One of the things I've learned over the past few years is that if I don't resonate energetically with a chef I usually don't really enjoy their food either. And so while both of these are mega famous, instead we opted to check out the less known Better Life Cuisine which had gotten rave reviews from Heathy on her blog. Amazingly the restaurant is located only a block away from Juliano's on Broadway Street, which we thought provides good balance as both places are dramatically different; the latter is more 'high end' whereas the former is small, cozy and unpretentious - in other words, more up our alley. ;-)
We were warmly greeted by the waiter, who explained to us that the man who started Better Life Cuisine has spent about 20 years working at different raw restaurants. The place is therefore the culmination of what he has learned works and doesn't work, and his expertise really does show. The menu was quite varied, the portions very generous and the prices more than reasonable; basically what most foodies usually look for when eating out.
Our super friendly waiter recommended the Curry Wrap and we followed his advice. I swear it was absolutely ginormous; the biggest wrap I've ever seen, raw or cooked! When I commented to him on the size he apologetically explained that they are actually smaller than usual; a new person is making the veggie wrappers and they don't turn out quite as big. Eeek!
They were generously filled with mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, sunflower, green tomato, grilled onions, cucumbers, curry sauce, 3 croquettes and house dressing. The combination of flavors was to LIVE for! The spicing was just right with a touch of acidity and sweetness. Mmmmmmm all around!
Don was particularly drawn to the Lasagna which we were told was a popular choice. I wasn't very enthusiastic at first as we had raw lasagna at a different resto not so long ago, but my doubts vanished as soon as I saw it appear on our table.
The presentation was very lovely; the plate decorated with basil chiffonade and their signature parmesan made from almonds, turmeric and salt. The lasagna itself was slightly different than any other I've enjoyed in the past. While there were the common layers of thinly sliced zucchini, marinara sauce, ricotta cheese and mushrooms, it also contained dehydrated 'grilled onion', and was topped with a thin slab of 'mozzarella cheese'. The texture of the latter was surprisingly like its dairy counterpart. I was certain that it was made with Irish moss but I was told that nope, only cashews. Wow! The assembled dish was delicious and well balanced.
We were offered a choice of salads as a side and went with the Egg Salad. It looked uncannily like the SAD version, thanks to their ingenious use of strips of young coconut meat to imitate cooked egg white. The flavor and texture however were not as impressive; a little too much celery I thought and not enough coconut. Like everything else at Better Life though, the portion was very generous.
While we waited for our food to arrive I checked out the packaged products that they had to offer. Their Kale Nachos looked absolutely awesome! They were oozing with cheeze and fooled you into thinking that they had been cooked.
We're not used to eating 'solid food' for lunch so our better judgment told us that we should skip dessert, but their sweet display looked sooooo tantalizing! *sigh* We succumbed and ordered a piece of Banana Coconut Cheesecake. It came beautifully presented with a chocolate sauce drizzle, was light and utterly yummy.
We also indulged with a piece of Pumpkin Pie, which we were told is a hugely popular item. Heathy had also raved about it in her post (I actually got this next photo from her blog as my shot didn't turn out nearly as good.) What a beauty, eh?
We chose to have it served with a Vanilla Sauce and oh my, was it ever scrumptious! My mom never made pumpkin pie, so it isn't really part of my culinary repertoire. However Don used to be a big fan and he confirmed that they managed to capture the essence of this traditional favorite extremely well. I would have gladly had a second piece if it wasn't that I was already about ready to burst from eating so much food!
My conclusions? If I lived nearby and felt like having someone else prepare food for me (always such a special treat!) Better Life Cuisine would totally be one of my favorite raw hang outs!