Boarding the bandwagon

Cafe Landwer has launched a new vegan menu.

By JASON MESKIN
March 16, 2016 19:46
2 minute read.
Cafe Landwer

Cafe Landwer. (photo credit: PR)

 
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During the past couple of years, many new vegan dining options have sprouted all over Tel Aviv. But the explosion of plant-based restaurants and dishes isn’t solely the result of demand from dedicated vegans. Many omnivores are choosing vegan meals more often, whether for health reasons or because they’re adventurous eaters.

In the last few weeks, the popular Cafe Landwer chain launched a new vegan menu in more than 50 of its branches throughout the country, both kosher and nonkosher.

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Being a hard-core carnivore, it was with much trepidation that I ventured over to Cafe Landwer in Tel Aviv’s Gan Meir. I can honestly say that all my misgivings were left at the door.

After sitting down at one of the outside tables overlooking the park, we carefully perused the new vegan menu, which includes an enticing array of dishes such as a red lentil omelet sandwich and roasted vegetable shakshouka.

We began with the vegan shwarma (NIS 59) served on focaccia and accompanied by soy flakes and caramelized onions, sautéed with market spices, tahini, chickpeas and harissa herbs. It was delicious and tasted even better than most meat shwarmas I’ve had. The hint of spice in the shwarma complemented the toppings, sauce and tahini. No less than five times, I uttered, “I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying this.”

The village salad (NIS 53) was a hearty portion of vibrant greens, garnished with sunflower sprouts, beets, quinoa, lentils, tomatoes, radishes and diced spicy lentils. I was a little reluctant to try the salad, even though the description caught my eye; but by the time I finished, that reluctance was completely eliminated. The salad was a nice combination of bitter/ tangy and sweet. The balsamic vinaigrette was great and had enough acid to make the whole thing very tasty without making you wish there were cheese in it.

For those craving comfort food, the French beef bourguignon (NIS 59) will hit the spot. Served on a bed of rice, the dish consisted of soy strips, root vegetables and mushrooms sauteed in caramelized onions, red wine and rosemary. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much the soy tasted like the real deal. Even the texture was on point. The soy was so tender, it just melted in the mouth. And the sauce was very rich without being heavy. I will definitely go back for that dish.

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Last, we tried the lentil patty stew cooked in a spicy tomato sauce (NIS 55). I’m not usually a fan of sauces (they can be devilishly used to disguise bad produce), but this was like meticulously prepared. The spinach and tomatoes in the stew were wonderfully charred. And the lentils were filling and very flavorful. The accompanying rice was great for soaking up the delicious chunky tomato-based sauce.

For dessert we opted for the rugelach filled with lotus biscuit spread (NIS 43). For me, there is no resisting rugelach, no matter how nubbly or imperfectly rolled.

These were buttery, flaky and had just the right amount of sweetness. They were the ideal accompaniment to our espressos.

If I were vegan, Cafe Landwer would definitely be one of my go-to spots. Even for those who are not vegan, the food is hearty and enjoyable. The restaurant does an excellent job of combining local organic ingredients in a highly creative presentation.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Cafe Landwer – Gan Meir
Not kosher
7 Rabeinu Tam, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 629-5870
www.landwercafe.co.il

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