Monday, January 2, 2012

Vegan Brunch Review

Happy New Year!!! I hope you all had a nice you know, I was pretty sick. But, I'm all better now, although I think I may have passed it along to my husband, S. :(

So many new vegan options have popped up lately in the New Orleans area, and I'm trying to get to them all, one by one. I've checked out both O Vegasm vegan brunch and Wandering Buddha's vegan Korean food.

Recently, Santa Fe Tapas has started serving a vegan jazz brunch on Saturdays. This is great, because it doesn't interfere with O Vegasm's Sunday brunch. Now you can eat out all weekend!! We decided to try it last Saturday. Surprisingly, the Uptown district was fairly quiet (the calm before the NYE storm!). Easy to park, no wait, etc.

They've got a few tables set up outside, but it was a bit too cold to sit outside at the time. The ambience inside was quite nice with wooden beams on the ceiling and brick walls...very cozy.

We sat by a window, looking out onto St. Charles Avenue. The waitress came right over and was very friendly. Then, the owner came over and introduced himself (Orhan) and asked how we'd heard about it, etc. Super friendly Turkish gentleman! We were off to a good start.

My husband wanted a beer, and only one of the three taps was available. Luckily, all three were local beers and the one they had was a good one (NOLA Brown). It was early (11 am) and maybe they just hadn't been re-tapped for the day yet?

You could order a prix-fixe for $21 (one from each of the three courses), or a la carte. I ordered all three (duh) and S ordered one entree.

For an appetizer, I ordered the Wild Mushroom Corn Tamale:

It was delicious! Very flavorful with just enough spiciness. The guacamole, corn, and pico de gallo were all really nice. The tamale was stuffed with mushrooms and it was nice and warm underneath the cool toppings. Very good size for an appetizer as well. (look how colorful it is!!)

Then I got the Roasted Vegetable "Wellington" for my entree:

This was served atop a bed of cooked greens (spinach?), which were very "buttery" and delicious. The crust, although made from white flour, was very good and not too thick. There's nothing worse than getting more dough than vegetables in a dish like this. They got it just right. I was expecting the usual "roasted vegetables" eggplant, tomatoes, squash, etc. But no....this was filled with roots like carrots and turnips, etc. Loved it. As you can see on the plate, there was a streak of some sort of sweet syrup surrounding the dish. Don't know what it was, but it was just the right amount and went spectacularly with the "wellington"! Again, good sized portion.

S ordered the Imam Bayildi: Stuffed Eggplant with an almond green onion pilaf and wilted greens:

I was a bit disappointed that they used white rice. Wished for brown rice. The greens were the same as mine and were delicious. The eggplant was filled with some sort of tomato and onion concoction. It had a really nice flavor, but was just a tad oily. Now, I'm sure it wasn't oily for a restaurant, but I rarely use oil these days and everything seems oily to me (just so you know where I'm coming from). The rice was good....the almonds were a nice touch. S thought it should be on the regular menu-he loved it!

Dessert: Horchata Ice Cream and Blackberry Sorbet:

The flavor of the horchata ice cream was absolutely amazing! So good.....I've never had horchata before. I assume this was made from rice milk? The was a bit grainy. The sorbet also had a nice flavor, but was way too icy. Flavor-wise, both were delicious. Texture-wise...they need a little work. On the menu, it listed it as Ice Cream, Cookies. Not sure where the cookies were, but....a misprint perhaps?

Overall, the food was delicious, the ambience was nice, and the staff was friendly. We will definitely be back!

There were, however, a few things that were disappointing. First, the beer taps, as I mentioned above. Second, it wasn't that busy, but it took about one hour to get our entree. The music didn't start until about 12:15. We arrived at 11 am and it would have been nice to hear the jazz when the brunch started (it was a "jazz" brunch afterall). And lastly, it was cold. It felt like they had the air conditioner on, though it was pretty cold outside (we were also sitting right under a vent).'s highly recommended if you are in New Orleans on a weekend. Thank you for a lovely brunch, Santa Fe!! You can also find them on Facebook. And they do serve their normal, non-vegan menu during the vegan brunch as well, in case your fellow diners are not vegans.

Eat smart,


  1. Horchata usually has both rice and (dairy) milk in it, but it's certainly possible to make without milk. I stopped ordering it b/c of the milk thing, but C can tolerate it...and hey, if they said it was vegan, I'd believe them.

    That pilaf looks fab. Other than rice, what was in it? I have brown basmati at home that should make a dandy pilaf.

  2. It was definitely vegan! I think the rice had almonds and green onions in it.