Event - Veggie Grill Winter Menu Tasting

If you weren't aware that we love eating at Veggie Grill, let it be known now that we do! It's always a good choice if we are in the area based on health and taste - I certainly favor grabbing an order of their "wings" to go when I need a quick snack. I got the chance a few weeks ago to try out the Winter Menu, and love the direction that they are taking their new dishes with heartier ingredients and more slightly-uncommon vegetables. The new winter menu features tasty items bridging the gap in cuisine between fast casual and full-service with more roasting and sauciness. The menu became available at all locations Wednesday November 27 (as you probably saw announced when we gave away two free entrees on Facebook!). For those unaware, Veggie Grill's menu consists of items that are 100% plant-based so that creates a unique experience where every component is housemade. The business has 22 locations and originated in Irvine (the first restaurant is at the University Town Center). Their fast-casual restaurant is bright, open, and just overall a good experience. The menu features a rich array of sandwiches, salads, large plates, hefty bowls, and so much more. If you haven't been to one yet, you ought to! Photos taken on site are available here but for the post's sake, we went with Veggie Grill's own to better showcase the dishes we tried.

Photographs courtesy of Veggie Grill

Don't let the similar looking photos confuse you - these bowls have distinct flavors and cater to different crowds. The one on the left would be their Bombay Bowl (my favorite of that lunch!), a gluten-free bowl on a bed of steamed kale featuring herb-roasted veggies, their super grains mix (red & white quinoa, millet, and buckwheat), cannellini beans, cilantro/green curry sauce (with coconut milk), almonds, and hemp seeds for $7.95. It is perfect for the curry lovers as long as they bear in mind that the curry is merely a sauce whilst the kale is the main part. The other bowl is actually very similar in several ingredients but differed in cuisine type. On a bed of steamed kale as well, the Harvest Bowl featured their Field Roast sausage (wheat base with a lot of sage quickly seared to maintain sausage-like consistency), herb-roasted veggies, porcini mushroom & miso gravy, super grains (red & white quinoa, millet, and buckwheat), and hemp seeds for $8.95. This seemed to be one of the group's favorites and ultimately the one that readers seemed to want to try the most!

Photographs courtesy of Veggie Grill

So I had mentioned earlier that I like to stop in for a quick bite to-go. With the new menu comes that convenience in another form: Mini Wraps! We tried both options and again, to each his own! It was the perfect size to sate a sudden hunger and reasonably priced as well. The Buffalo-mini has a Buffalo Chickin' tender, lettuce, and ranch dressing and the Mexi-mini has a taco blend of their chickin' and tofu, Mexican spices, a hint of avocado, lettuce, and their spicy enchilada sauce; both are $3.50 apiece. They are both located on the Starter menu and are also available as an option of the "Pick & Pair" menu where you can get a wrap/side/soup with a 1/2 salad for $6.95. What a steal! Between the two, I enjoyed the Buffalo-mini better because of the Chickin' tender inside but the sauce in the Mexi-mini isn't something you should miss though! Then we tried their side dish of Herb-Roasted Veggies, a gluten-free option and way for the restaurant to never waste product as these vegetables are reused in several dishes. Marinated, roasted, and then sauteed in rosemary butter, this consists of a seasonal root vegetable selection, squash, mushrooms, and red onions. It's perfect for the roasted veggie lover.

Photographs courtesy of Veggie Grill

On their homestyle plates menu, this gluten-free BBQ Tempeh Plate can be a hit or miss seeing as opinions on tempeh are generally at extremes. The plate has organic blackened tempeh, caramelized onions, and housemade BBQ sauce with sides of creamy coleslaw and their super grains (red & white quinoa, millet, and buckwheat) for $9.50. I'm in the camp of "I don't dislike tempeh but I wouldn't choose it first" so while this one was great in composition overall, I was eager for the next one. It actually ended up being one of my favorites that day. The Quinoa Power Salad is gluten-free and chock-full of amazing ingredients. It is a light bowl of a quinoa & kale salad mixed with avocado, fresh fennel, cannellini beans, carrots, almonds, currants, mint, and hemp seeds with a citrus dressing  for a mere $7.95; it's definitely one I could get two meals out of. I enjoyed it for the refreshing feel via popping quinoa and bright mint.

It was exciting to see the new developments for winter time and the direction Veggie Grill is taking with their items. They have always been gladly approachable for even the meat eaters among us but with more complex flavors, exposure of vegetables, and cultural variation, I hope to see them excel in the restaurant realm to appeal to everyone! You can take your first step into introducing others to their good food (or even yourself!) with the neat holiday season promotion they are running for gift cards. I've already gotten mine! Purchase a $30 gift card and snag yourself a free entree; it's a neat way to treat yourself for treating someone else.