Three new restaurants: 678 Hawaii, Greens and Vines, HASR Bistro
Carnivores, vegans and wine, oh my!
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When Greens and Vines got its liquor license, it debuted a menu with three times the number of wines than food items. Most of the wines are red wines (including a $290 bottle of Sassicaia 2009 from Tuscany), which surprises me: given the meatless entrées, I would have expected more whites.
But this is a testament to Greens and Vines’ food: flavors that can hold their own against some of the lighter reds, like the Garnet pinot noir. Without heat to temper the bite of garlic, the zing of ginger, the kick of onions, some of the dishes light up the brain in their vibrancy.
Take the pad thai sauce, a kaffir miso blend that offers a punchy mix of ginger and miso, rounded out by kaffir leaves that impart a floral, citrusy aroma. It’s tossed with a rainbow of veggies—bean sprouts, red cabbage, bell peppers, carrots—and sea-kelp noodles. It’s my first time with these noodles made with seaweed, but I’ve come to love their springy, crunchy texture.
There are a handful of appetizers (not-tuna-salad is my favorite, bright and unfettered by mayonnaise) and only four entrees—the pad thai, a garden burger on onion “bread” that tastes more like an onion fruit roll-up; a daily special, which might be kung pao veggies or zucchini linguine with alfredo sauce; and the Living Lasagna.
Living Lasagna, twelve layers of raw vegan goodness.
The Living Lasagna is Greens and Vines’ signature dish, which has about as much in common with the starchy cheese bomb we know as Honey Boo Boo does with Jessica Chastain. It’s a vegetable terrine with 12 layers of thinly sliced zucchini, spinach, a rich macadamia nut ricotta, sundried tomato marinara, fresh tomatoes and basil pesto.
It’s usually around the Living Lasagna that people will raise an eyebrow at the prices. Its portion size is equivalent to a stack of credit cards, for $12.25. Eating raw and vegan is not cheap, but neither are the organic vegetables and ingredients Greens and Vines sources and prepares as carefully as a Michelin-starred restaurant. Decades of dining at such restaurants meant the Thompsons weren’t going to be happy just gnawing on carrots and lettuce. Entrées can be multi-day processes (they just involve blenders and dehydrators instead of stoves and ovens). Almost everything is organic, from the vegetables down to the spices and the non-GMO, wheat-free tamari (similar to shoyu but thicker and darker). The kitchen eschews sugar, stocking instead agave nectar and maple syrup powder. Banned are wheat and all grains, which Sylvia thinks of as “filler, stuff that puffs you up like the Pillsbury dough boy.” What’s perceived as healthy can be a moving target—Sylvia had recently switched out hijiki, a type of seaweed, for California sea palms, fretting about arsenic—but I think most of us don’t want to muck around in the details of what’s healthy and what’s not. It’s a relief to eat where someone else is thinking of those things.