Greg goes vegan

Café Greg in Tel Aviv has joined the bandwagon

Cafe 'Greg' goes vegan (photo credit: PR)
Cafe 'Greg' goes vegan
(photo credit: PR)
It seems that “vegan-friendly” has become the latest buzz word to appeal to the young trendy people who frequent Israel’s café society. Why else would the Café Greg chain launch their vegan menu with so much fanfare at a party in their Dizengoff branch to which dozens of food writers and bloggers were invited? As one who has mastered the principles of vegan cooking over the last three years for a close family member and become quite a dab hand at majadra and meatless makluba, I found the menu at Greg’s fascinating.
Fifty different dishes are offered on the vegan menu. That’s quite a variety when one considers that veganism means no eggs or dairy and that everything consumed, from the bread to the desserts, is made from plants of one kind or another.
One also discovers that vegan chefs can turn soy-based products into almost anything – cheese, cream base for sauces, salad dressings and tasty tit-bits to liven up salads, all made from the humble soy bean.
Greg’s is a very popular chain of restaurants, some with kashrut certification, some without. There are 100 Greg branches around Israel, and the director of the group, Yair Malca, was on hand to explain why the Dizengoff branch is offering vegan food.
“There is no doubt that veganism today is a way of life and a way in which people define themselves socially,” he said.
“Greg’s is a chain that has always paid attention to the needs of our clients, so strictly speaking we had no alternative. Although, having said that, we are greatly in sympathy with the basic idea of veganism as a humane and good way of living.”
He also informed us that veganism has overtaken vegetarianism in terms of the demand from the clientele of Greg and possibly in general terms as well. And since Tel Aviv leads the rest of the country in culinary fashion, they decided that Dizengoff was the perfect place to publicize their new menu.
But being vegan doesn’t mean you can’t have variety.
Many different culinary traditions have been used as the inspiration for the plant-based food on offer – Italian, Asian, Mexican, Balkan, Swiss and, of course, native Israeli cuisine.
There were so many different dishes served, that it is impossible to list them all. However, there were highlights that showed the extraordinary versatility and creativeness of Greg’s chef.
Shwarma Glilit was made from stir-fried seitan and served in a lafa – a type of large, very thin pita – with salad, jalapeno sauce and tehina. Wakame salad was made from seaweed, cucumber, coriander leaves, mint and peanuts flavored with a Japanese soy sauce. Vegetable curry was filled with 10 different vegetables, served with white rice. And there was a very realistic-looking hamburger made from vegetables, served with fries.
Also passed around were various sandwiches stuffed with salad ingredients and seaweed on whole grain bread, dishes made from pasta, lentils and others. The “cheese” topping on many of them made a creditable substitute, including on a very tasty pizza.
Desserts included chocolate and halva mousse, sorbets and a very good banana strudel with vanilla ice cream.
Prices were reasonable. One could happily eat a three-course meal with drinks for under NIS 100. And a full breakfast, with muesli, “omelette” and frittata, is served 24/7.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Greg’s Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv B Building, 2nd floor, next to Tsomet Sfarim Phone: (03) 525-2331 Open every day, from 8 a.m. until the last customer leaves