Bar da Gino (Venice, Italy)

We first came across Gino when looking for a spot to have a coffee. Standing at the bar, preferably. Blending in with the locals and such. I assumed they wouldn’t have milk alternatives for the coffee, but I was wrong! So I had a delicious soy cappuccino.

We didn’t really look at the menu, but we happened past it a second time and we had a drink just to sit down after a long day of walking. Inconsequential side-story: we sat down at one of the dinner tables but since we only wanted to drink the waiter asked us to move to another table. Then I saw a lady ordering a delicious-looking bruschetta and we had dinner anyway. Sorry waiter..well I’m sure he got over it.

So we asked for the menu and we found actually several vegan options: several bruschetta, a vegan lasagne (!!) and a vegan pasta option.

Bruschetta with olive oil and cherry tomatoes at Bar da Gino
Bruschetta with olive oil and cherry tomatoes

 

For our starters we tried two bruschetta; the ‘toscana’ which is a basic olive oil and garlic one and the ‘umbra’, which also had garlic and olive oil but also cherry tomatoes and oregano. The bruschetta were crunchy and the portions generous.

Bruschetta with olive oil and garlic at Bar da Gino
Bruschetta with olive oil and garlic

Of course I wanted to try the vegan lasagne for my main course. Interestingly enough, I had seen several other places that had a vegan lasagne. I was still a bit cautious (translation errors do happen), so I asked with the waiter to be sure.  He confirmed that it was really vegan. It was very delicious!  We also tried the vegan pasta in red sauce. A classic, and very good as well.

Vegan lasagne at Bar da Gino
Vegan lasagne !
Pasta with tomato sauce at Bar da Gino
Classic: pasta with tomato sauce

There were no vegan desserts available, but we could close the meal with a nice coffee, a soy cappuccino in my case.

Overall this place seemed quite busy, it is a bit higher priced. Service started out fast but when we asked for the bill we had to wait a while (might have been due to a shift change). But overall, food was good and it was a nice surprise to have vegan lasagne!

Soy cappuccino at Bar da Gino. I know you are not supposed to drink cappuccino after breakfast ..
Soy cappuccino
Type of place: Italian cafe, bar
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website : None

Bagelstein (Paris, France)

Bagelstein is a chain of bagel eateries all over France. They started to expand abroad, with a few locations in Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany. The bagel itself has an interesting history, they are thought to have been brought by Polish Jews to the US (Specifically New York) where they became a staple*.

The first time I visited Bagelstein was a long time ago, in Grenoble, after a hike for which I was totally ill-prepared. It was one of the first times I had a bagel, which was not that common in France around that time. I really liked the bagel and I remember the fun and unusual decor.

Bagels on display at Bagelstein Paris
Bagels! Almost all are vegan!

Fast-forward to last month. I kind of forgot about Bagelstein until I visted Paris a few weeks ago, and I noticed several Bagelsteins. Somehow I had lived in Paris for years without noticing this!  Time to correct this oversight and test some bagels.

As mentioned, Bagelstein has a quirky kind of decor, with a fake family tree on the wall and signs that say “Men who enter here are never seen again” or something along those lines.  For those familiar with Subway, ordering is a bit similar. You pick the type of bagel you want, (all but one are vegan) and the staff will prepare your bagel directly at the counter. There are standard bagels ‘recipes’, of which none is vegan. But you can also construct your own bagel with the ingredients available: there’s veggies like onions and tomatoes and several sauces. After that you bagel is wrapped and ready to eat.  There’s also soups, but I don’t think those are vegan. For drinks there’s coffee, teas, soda’s and milk shakes.

Bagels at Bagelstein Paris
Salty bagel with veggies and sweet bagel with speculoos !

Nice surprise, they have a “dessert”. While there are a lot of non-vegan pastries, there’s also a “dessert bagel” which is a bagel with a sweet spread, such as peanut butter, nutella and speculoos spread . I am not sure about the peanut butter, but it might be vegan. The speculoos spread is surely vegan 🙂

Type of place: bagel/take-out
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes
Website (French): http://www.bagelstein.com/

* Sources:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/bagels-israel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagel

La Tecia Vegana (Venice, Italy)

La Tecia Vegana is a fully vegan restaurant in Venice, away from the centre. It was in fact not in a place you’ d naturally bump into. I  can very much recommend going there, it is worth the journey. When we arrived at la Tecia Vegana it seemed closed. It was however open and very busy! The restaurant opens for lunch and then reopens for dinner.

Interior at La Tecia Vegana in Venice
Interior at La Tecia Vegana

In Italy the approximate structure of a (fancy) meal is as follows** : aperitivo (with small snack),  antipasti (starters), primo (soup/pasta/carbs), secundo (‘protein’) with sides and salad, dolce (dessert), coffee, digestivo. Obviously not all courses are mandatory, but this is useful to know since often restaurants in Italy will have a separate section on their menu for their first and second courses. Additionally you get bread with everything, which is awesome.

Vegan bigoi at la Tecia Vegana
Bigoi: a vegan variation on a traditional Venetian dish

The atmosphere in the restaurant is casual and pleasant. I noticed that, probably due to its location, it was mostly filled with Italian guests. We arrived a little bit late for the lunch, as the restaurant would close again at 1500 until dinner. Spoiler, they didn’t kick us out at 14.55, so that’s good.

Mushroom filled crepes at la Tecia Vegana
Mushroom filled crepes!

The menu is translated in several languages, including English. Some of the translations were a bit off we found later but the general gist of it was clear. We wanted to try a bit of everything, and still have some space for the desserts. The starters looked great, but they were not very special (hummus, falafel, and such) so we skipped them and jumped straight into the primo.

Chick pea omelette at la Tecia Vegana
Chick pea omelette

We started with a vegan variation on a typical venetian dish (bigoi in salsa) and the crepes with mushrooms filling. The bigoi is a dish with special long noodles and red onion in sauce (I believe the traditional version is made with anchovy or sardines), which was quite special and delicious. The crepes were very good as well.

Tofu-stuffed peppers below, pumpkin with herbs and potato soufflé at la Tecia Vegana
Tofu-stuffed peppers below, upper left pumpkin with herbs and upper right potato soufflé

For our secundo we had the chickpeas omelette and stuffed peppers with tofu. For side dishes we chose the spicy pumpkin and potato soufflé with leek. This was an example of a mistranslation; the pumpkin was not spicy in the sense that it was hot, it just had spices. The potato soufflé was nice, but not very special and also quite stuffing.

Vegan tiramisu at La Tecia Vegana
Vegan tiramisu ❤

Even though we had only a little bit of space left in our stomachs we still wanted to have some dessert. Of course we had to try the tiramisu. Wow, it was amazing! It had been a while since I had “real” tiramisu, but it tasted just like the real thing to me. I suspected it was made with silken tofu (an ingredient also often used for vegan chocolate mousse) but it was made with almond cream. We also tried the pear almond/walnuts tart. After we managed to squeeze in a little coffee.

Pear, Almond and walnuts tart at La Tecia Vegana
Pear, Almond and walnuts tart

In general the service was good, because it was busy we had to wait a bit. It was not really an issue but we felt the pressure of time since they were supposed to close at 15 again. It is a bit on the pricier side, but I think it was worth the money. The food felt a bit more fancy than a standard eatery and also the plating is done with a lot of attention. Special shout-out to the small breads that were served with the food: delicious!

Almond cappuccino at la Tecia Vegana
Almond cappuccino
Type of place: Restaurant
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!
Website (Italian) : http://lateciavegana.it/ 

** Sources:

https://www.disgracesonthemenu.com/2011/07/italian-courses.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_meal_structure

Cloudcakes (Paris, France)

Sign outside with menu options at Cloudcakes
Sign outside with the breakfast menu

This small bakery is fully vegan! It is open during the week for the whole day, and on Sunday for brunch. We went on a Saturday morning, lured by the promise of vegan croissants! And our hotel was nearby, which may or may not have been a coincidence. We actually arrived a bit before it opened, because I misread the opening times. That turned out to be a good thing since the place filled up quickly. By the time we left there was a queue and no more spots to sit.

Muffins at Cloudcakes
Cute little muffins!

Unfortunately Cloudcakes was out of vegan croissants the day we visited. No biggie, there were enough great breakfast dishes left. We got pancakes and chocolate- banana toast. The food was very good, and filling. The perfect start to day full of museum visits and walking!

Pancakes with vegan whipped cream, fruits and caramel at Cloudcakes
Pancakes with vegan whipped cream, fruits, almond shavings and caramel
Peanutbutter-banana toast at Cloudcakes
Chocolate-banana toast

We both had a big coffee as well, they use soy milk by default for milky coffees & teas but I believe there’s other milk alternatives available as well.

Delicious soy cappuccino at Cloudcakes
Delicious soy cappuccino

They also do take-away for both the food and the coffee. We got some muffins for later. They unfortunately got damaged in transport, so no photos (we had a red velvet and a tiramisu cupcake, which can be seen below) The taste was still sublime!

We returned on Sunday for lunch, but there was actually no lunch, just brunch. Since we were a bit late there was not much food left. Also there was also no space to sit so we got some muffins for takeaway. Unfortunate but understandable, the place is very popular.

Cakes and muffins at Cloudcakes
Cakes and muffins

Type of place: bakery, take-out
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes
Website (French) : https://www.cloudcakes.fr/

Vietnam in Paris (Paris, France)

Table setting at Vietnam in Paris
I can eat with chopsticks, but I am sure my technique is lacking!

As the name already suggests, Vietnam in Paris is a small Vietnamese restaurant in Paris, more specifically in the 2nd arrondissement. I was in Paris for the weekend with my mom, and we stayed in a hotel nearby. I had read about Vietnam in Paris before, so I was interested to check it out and my mom kindly agreed to join 🙂

Sign with "100% vegan" in Vitetnam in Paris

This restaurant is relatively small, and the interior is very nicely decorated, with beautiful art on the walls. The (fully vegan) menu is simple and small, there are 5 starters, 5 main courses and 6 desserts. I prefer a small menu, it reduces the stress of choosing, which is something most vegans are not used to since there are usually only a few options if they go out for dinner! Also, in a smaller place like this with 1 cook,  1 person can most likely not cook many dishes very well (yes I have watched a lot of restaurant shows…)

Vegan nems at Vietnam in Paris
Nems!

We arrived quite early for Parisian standards, which was good because we didn’t make a reservation and the restaurant filled up completely! There was one very large group though, which took up over half the seats available, so I am not sure if the restaurant is full every day. I won’t be surprised if it was, the food is delicious!

Vegan Vietnamese crepes at Vietnam in Paris
Vietnamese crepes

The service started relatively fast, even though we were not asked for drinks. We started with the nems and crepes. I felt the sizes were a bit off; the crepes were quite a bit smaller than the nems. Both tasted very good. After we got the “plat du jour”  and a curry. The main course arrived quite fast after the starter.

Curry with tofu and rice at Vietnam in Paris
Curry with tofu and rice
Plat du jour at Vietnam in Paris
Plat du jour, or today’s special; tofu, rice and vegetables

Unfortunately after this the service started to slow down. We weren’t offered a second drink and had to wait very long before we could order dessert (most likely due to the large group) Since several desserts looked good I wanted to try the “thé gourmand” which is a tea and 3 small samplers of dessert but they were all out. Instead I opted for a taro pudding.

Taro pudding at Vietnam in Paris
Taro pudding!

Overall the experience was very pleasant, the food was very good, and the prices very reasonable. It was unfortunate that the service was lacking a bit,  it was most likely due to the large group. I guess it would have been better if they would close the restaurant completely when a group that large would enter, but I don’t think that it is something that would occur that often that it would be a deterrent.

Type of place: Vietnamese restaurant
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (French) : https://www.facebook.com/vip.saveursduvietnam

Farini (Venice, Italy)

In Venice and just want to grab a coffee or a quick lunch? Go to Farini!  Farini is a chain of ‘fast-food’ bakeries with locations both in Venice and Milan. They offer pizza, salads, focaccias, other types of breads and sweet pastries. Additionally they serve drinks, and they have soy milk as well if you want to get a soy cappuccino. It was possible to sit in the bakery itself, but it was very crowded so we decided on take-away when we visited.

Menu at Farini Venice
Menu at Farini

We went there specifically for the focaccia, and there was a nice selection of vegan and non-vegan ones. While traditionally focaccias have vegan dough, I did ask the server to be sure, because experience has taught me that sometimes the most basic and innocent food items might hide dairy or eggs in them. The bakers were nearby, in fact you can see them make your food, and they assured me that the focaccia dough contains no animal products. There were several vegan options and we choose one with onions and one with olives. They were quickly heated and cut (with scissors!) into smaller pieces.

Focaccias in a display at Farini
Focaccias!

Both focaccias we tried were very nice, a bit salty though, but that might just be due to the olives. For me personally it was not off-putting. If I lived nearby I would probably be a frequent visitor of Farini 🙂

Type of place: Bakery/Take-out
Completely vegan: no
Website (Italian): http://farini.com/

Le pain quotidien (Geneva, Switzerland)

Terrace outside of le Pain Quotidien in Geneva
Outside of le Pain Quotidien in Geneva

 

A few weeks ago we were out and about in Geneva, looking for a place to eat a small lunch. I knew that le Pain Quotidien has several vegan options, I like bread, so I wanted to check it out! I was under the impression that le Pain Quotidien is pretty common in Switzerland, but that was actually not the case. But it turned out that we were close to the Geneva LPQ somehow, so that was a nice coincidence.

Le Pain Quotidien (“the daily bread”) is an international chain restaurant of Belgian origin. In Switzerland you can find them in Geneva, Lausanne and Zürich.  LPQ consists of an actual bakery, where you can buy your baguettes and breads, and a place where you can sit and have a coffee with breakfast, brunch (not vegan) or lunch. They serve pastries, salads, sandwiches and ‘plates’. For drinks there is coffee (no soy milk, at least not in the Geneva location), tea, juices, and a variety of other cold drinks.

Their menu card clearly notes the vegetarian and vegan options, which is very nice. There are quite some options actually, which all looked nice, so this review is the result of 2 visits. Else I couldn’t have eaten all of it 🙂

Guacamole "snack" at LPQ in Geneva
Guacamole with bread

The first time it was very warm inside, so we sat outside on the terrace. It was very windy outside, but the temperature was still comfortable enough. There were several jams on the table (fig, rhubarb and strawberry) which seemed vegan. We ordered the daily juice (orange, apple and blueberry) with two small dishes: hummus and guacamole with several breads.

Hummus with bread at LPQ in Geneva
Hummus with bread

The hummus and guac were good, but they could have supplied a bit more bread as the ratio topping-to-bread was a off.  The menu offers two vegan desserts:  a fruit salad and a chia pudding. We shared the chia pudding, which has a nice creamy consistency, which was topped with fresh fruits. It was not overtly sweet, which I personally prefer.

Chia pudding dessert with fresh strawberries at LPQ in Geneva
Chia pudding dessert with fresh strawberries

The second time we went in more hungry. This time we sat inside, where it was less warm but the coffee machine broke so they had no warm drinks. Oh well, these things happen. We got an ice tea and lemonade to go with the food. We tried a hummus and grilled veggies sandwich and a quinoa plate. The sandwich is nice, and quite big. The quinoa plate is loaded! It comes with carrots, quinoa, gaucamole, two types of hummus and several delicious slices of bread with nuts.

Sandwich with grilled veggies at LPQ in Geneva
Sandwich with grilled veggies

The price of LPQ is a bit higher than many other bakeries, but not all bakeries offer so many (clearly-marked) vegan options nor the possibility to sit down. Overall the atmosphere is very relaxed.

Quinoa plate at LPQ in Geneva
Quinoa plate, on the left there is the quinoa (red) with the red and standard hummus and guacamole underneath
Type of place: bakery
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (English, French, German)* : http://www.lepainquotidien.ch

* The menu is different in different countries