dropped some of the more unique offerings (RIP “monster” PB&J, menudo) while holding on to less flavorful, safer interpretations of Southern comfort food (tofu fingers).
I stopped in on a recent Sunday after completing a 24-hour toast-and-almond-butter fast that should have had me primed to appreciate anything put before me. Of course, I had forgotten about the staple industrial coffee served here that demands to be cut with plenty of sugar and cream (soy is readily available). “Jim’s is better than this,” my partner laughed. It seems some Southern eateries (authentic or retro) haven’t caught up with the country’s more discerning palettes since Starbucks (and dozens of smaller chains and independents) flooded the cities and country lanes more than a decade ago with fancy Italian espresso makers and rich mugs of joe.
While the Current has kept close tabs on Green since it opened, we’ve never given any real attention to the diner’s breakfast menu. My date and I ordered up a plate of migas, a “chorizo” and tofu taco, the classic breakfast (eggs, potatoes, toast), and side of steel cut oats. By far, the winning tastes on the table were the least considered: the complementary fennel-laced biscuits (file under: ideal morning fare), the taco, and the oats. On arrival, the classic breakfast turned up without the toast (despite the menu’s promise, we were curiously told toast was not included “on Sundays”). The papas beside the migas (themselves a veggie-rich blend including large cuts of fresh onions and green and yellow peppers), while being crisp and well seasoned, were fairly greasy and hardly warm. The salsa had obviously just come out of the chiller, its frostiness further cooling the recently piping hot migas. The store-bought tortillas didn’t help. The silver lining was found in the sweet veggie chorizo and tofu (reasonable for $1.75) packaged in a flour tortilla that was also store-bought, but respectably thin and grill-toasted. The steel-cut oats, available as a side, also for under $2, come lightly sweetened with pecan and cranberry. While I appreciate that Green serves only free-range, hand-gathered eggs, the two eggy dishes we shared did nothing to showcase the specialty item that usually means yellow, richer yolks. While breakfast could use attention, there is a laudatory eggs benedict and remarkable selection of fresh-squeezed juices available. With a little aspiration and effort, Green’s morning selection could quickly rise from acceptable to delectable. Who knows? With a few more extras on the menu, folks (like one woman I saw) wouldn’t have to truck in their own maple syrup.
Green Vegetarian Cuisine
1017 N Flores