New vegan menu at Espresso Bar .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Maybe it’s wrong of me, but when people talk about vegan restaurants, images spring to mind of people with flowers in their hair serving bland food while sitting on comfortable cushions on the floor. That is not a bad thing. Far from it. In fact. I enjoy going to those kinds of restaurants and see it as an experience to eat there. Times, however, they are a-changin’. In line with the growing popularity of vegan food among the mainstream, popular coffee shop chain Espresso Bar is embracing the trend by offering a wide selection of vegan dishes.
The team behind Espresso Bar decided to take advantage of the heightened awareness and public interest in the world of vegan food and is launching a menu that is 100 percent vegan to attract the growing number of people who see veganism not as a just a trend but as a way of life.
The menu is targeted at those who live a fully vegan life, as well as those who also eat meat and dairy products but want to have a healthier option from time to time in an environment that is not necessarily out of their comfort zone.
The menu was put together by naturopath N.D. Dafna Richter in coordination with the head chef of the Ido Lev chain. It has been given the backing of the Vegan Friendly project, which represents the largest vegan community in Israel.
Espresso Bar has taken on a huge challenge by adding a whole new vegan menu alongside its already rich and varied standard menu. This means that diners are able to pick and choose from either menu, according to their particular preferences.
I was recently invited to sample the new menu at one of the chain’s flagship branches on the busy intersection of Dizengoff and Ben- Gurion in Tel Aviv. As it was breakfast time, it seemed only appropriate to sample the vegan Israeli breakfast (NIS 58). The unique take on an Israeli classic included a chickpea frittata (instead of egg) with onion, mushrooms and herbs, fresh bread, soya cheese, tehina, olives, jam, chopped salad, a sweet date ball and a hot and cold drink.
Aside from the somewhat strange color of the frittata, the breakfast looked like any other lavish Israeli breakfast found at coffee shops throughout the country. The eggless frittata took a while to get used to, but once I stopped trying to compare it to the original and accepted that it was made from chickpeas, I was pleasantly surprised.
As a cheese lover, I thought I would be disappointed by the soya replacement; however, after a few mouthfuls, I totally forgot that I was eating dairy-free cheese.
The rest of the breakfast was of the same high standard usually found in top-quality coffee shops, such as a large fresh chopped salad, as well as crunchy fresh bread and a couple of dips.
Even though the breakfast was filling, I also had the opportunity to sample a toast made with soya mozzarella (NIS 42). I wouldn’t have known that the cheese was dairy- free if I hadn’t been told in advance, which meant that I felt as if I were eating a regular mozzarella toast with pesto and tomatoes.
Other breakfast options on offer that I didn’t have the chance to sample include tofu shakshuka (NIS 45) and a selection of sandwiches with various fillings such as eggplant cream (NIS 39) and soya cheese (NIS 40).
The wider menu features various salads, as well as a full menu of first courses, mains and desserts.
With the new vegan menu at Espresso Bar, even the biggest vegan skeptics have the opportunity to sample vegan food without stepping out of their comfort zone. This was a huge advantage for someone like me who is interested in vegan food but doesn’t always want to go to a specifically vegan restaurant.
Unfortunately, I only had room to sample the breakfast dishes, but I will certainly be going back to try out dishes from the main menu some time soon.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
166 Dizengoff St., corner Ben-Guirion
Branches throughout Tel Aviv area
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