small print disclosure: Jack Trudeau is my son, a graduate of LeCordon Bleu's Orlando Culinary Institute, and a confirmed carnivore/omnivore. He will be starting a new gig at Lyon Hall in VA in July - wishing him lots of luck. Thanks, Jack!
Ever since childhood, it was my mother that taught me the value of trying new things and keeping an open mind. Of course these are great life lessons, but I am specifically speaking about food for the time being . Somewhere in my development I picked up a strong dose of skepticism. Reconciling skepticism and open-mindedness has become a complex problem in my life, but I guess I live a life of dualities.
When my mother told me that I was going to a vegan restaurant to write a review, of course my skepticism burst forth in my defense: "Nope! I'm not doing that!" After a brief struggle, and the realization that I had no say in the matter, my skepticism diminished and I left the experience to be determined by the fates.
It was a Tuesday, around lunchtime that I finally dragged myself to the Everlasting Life Cafe in D.C.. I decided to go with my roommate, Ryan, who used to be a vegan but still lives a vegetarian lifestyle because of the siren's song of eggs and cheese.
We drove into a seedy neighborhood to find a dark orange building with a banner proclaiming the openness and veganness of a restaurant that used to be a co-op in a past life. My skepticism started to kick at this point, because the exterior, well, looked a little run-down. I ignored the urge to turn tail, and went inside.
I'm glad I did.
On entering, we found the place to be clean and organized. There were around 10-12 tables, a bar, and a few couches. It was empty except for two other people, but as we were there, maybe every five minutes, someone came for take-out.
Our second impression was markedly better than our first, and it only got better from there. Leonard, the cashier came out from around the counter, introduced himself, and gave us a tour. He took us into the kitchen and showed us a delicious array of prepared foods. Each day they have a special on the hot bar.
Today's was shepherd's pie with kale greens and macaroni and cheese as side dishes, or eggplant parmesan. They also had a fully stocked cold bar with salads of every kind. They also had a sandwich station, which we regrettably missed.
When we finally ordered, the counter staff was more than helpful in giving us samples and answering any questions. I tried a mock chicken salad, and you know what? it tasted like chicken (cliche, I know, but the flavor was spot on). We decided on three cold items: the macaroni salad, the string bean salad, and the corn and black bean salad. We also had to try the shepherd's pie with macaroni and cheese and kale greens. They put everything into to-go boxes and we went to pay. Ryan then decided to get a cashew nog from the juice bar.
We ended up with a lot of food for around $30 dollars. For DC, the prices are great.
Now for the good stuff. The shepherd's pie was a little pepper heavy, but the TVP had a texture reminiscent of the beefy goodness that I so dearly love. The macaroni and cheese was delicious, but calling it "cheese" was a travesty. They used nutritional yeast to impart a cheesy flavor to mock cheese. Creative ingredient use, but I am not a fan of mock cheese. The kale greens were also delicious. They used a touch of liquid smoke to give them a meaty flavor, and it outsmarted my taste buds.
On the cold bar side, we had one raw and two cooked items. The string bean salad was lightly tossed with oil and plum vinegar. It was super tasty for not being cooked. The black bean and corn salad was more like a salsa to me. It was delicious and a little spicy, but I could have used some tortilla chips. The macaroni salad was my favorite. It reminded me of being back in Florida. Publix, the supermarket, did an awesome macaroni salad, and this tasted just like it. The only difference is that this one had TVP in it, well that and vegan mayonnaise. I never thought I would enjoy vegan mayo, but I was surprised.
Overall, my impressions were great. I have never had better customer service at a restaurant in DC. The quality, creativity, and diversity of the food made this an excellent experience. I will definitely go back if I am ever in the area.