Friday, May 27, 2011

A Vegetarian Walks Into a Deli

When you think "deli," vegetarian rarely, if ever, comes to mind.  But, given I was raised Jewish and the Northeast, deli is as close to a sacred eating experience as I can get.  When I was more pescetarian than vegetarian, deli was easy - lox & cream cheese on a bagel. But now that I have eliminated seafood from my diet, and that I'm also cutting back on dairy, would I still be able to enjoy a good Deli meal?

Enter Bubby's, a new deli on Cordell Avenue in Downtown Bethesda.  At first glance, Bubby's is your traditional deli - luncheon meats, rye bread and lots and lots of pickles.  I figured I'd be able to get a cheese sandwich or a salad, or perhaps some tabouleh.  But, this morning, when I checked out the menu on Bubby's website, I found some pleasant surprises.  Not only were there vegetarian options, but a number of vegan options!  These include:
  • Southwestern Quinoa Salad: Mixed baby greens, quinoa, avocado, black beans, corn and toasted pepitas with orange vinaigrette (Vegan)
  • Roasted Garden Vegetable Sandwich: Eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, pickled red onion, spinach, chickpea puree and balsamic glaze on ciabatta (Vegan)
  • Powerhouse Sandwich: House-made hummus, sprouts, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, pickled red onion and tomato piled high on ciabatta roll (Vegan)
  • Crispy Eggplant Sandwich: Eggplant, black olive tapenade, roasted tomato and provolone on ciabatta (Vegetarian)
  • The Vegan Burger: Housemade vegan mushroom grain burger with lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion and "Bubby's Vegan Sauce" (Vegan)
  • Crispy Eggplant Stack: Eggplant slices, layered with sauteed spinach over Ratatouille (Vegan) 
 For my meal, I opted to try The Vegan Burger.  It was good, though, in retrospect, I'd recommend the following tweaks - cut down on the spicy Vegan sauce, which was a bit overwhelming, and switch to a ciabatta or whole grain roll versus the overwhelming Kaiser.  But the "burger" had a nice flavor, and it paired well with the crisp lettuce and juicy tomato garnish.

The owner, Jeff Manas (who I recognized from his picture in the entryway), stopped by my table to ask how my meal was.  He then said, "You ordered The Vegan Burger, right?  We make that from scratch in house!"  I told him that I had and that I enjoyed it.  He then told me his son came up with the recipe.  When I said I was pleasantly surprised to see so many vegan and vegetarian options available, he explained that his son and his daughter-in-law were vegans and thus they decided to make multiple vegan options available.

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