‘Soulful’ Casual Dining at The Nile Cafe

It was a nice, hot day to come out to Germantown section of Philadelphia today. In celebration of Support Black Business Weekend, I headed to The Nile Cafe Vegetarian Restaurant and Juice Bar thanks to high marks on Google and mostly positive reviews on menupages. Plus I believe it’s one of few black owned vegan eateries around town. I hope to find more.
Inside the restaurant, is plenty of wide opened space with small, clean wooden tables and rounded wood chairs. The location also hosts wellness workshops and special events. Unfortunately, I missed out on a talk about Non-GMO’s and soy. Other signs showed that their soy products were Non-GMO and that food preparations were made with purified water. I screamed inside, dying to take pictures.
However, I did not give in to that particular brand of spectator-ship. After all, I came to eat.
Behind-the counter ladies were cordial and patient as I drooled over the menu.
“Turkey cheese” sandwiches, “fish” platters, chik’n “drumstick” specials, and more….
So yes, it was hard.

Amazing brown rice cooked firm and pliant lapped up savory, well-seasoned collard greens and chewy lemon chik’n with great delight. Note of lemon wasn’t overpowering, the chik’n’s sauce was light and flavorful, but I wasn’t in love with the peppers. Still, the collard greens were a definite highlight. I will no longer remember my aunt’s meat laden tough stemmed version from childhood. The Nile Cafe has crafted a delicious veganized creation that has that Southern twang without salty, fattening, animalistic horror. Soft, texture similar to tasty cabbage, these greens are worth putting in a to-go box. I enjoyed them.

The ice cream machines were down. I had been looking forward to some ice cold dessert. (They have a pistachio flavor!) Yet the refrigerated cakes and breads did not look disappointing. I was beyond happy to see some never tried Rekhati Bakes (Best Sweet Potato Pie in Philadelphia) fruit cobblers. I took apple and blueberry cobblers on the go along with Core Perfect pH water. The blueberry is divine. The crust on top is exceptional, very edible as far as crust goes, and blueberries in between….. you get that they are blueberries. They’re not overly dressed in sugar or syrup. Blueberry goodness underneath a fabulous crust. Perfect end to a great meal. I’ll be back to The Nile Cafe for more collard greens and ice cream soon.Not on the same plate though…..

New Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant

Originally, my friends (this beautiful couple I know) and I were going to see a special screening of Hayao Miyazaki’s memorable classic “Spirited Away” film at the Ritz. It was sold out. Thus, we made plans to New Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant– a star vegan spot in Chinatown, on a Sunday instead. We ordered the special four course meal which consisted of house soup, veggie pancakes, three entrees, and dessert.

This 3-4 portioned House Steamed Bun Soup was absolutely divine. Plump cooked to perfection steamed buns filled with veggies surrounded in flowing carrots, peppers, and leaves, sitting in a clear vegetable stock.

“Beef” tips in broccoli and mock fried fish both served with broccoli. I usually am not a fan of faux meats, but New Harmony is doing something right. They’re solely using tofu and seitan in uniquely innovative ways. They’re seasoned well, the textures aren’t chewy and awkward, flavors are spot on. Nothing is too salty or in need of salt. Though they gave us white rice instead of brown, the food was amazing.

I believe this is the mock duck– triangular shaped tofu cutlets in a dark brown gravy decorated with broccoli and large white onion slices. Absolutely superb. My personal favorite of the three entree selections, these crisp, tender “meaty” additions were exceptional. I often dreamed of getting my tofu to taste similar.

I was surprised by this fantastic fried raspberry cheesecake. My friend pulled a candle out of his pocket, stuck it in the candle, and lit the wick. He coaxed our friend/co-worker Laura, who was sitting at a table nearby, to engage in a quiet “happy birthday” serenade as not to disturb the other guests. To our disbelief, everyone in the section chimed in. The terrific moment almost made my eyes water. I hadn’t expected such a wonderful showing of solidarity. It definitely felt like a scene out of a feel good film.

Neapolitan dessert trio: one had strawberry, one had chocolate, and one had vanilla. The delicate crunch, edible fortune cookies  tasty (like a real actual thin cookie) with my fortune reading, “enjoy three desserts a week..” Sweet ending to an otherwise superb meal. There’s already plans in the works to try out the Sunday all-you-can-eat vegan buffet that just might end lives.