Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vegan Dad on the Road: Govinda's and Sweet Freedom

Only two days left in Philadelphia and then it's back home. I will miss the option of going out to eat but I can't wait to get back to the family (and my kitchen). Yesterday's stop was Govinda's. I had been there before and I don't think much has changed. Keep in mind that I am talking about the "Govinda's to Go" side of the restaurant--a small and slightly shabby take-out diner with slow service that largely serves vegan takes on American diner classics. It's a bit greasy and a little sloppy but I still think it's fun. I have yet to go to the fine dining side which is only open Thursday to Friday. I decided to get two things this time, and not the chicken cheesesteak since I had that last time. First up: the Kofta Sub.
I liked it. The meatballs were a little mushy but I liked the spiciness with the tomato sauce and cheese. Next: fish sandwich.
I have never had faux fish before and it was actually pretty good. By itself it had a rather fishy taste and texture (if you are into that kind of thing). I would have preferred tartar sauce to a glob of vegenaise and pickles, and I thought the "fish" got lost in all the toppings and bun. Govinda's is another place that suffers from very average bread. If only these veggie places could hook up with a quality bakery it would make things oh so much better.

Since it is only a few doors from Govinda's, I popped into Sweet Freedom.
Many of you had recommended it and a few had not. As you well know I don't do gluten-free baking. I have nothing against it, it's just that I don't have a gluten intolerance and I really love bread. So, I'm not exactly sure how to review the stuff that I ate. It's not fair to compare it to its glutenated (is that a word?) counterparts, but it sounds patronizing to say it's good for gluten-free. But, I think that is what I am going to have to say. But first, let me tell you that a place like Sweet Freedom is my dream--a small, specialty bakery where I could serve up all sorts of awesomeness. Maybe in another life . . . . I really have to admire that variety of things Sweet Freedom offers: all of it soy, egg, corn, dairy, gluten, peanut, and refined sugar free. I got there at the end of the day and a lot of the stuff had been sold so I chose the Strawberry Double Chocolate Cookie Sandwich, and a Coconut Bliss Cupcake.
I wasn't crazy about the cookie sandwich--the filling had a toothpaste consistency, was too thick, and didn't taste very much like strawberry. The cookie was pretty crumbly . . . but then again it had no gluten to hold it together. The cupcake was better, I think, and was moist but really heavy and dense (and not worth $3.75). Again, no gluten. I would not go back, but I think if I had a gluten intolerance or allergies then this place would be a piece of heaven.

27 comments:

SyracuseRock said...

If you get a chance to go back, the cheesecakes at Govinda's are amazing!

Everetta 1 of 38 said...

Agree with the 1st taste of vegan Tuna yesterday, fishy taste but they are at the very least trying. Got some shrimp to try as well.

Everetta 1 of 38 said...

Agree with the fishy taste of my 1st try of vegan tuna just yesterday. Tried the Ginger=sesame sauce with it which didn't change the taste. Also picked up some vegan shrimp, hope its better.

VeggieLow said...

when i went to govindas (gourmet side), i was freaked out. couldn't handle it. i had "scallops" and my partner had "duck" and we really couldnt break the thought that we were eating animals. too convincing. the soyduck had skin. so odd. i tried to visit last time and couldnt find the website so i figured it closed... good to know it's still open

Bianca said...

Our local vegan cafe — Imagine Vegan – serves that same faux fish as mahi-mahi. It's pretty tasty. I've never ordered it, but I sampled a friend's plate. And I'm with you on the gluten-free baked goods. I love bread. I don't have a gluten intolerance, so I don't see a big point in me eating xgfx baked goods. I do, however, LOVE the texture of gluten-free pastas.

Kevin F said...

I love that fake fish! I bought it in the frozen fake meat section of an Asian supermarket, it comes in a big brick of maybe 20 slices, and I think it was about $3. The Asian fake meats really blow their American counterparts out of the water in terms of price. Also, it's called "Fish Ham," which I get a kick out of. It tastes just like real fish ham!

aster said...

My best go-to cake recipe is gluten free. Brown rice chocolate cake. No-one notices the vegan, gluten-free or whole-grainness, just that it's better than any cake they've ever had. Strictly speaking, it's babycakes' recipe adapted, but it is the best cake I have ever baked. That means this was just a substandard bakery, gluten free or not.

Tender Branson said...

I am slowly making my wishlist based on your adventures. I have been to Govinda's before but haven't ever been to Blackbird Pizza or Mi Lah.

Nicole Linette said...

I really like the straight forward tone of your blog, and I am a huge self-proclaimed foodie/gastronome. I'm following you now and can't wait to read into your vegan experiences! One of my friends recently switched to a vegan diet and it's quite intriguing.

Cheers,
nicole.

christine sheller said...

If time allows, Nile Cafe in the Germantown section of Philadelphia is a great stop for vegan soul food!

http://www.yelp.com/biz/nile-cafe-philadelphia

Erin said...

I have eaten at the Govinda's fine dining and I must say it was an AMAZING experience! I had "duck" two ways as my entree and a black bean salad appetizer. My companions had the BBQ "shrimp" and the spinach lasagna and they enjoyed their dishes as well. I highly recommend it next time you go back.

Dr. Mary said...

Have you ever been to BabyCakes? If you are ever in the NYC area, check it out. I recommend the red velvet cupcake!

Female of the Species‏ said...

I am seriously considering going vegetarian and these are delicious reasons to go veggy

Meredith murphy said...

a friend brought me some things from the bakery and i thought overall they were good, but not great, and WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY overpriced for sure. I think there was a lemon bar thing that was really good.

Lisa said...

The meatball sub looks like it could work! The fish sort of looks like eggplant, I'm wondering what the consistency was like...

Cool blog!


Lisa

We 3 Sisters said...

My 4 year old son has been allergic to eggs for 3 years and recently just added milk and peanuts to his list of food allergies. It has been a challenge to cook for him considering I have 3 older children to cook for too. I have found it easier to use vegan recipes for him to try to make it a bit easier on making sure those things are not in it. Baking has become very hard for me to do for him, but I have done a lot of trial and error cooking. Living in small town Iowa it is hard to find speciality bakeries that make allergy food. I am looking forward to following your blog and seeing if I learn any new tricks to use for my son.

Nat said...

Govinda's and Sweet Freedom! I live in the suburbs of Philly, and I've been to both. Govinda's is just that- fun. Definitely not something I could do often (especially with all that soy). But once in a while? It's awesome. And I agree with you on your critique of Sweet Freedom. Although I've had been gluten free/vegan sweets in my own kitchen, I think they're recipes are just a bit shaky.

Paul said...

I have to say both places are not on my "go back to" list. I was fascinated at first but when I found other places with much better food I scratched these off the list.

Sweet Freedom has come across as not so friendly to vegans even though they cater to our population. Seems silly to be negative in any when when talking about veganism when they are some of your best customers.

I've been to the other side of Govinda's and it was not good at all. Not to mention we were the only ones in the place on a Friday night at dinner time.

Lili said...

Shoot. I wish I had known you were visiting Gourmet to Go (aka Govinda's). Next time, have the tuna wrap, only ask for it on a seeded roll. The wrap is, well, a wrap. Basically, it gets in the way. On a sesame seed roll it's like a really good tuna hoagie, and the tuna itself is a revelation. I don't know where they get it, and I've never found it anywhere else, but it's got exactly the right texture and taste. Anyway, I hope you had a good time.

Jane Gray said...

Your food shots look so delicious... not always easy with vegan food. I have become wheat intolerant. So unfair! Why couldn't I have become celery intolerant? Jane Gray

Mutfak Faresi said...

It seems very interesting to find a man vegan. In Turkey, it is really hard to find a man who likes vegatables. Your blog is a really interesting blog. Very nice pictures!

Dolly Daydream said...

Even if the cookie and cupcake didnt taste very nice, they still look devine!

http://oliviadollydaydream.blogspot.com/

GirlishGuy said...

Hi I'm vegetarian =D Nice recipes you have here! =)
I'm also interested in fashion=)

girlishguy.blogspot.com

FraserRD1 said...

You know, after looking at your site I'm pretty close to becoming a vegan =)

A- said...

I got the fish sandwich last time and they put it on a sesame long roll (I went at night on a Sunday so they were probably out of rolls). The sesame rolls are definitely better, also didn't get pickles or veganaise... just some leafy greens! They're usually pretty cool about changing things up for you if it's within reason.

Next time you're on philly and can handle splurging on one expensive dinner try Horizons!!

Jennifer Murphree-REALTOR® said...

Hey vegan dad!!! I just tried to make your lunch meat! I think it turned out pretty darn good considering I have never made fake meat before!

I was hoping that you have or are working on a fake fish recipe. Any type of fish substitute would be awesome!!!! If you have one or know of a good one would you please share? If not, do you know of a good one I can buy commercially?

Thank you!

Jennifer Murphree-REALTOR® said...

Hey Vegan Dad!
I just tried your veggie lunch meat recipe, thanks for sharing it! I had never even thought about MAKING fake meat before (so neat).

I was wondering if you have a good fake fish recipe (or shrimp, crab, scallop, any seafood item) that you wouldn't mind sharing. If not do you know of where that can be purchased?

Thank you!