I was in Richmond this past week. I had checked Happy Cow ahead of time and picked out some restaurants to visit. Luckily, my colleagues were game to try them; so we went to a couple of restaurants in the neighborhood of Virginia Commonwealth University.
The first was Ipanema http://www.ipanemaveg.com. They are not entirely vegetarian, but overwhelmingly so (one fish dish). It's in a basement, and is dark and narrow. It looked sort of like a college bar; in fact, there is a bar but it's all about the food. It was astonishingly good. The only menu is on a chalkboard; I guess it's different every day. The dishes were creative, but they worked really well. I had a grilled tofu sandwich (the tofu was grilled, not the sandwich), along with a cup of white bean tomato soup. Both were phenomenal (I lit into it like a wolverine after a day of trying to survive on what I could pick out of the conference lunch buffet...). Someone had tempeh with plantain fritters (I'm not getting the names of the dishes exactly right). It was in a really fabulous tomato sauce with cilantro. Both her dish and mine came with sweet potato fries. One person had the fish dish, which was on a bed of Israeli couscous with something like apricot chutney; another person had the tofu version of the same dish. I didn't try that one, but they really liked it. Another person had a veggie burrito that was as big as your head. I should point out that this is a college restaurant, so they don't give you those chintzy nouvelle cuisine portions. Despite the fact that I was already stuffed, I had to try one of their vegan deserts. I chose coconut cinnamon vegan creme brulee. I don't believe I've ever had real creme brulee before, but my companions tried it and said that they wouldn't have known the difference. Others had pear-ginger pie and strawberry-almond pie. I would've tried those, but finishing my own dessert nearly killed me. The waitress was also excellent. I give this place 5 stars. Please go there if you're ever in Richmond. ;)b
The second place we tried was Panda Veg, a vegan Chinese restaurant. The atmosphere was very "college" and it was very inexpensive. The food was decent, not great. The waitress was very nice and helpful, if a little overworked. I had veggie wonton soup, which was, again, good not great, though very pretty with green wontons. I also had mock beef with broccoli. The mock beef was a bit salty and there was one flavor stood out a bit that I couldn't put my finger on; maybe ground ginger? Anyway, it was definitely better than the romaine lettuce and broccoli that I'd had for lunch at the conference... My companions had a variety of appetizers, with which they seemed quite pleased. We were really pleased when we got the bill and it was $40, including tip, for four of us.
I'm really disappointed that I didn't get to the Harrison Street Coffee Shop http://harrisonstcoffeeshop.blogspot.com/ If they opened a bit earlier, maybe I could've gotten there for some French toast before the first conference session of the day. :(
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