Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Imagine Vegan Cafe Photo Recap and Review

I must admit that I was concerned about our gathering at Imagine Vegan Café. I am pretty open to different styles of cooking, and was even a vegetarian for almost a decade, but vegan is SO outside my comfort zone that I was concerned. I was so concerned in fact, that I even told a few friends that this gathering would go one of two ways…a total disaster or a total success.

Well my foodie friends, I am pleased to report that our gathering at Imagine Vegan Café was a total success! If I heard it once, I heard it ten times after the gathering, “Thanks for choosing this restaurant, I would NEVER have eaten here on my own…and I LOVED it. I will definitely be back.” I think everyone who joined us had a great meal and found at least a few items on the menu that they plan on getting get upon their return, me included.

In fact, I had to go back and try that BBQ sandwich again. I am about to write something many in Memphis may claim to be pure heresy. I am debating whether or not I think the best BBQ sandwich in Memphis is...gasp, VEGAN?! Seriously folks, the BBQ sandwich at Imagine Vegan Café is that good. 

Imagine Vegan Café epitomizes what our group is all about. We want people to try restaurants that are out of their comfort zone. Initially, the idea behind our group was to only eat at ethnic restaurants. The tasting menu was introduced as a way to get people to try things that they wouldn't normally try, or better, wouldn’t know to try. I don’t know if any other restaurant fits that description better. I have wanted to go and try Imagine Café a few times, but was always nervous about it b/c I had no idea what would be acceptable to my refined palette (tongue firmly planted in cheek). I now have realized that it was most definitely my loss.

Foodiememphis promotes locally owned restaurants and the entrepreneurs behind them. Adam and Kristie Jeffrey are doing something totally different than most other restaurants. Their restaurant isn’t about food as much as promoting a healthy lifestyle. They are trying to show people that vegan food doesn’t have to be bland and tasteless, as many in our group (myself included) had anticipated. It is tasty, has good texture, is filling, and is delicious.

In perfect Cooper Young fashion, they have great tunes by which to eat. My personal belief is a good meal can only be improved by good company and good music. Go by try a BBQ sandwich, listen to some great tunes, or just sit at the bar and have a beer or two and talk music with Adam. I can’t “Imagine” a nicer time.

foodiememphis tasting menu: this is 100% Vegan, even the beef tips

Dogs n’ blankets . A childhood favorite! Six hot dogs wrapped in flaky crescent rolls.
Buffalo wings . Six boneless buffalo wings served with carrots, celery sticks, and homemade ranch dressing.
Chicken Nuggets . Five southern fried chicken nuggets served with homemade ranch for dipping.
Spinach Dip . Warm, creamy spinach dip served with tortilla chips.

Sausage Pizza . Vegan pizza served with sausage and cheese.
Beef tips and rice . Sauteed beef tips and onions served on a bed of rice.
Chicken Drumstick Meal . Mock fried chicken drumsticks so close to real thing it will scare you.
Red beans and rice with sausage . Slow-cooked red beans and rice served with kielbasa sausage.
Eggplant Parmigana . Fried eggplant topped with marinara, mozzarella and served with a slice of garlic toast.

Mini cupcake provided by our vegan baker Karina Khan. ( AMAZING! )

As our group has a tendency to vote for vegetarian dishes as the group favorite, I was curious how the meat substitutes would fare with our group. It was close, but the winner of this month's group favorite award went to...

I was torn between two items on our tasting menu, the eggplant parmigana and the BBQ sandwich. Both were incredible and one couldn't go wrong ordering either. I apologize that there are no pictures of the BBQ sandwich...I couldn't wait to eat it. I was amazed that in the voting everything on the tasting menu got at least one vote. Even the side items like the mashed potatoes and green beans. 

Our exit/Atticus survey results are highlighted below.

What food(s) did you like best?
“Chicken nuggets and the BBQ sandwich – I’m still not sure the BBQ wasn’t real meat.”
“red beans/rice + green beans”
“dog in a blanket”
“bbq, pigs in a blanket”
“Pizza and the BBQ”
“beef tips”
“Spinach Dip”
“hot wings and eggplant parm”
“buffalo wings, eggplant”
“hot sauce on the hot wings, the wings were good too, but I really liked the sauce. J

What did you like best about the gathering?
“the variety”
“meeting new people, and trying a restaurant I wouldn’t have tried!”
“the laid back atmosphere of the restaurant”
“as always, making new friends who like food as much as I”
“seeing old friends. We meet at foodie gatherings!”
“the eclectic group, and the different food”
“the company”
“spreading the word about awesome vegan food and Imagine Café”
“trying something I wouldn’t try on my own”
“not knowing who you will sit with, and then having a great conversation”
“fun location, and the GOOD food”
“hanging with my peeps J
“the wide variety of food”
“being able to sample many different foods”
“trying vegan food for the first time!”
“the whole vegan experience"
"The music, man, the music"

What can we do to improve the event?
“No complaints here!”
“Great event, I really enjoyed it. Nice choice of restaurant.”
I don’t know…this was my first one. I liked it!’
”do it more often”

Thanks again to Adam, Kristie, and the whole crew at Imagine Vegan Cafe. We had an amazing night.

If you want to go and try it yourself, here is ther info.

Imagine Vegan Cafe
2156 Young Ave.
Memphis, TN 38104
(P) 901.654.3455

Thanks to Kathy Fisher for taking the pictures for this gathering.

Imagine Vegan Cafe on Urbanspoon