Back at the amazing Divine Treasures in Manchester, Connecticut, CandyPenny and I had a breakfast of chocolate. This vegan gem of a chocolate shop sandwiched between the Chinese take-out and the tobacco shop in an unsuspecting strip mall in Manchester Township would likely make my top 10 vegan spots in the country. The chocolate, the caramel, the selection, the exquisite soft-serve… they’re all very much worth the trip on their own. But they’re all there. And they’re all unbelievably delicious.For a ton of other pictures of Divine Treasure goodies, check this post from last summer.
One of their best sellers, the caramel cashew is the best of everything: texture, taste and the lingering exit of sea salt. The salt taps each taste bud on the shoulder, asking each “Are ya getting all this flavor?”
The soft serve is the best vegan ice cream I’ve ever eaten. Yes, thinking back I can to say that with confidence. And it’s covered in real, warm hot fudge. Both things are difficult vegan feats. 1, vegan soft serve is often not creamy nor rich with flavor. It often turns to half milky soup in barely a few minutes. This is not true of Divine Treasures soft serve. And the hot fudge is fudgey and hot, not simply dark brown and sweet. Its texture responds to the cold soft serve like I remember as a kid.
Another familiar spot in Connecticut, Shoreline Diner in Guilford, Connecticut. With easy-on, easy-off via I-95, I have visited this “vegetarian enclave” several times in the past couple of years. It’s hard not to. They have a billboard off the interstate that drops the v-bomb. Even if I’m not hungry, it seems worth the stop.
Since my first stop with The Electrician in 2010, the area surrounding the diner seems to be catching on with the veg craze. A Mexican joint up the street totes a banner announcing its vegetarian friendliness, while Food-Works‘ parking lot is bustling. The Shoreline offerings are a cut above vegan comfort food classics that often rely too much on packaged and/or frozen foods. They make their own patties and meatballs.
I had the Southwestern Frittata. A tofu frittata with veggies and fresh avocado. It hit the spot though binding and moisture created a bit of a texture issue. The avocado was so perfect that I would have eaten a shoe sole with it. And a homefries or other potato side would have been a million times better than the chips. But isn’t that always true.
And now, the reason for our excursion: G-Zen in Bradford, Connecticut. G-zen is a vegan eatery with a scrumptious variety of vegan and raw options. The restaurant is a peaceful and gorgeous space, more akin to dining at a fancy-pants friend’s house. The decor and ambiance beams positivity. The communal feel of the space is welcoming, however being amidst the staff’s personal conversations was a bit unnerving (the counter and register are very close to tables.) The service was a bit abrupt, though knowledgable, and tad lacking grace… with every visit she bumped into adjacent tables and shuffled our placemats with everything she set down. We enjoyed the food a great deal, so let’s talk about that.For an appetizer, we got the Sufi Kiss: marinated artichoke and Kalamata olives wrapped in filo and served with a smoked paprika aioli over organic greens. With a squeeze of lemon, this appetizer hit all the right notes. The delicate layered filo added a perfect texture to the warm salty artichoke and olive blend.
After taking a bite of CandyPenny‘s reuben at the Shoreline Diner, I decided that I wanted a reuben! G-Zen‘s reuben is sublime. Made with my favorite bread (a bread that’s pan-fried,) the house-made kraut was in balance perfectly with the marinated tempeh. Too add another layer of kick, the mustard and Russian dressing wake up all taste buds for the party. Add some sweet potato fries to the side and, bingo bango, there’s a perfect lunch.
For dessert I got the Coconut Creme Custard. The bowl of custard was a bit overwhelming in size. I can’t see how anyone could finish such a huge bowl of tapioca after a meal. The custard was subtle; it tasted a bit more like a breakfast oatmeal than a dessert. CP got the Lemon Tart, which was delicate and divine on its ground almond crust.
After my visit, I had a few issues with some of the claims on the website. One being “everything is thoughtfully prepared from scratch.” This is a bold claim. And my only complaints just happen to align with how this claim is not true. Dishes at higher-end eateries like G-Zen are knocked down several notches when they rely on things like Daiya cheese and Soyatoo as ingredients. Although vegan, these are processed foods. Processed foods are neither sustainable in their production nor made from scratch. The restaurant also describes itself as organic, which neither of these products are. Please, G-Zen, ditch these products! Your chef/s are clearly capable and needn’t take these shortcuts. And a restaurant with a very vegan menu ought not to have peacock feathers in their bathroom.