Street Beirut (Geneva, Switzerland)

 

Another Lebanese restaurant today! Well, what can I say, hummus is just one of the main food groups in veganism 🙂 Street Beirut is on the more modern scale of Lebanese restaurants, closer to Homous & Co than to Le Cèdres du Liban. When we visited on a Saturday for lunch it was busy and quite noisy. Part of the room was reserved, so I think with all customers being put in one half of the room this added to the noise.

Interior at Street Beirut
Since the place was pretty packed I couldn’t make a lot of pictures of the interior unfortunately

On the menu you can sandwiches, salads, warm dishes, and platters. It is marked which options are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free! Street Beirut also serves mezze, but it was not clear which of these were vegan. During the week there is a daily menu as well, with different warm dishes every day (from what I spotted, mostly non-vegan stuff..). There are no vegan desserts, unfortunately. There’s also a take-away and delivery option.

Falafel platter at Street Beirut
Falafel platter: Falafel with tahin sauce, moutabal, hummus, tabbouleh and the magical pickles!

We tried the falafel platter; which consists of falafel with tahin sauce, tomatoes and salad.  All platters are served with taboulleh, hummus, moutabal, pickled turnips (?) and flatbread. We didn’t get the bread until we asked for it though. The moutabal and falafel were good, nothing interested to report..you cannot really go wrong with these I think!  The tabbouleh was a bit disappointing, it was chopped very coarsely. The hummus was good, very soft. The thing that really stood out for me were the picked beets or turnips. The internet tells me they are called ‘Kabees El Lift’, but please correct me if I am wrong 🙂 On the menu it was just ‘cornichon’, which means ‘pickles’. They were a bit salty and sour, I never had them before, and I really enjoyed them!

Pita at Street Beirut
Pita served in the smallest grocery basked 😀

I got a mint tea with it; it is sweetened with sugar and not with honey. In fact, our server was a bit confused when I asked about it.

Tea at Street Beirut
Nice tea pot

Overall the service was okay. The place is more of the hip fast-casual type, not too fancy (except for those magical pickles). I did find it expensive for what we got, especially since the atmosphere was rather casual.

Wines and tiles at Street Beirut
Nice tiles
Type of place : Lebanese fast-casual restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (French): https://streetbeirut.ch/

Coffee break (Groningen, the Netherlands)

Coffee Break

I went to Coffee Break in Groningen almost two years ago. I went to get breakfast and coffee, and it happened to be close to my hotel. They had several sandwiches for breakfast, including one that was easily veganisable, a peanut-butter banana toasty. At the time it was served with honey, which was easily left out. Also they had plant-milk for in the coffee. At that time I didn’t make any pictures, but I made a mental note to come back and write about this place for my blog.

Interior at Coffee Break
View on the reading table

Finally, I made my way back to Groningen and visited Coffee break again. The place expanded! It is now at least three times as big, with a second floor. While the room is spacious, the atmosphere is still relaxed and cosy. There is for example a reading table with several magazines and newspapers available. The toast that I had last time is now served in a vegan form. And very special: in the fancy coffee you get oat milk as a standard. They have other milk alternatives, such as soy and almond, as well. They do serve cow milk, but for that you have to pay extra. This is the first time that I have seen that! I really like the initiative.  I was a bit surprised that on the tables they do have standard creamer, but later I found out they normally have soy creamer. There was just an issue with the supplier that time.

Vegan cake at Coffee break
Vegan forest fruits and date cake

When I visited Coffee Break there were several cakes on display, and one was vegan. There is a whole bunch of vegan items on the menu now!  We wanted to try a slice of the vegan cake of course, so we had that with a coffee. They also have several smoothies, so I wanted to try one of those as well. An interesting combination, and we also got our order in several parts. We got the cake before the coffee, probably because there was only one server for the entire room. It was however, not that busy. The blueberry cake with dates was nice, not too sweet. The coffee was fine too. It got served with chocolates, which were not vegan. [Edited to add] I have been contacted by Coffee Break and they have informed me their chocolates were in fact vegan.

Coffee and cake at Coffee Break
Oat latte and a slice of the aforementioned cake

We got our smoothies after the coffee, we tried the “mean green”, a combination of spinach, parsley, ginger, mango, and lemon juice (water-based) and the “goody fruity”, a banana-strawberry version with almond milk. The smoothies look very pretty, and are decorated with cacao nibs. They are served with a recyclable straw. Taste-wise they were fine, not very special.

Smoothies at Coffee Break
Pretty smoothies

One thing that is strange, is that the toilet is located upstairs. I have to admit here, that I only thought about it because one of the other patrons was in a wheelchair. I will try to make the effort to note these things. [Edited to add:] I initially thought there was only a staircase but there is also an elevator.

Interior at Coffee Break
Upstairs room

 

Type of place: Breakfast and lunch café
Completely vegan: no

Address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 22, 9711 HG Groningen, Netherlands

I couldn’t find a working website for Coffee Break. At the time of writing the website linked from the Facebook of their old location was down.

Biofred (Geneva, Switzerland)

Entrance of Biofred

Biofred is a small shop which sells biological products, including many gluten- and lactose-free products. In addition to the shop section there is also a small café with a changing daily menu. They offer warm dishes, sandwiches, salads and desserts. For drinks: smoothies, juices, coffees, etc. Not all food on offer is vegan or vegetarian, but there are several veggie choices.  They serve breakfast as well as lunch items. They also do take-out.

Shop at Bio fred
Part of the shop

The space inside is very small, there are two tiny tables inside and one outside. There is relaxing music, and a chill atmosphere. I don’t think there is a bathroom, though.

Menu at Biofred
Colourful menu!

They use a lot of ” superfoods” in their dishes, like algae-paste, spirulina and maca. They also use a water which has been treated with a specific osmosis process, of which I am …. not sure what to think. They also sell water which has been filtered by this specific process by the litre.

Daily soup at Biofred
Courgette-sweet potato soup

There are several vegan options available, and we were hungry, so we tried several different things. The daily soup was made with courgette and sweet potato.  The soup tasted mostly like the sweet potato, I didn’t really taste the courgette. There was a hint of anise, which was interesting. It did need a bit more seasoning, I think. Strangely enough, it got served kind of lukewarm. The daily warm plate was a lentils with brown rice dish, which is a great and classic combination, of course. The lentils were nicely spiced, but again the plate was a bit lukewarm. (For both the daily soup and warm plate there is a normal and a large version, we took the normal version)

Daily plate at Biofred
Daily warm plate: Rice with lentils

We tried both vegan sandwiches; one with avocado & hummus, and one with pesto-tofu and lemon-almond paste. Both also have algae paste and a variety of vegetables. The bread itself is very tasty, but the sandwiches were not very big. The filling of both sandwiches are nice, specially the tofu is interesting with the spices. They did taste a bit the same though, probably since a lot of ingredients were the same.

Sandwich at Biofred
Avocado sandwich with a cute heart-shaped bun ❤

For drinks we had a smoothie and a fresh-pressed juice. The strawberry smoothie included, besides strawberries, apple, banana, ginger and fig, on a base of rice- almond milk and the Jus-Jitsu contains apple, kiwi, fig and ginger. Both are fine, but not very special. Also they were served in plastic cups, which was a bit strange. Especially since the cutlery and plates were not plastic.

Drinks at Biofred
Jus-jitsu and smoothie

I have to say the service was not spectacular. While the staff member was very nice, she was on her own and she was very occupied by  a (regular?) customer. After a while it got very busy with people getting take-out, I noticed quite a line developed. We had to wait quite some time for our food, even though we were the only people, apart from one other person. I mean, this is not a fast-food place where you expect your food within 5 min, but especially for the soup and plate, which were already made, it was a bit strange.

Outside biofred

Overall I liked the food. Biofred is one of the few bio-eateries that is open on Saturday. Most vegan/bio-places are only open during the week. However, it was pretty expensive for what you get. The food was made with attention to detail, and of course they use biological products (and that special water) so that is the reason why I guess. Bio-oriented/vegan places, often tend to give small portions, at least in Switzerland. Still, I think it is good to mention.

Type of place: Biological/health shop and café
Completely vegan: no

Website (French): http://biofred.com/

Veganaki (Athens, Greece)

Bar at Veganaki

During my holidays in Athens we were staying conveniently close to an all-vegan place! I swear I didn’t plan it, but nevertheless it was a nice coincidence. Might as well use the opportunity to check it out, right?

Veganaki serves classic Greek street food – in vegan form. They are open the whole day, so you can pop in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between. Veganaki serves coffee, tea, juices, beer and wine, pita wraps, sandwiches, salads, traditional savoury pies in several flavours and sweets. There are several gluten-free options available as well.

Freddo cappuccino at Veganaki
Freddo cappuccino

The café itself is quite small, there are some spaces inside and a nice terrace. However, the terrace is close to a busy street, so for seasoned big-city dwellers, or in the early morning when there’s less traffic. Inside the atmosphere is calm and cosy. The menu is available both in Greek and in English. They use fair trade coffee, and disposable and biodegradable packaging.

Cake at Veganaki
Cake with raisins!

I visited Veganaki twice, first to just check out the place and get some coffee and a piece of cake.  We tried a “freddo cappuccino”, a variation of Greek cold coffee. Freddo cappuccino is cold, foamed (plant) milk over espresso and ice. The freddo espresso is just the espresso over ice. Both of these are different from frappé, which is normally made of instant coffee. With the coffee we had a piece of home made cake with raisins. I really enjoyed the cake, the texture was very nice and fluffy.

Breakfast at Veganaki
The full breakfast table!

We returned another day to Veganaki to try the breakfast options. We had a toast with vegan cheese and tomato, a piece of courgette pie and a “lachanoulis” pita. The pita wraps and traditional pies can also be served as plates, including additional salad for a small surcharge. For drinks we had an orange juice and a mixed fruit juice, gottta work on those vitamins after all 🙂

The toast was basic and a bit dry, but that is also just the nature of toast.  The other toasts available are more common in vegan cafes; with hummus or avocado. I wanted to try the tomato-cheez version, since I used to eat those myself quite often, and they are a bit more special. I mean, vegan sandwich without hummus are pretty rare! (No hate for hummus, I love that stuff! But it is a bit of a vegan default option)

Savoury courgette pie and toasty at Veganaki
Tomato-cheez toast and a piece of courgette savoury pie

The courgette traditional pie was very nice, it was not too dry and not too soggy, good consistency. The lachanoulis pita; a pita wrap with home-made vegetable burgers, tomato, lettuce, mustard and home made vegan tzatziki, was good too. The sauce inside was just slightly spicy, which went well with the vegetable filling.

Pita wrap at Veganaki
Pita wrap! Filled with home made vegetable fritters, veggies and sauces

I really liked Veganaki, the atmosphere is nice, the food is good and very reasonably priced (especially for people travelling from Switzerland :D) and the staff is very friendly!

Toasty at Veganaki
Sunny breakfast in Athens ❤
Type of place: Greek vegan street food
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website  : https://www.facebook.com/VeganakiGR/

 

Takinoa (Nyon, Switzerland)

takinoa_entrance

Takinoa is a Swiss chain of restaurants, founded in 2013.  They are located in the cantons of Geneva and Vaud.  The name ‘Takinoa’ is a combination of the Greek “taki”, meaning speed, combined with ‘no’, so ‘no speed’ or slow. It is also a play on the pronunciation of the word ‘quinoa’, a famed super food. Additionally, their slogan is “food for joy”. Takinoa focuses of food which is good for the consumer, but also the environment. They use local, preferably organic, seasonal and biological products. But they also limit the amount of sugar and salt added to the food. More than half of the dishes they serve are gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian. There is also some choice in vegan dishes.

Refrigerator at Takinoa
Available food in the fridge; vegan, vegetarian, lactose- and gluten-free labelled

There is a changing menu, with juices, smoothies, salads, wrap, desserts, and (hot) bowls. The food itself is pre-made, packaged and refrigerated. For each item it is clearly listed if it is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-or lactose-free. They do use recycled plastic, but still it seems a bit wasteful, especially with the environmental message. The food that gets reheated is packaged in glass.

Cookies at Takinoa
Vegan cookies and energy balls at the bar

So you pick the food from the refrigerator, then you pay at the counter. You can also order the daily soup and drinks there. On the counter is also an assortment of cookies and cakes. There were even a few vegan cookies! When applicable the food is heated by the staff, and brought to you together with any drinks you ordered. After eating, you put your tray and the boxes, cutlery and bowls in the correct place. The procedure, and even the bowls reminded me of N & Co by Quinte & Sens. Service was less traumatic here fortunately.

Interior at Takinoa
Water is available for free

That is how it works, now what did we eat! I planned to visit Takinoa for a while, since I had the idea there was a lot of vegan stuff since I had been told it was all vegetarian. When I arrived, I found out that was not really the case. Takinoa mentions on their site that 70% of their food is vegetarian and 20% vegan, and that seemed about right with what I saw. I was happy to see that there were some vegan desserts, and the vegan dishes available were not only salads 🙂

Food at Takinoa
Pumpkin soup with bread, mango lassi, quinoa bowl and soba noodle salad

 

We tried the pumpkin soup, a quinoa bowl, a soba noodle salad and two desserts. I also had a small mango lassi (vegan, made with almond milk and curcuma) but I have to report it was not that great, it didn’t really have the mango taste I expected. The pumpkin soup was nice and thick, served with a generous piece of rustic bread. I do think the soup needed some more seasoning, but I guess this falls in line with the idea of Takinoa using less salt.

Noodle salad at Takinoa
Soba noodle salad with prunes, veggies and nuts. To the left the dressing we picked with it

The quinoa bowl was served warm, or rather flaming hot. Eat carefully! The bowl contained, apart from the quinoa, apple, carrot, some other seasonal vegetables, and balsamic vinegar. It was nice, the apple gave a natural sweetness to the dish. The soba noodle salad was very tasty, it had edamame beans, prunes, broccoli, a few sweet potato pieces, some mushrooms, salad and several types of seeds. We could choose our own dressing for the salad, but there was already some in the dish itself.

Apple crumble at Takinoa
Apple crumble dessert!

We tried two desserts;  an apple crumble with cinnamon and pistachio and a pudding-y dessert with Matcha tea and steamed pear. The apple crumble was just apple sauce with some crumble on top…a bit disappointing. The pudding was nicer, it was topped with goji berries, and had a very interesting texture.

Pudding dessert at Takinoa
Matcha pudding with steamed pear and goji berries

Afterwards, I had a coffee with a vegan cookie. The cookie was a bit salty, it went quite well with coffee. They also have vegan ‘energy balls’.

Coffee at Takinoa
Coffee with plant-milk and a cookie

Overall the food was okay, but a bit on the expensive side. If you take-out, the food it is a bit cheaper.

Type of place: health food
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): http://takinoa.com/

Athens – Miscellaneous

A slightly different format today! Normally I write about a single place but today we’ll do a round-up with short reviews!  I was in Athens a few weeks ago, and I visited a bunch of  different food places. I didn’t get enough material to create a full post for all of them. Still, I want to give a shout-out to all the good food I had!

Greece is not really a place that is known to be very vegan-friendly, since the food is heavy on the meat and feta, but Athens is great for vegans! There’s a bunch of really good vegetarian/vegan-only places. I wrote about a few (Cookoomela Grill ,Avocado) and there are some more posts in my draft folder waiting to be uploaded! But also at the street food places, like Kumpirista, and more ‘traditional’ eateries, like Tivoli, you can get some good vegan food. There are some traditional Greek vegan dishes, for example, dolmades (rice-stuffed vine-leaves) and spanakorizo (spinach with rice), which are often vegan.

Graffiti in Athens

Street food

 

Oven Sesame:

Oven Sesame is a street food place found in two locations in Athens. The location I visited had no space to sit inside, but a small terrace in front. They serve stuffed sesame pita, salads, sides, sweets, breakfast and juices. The vegan options are clearly marked on the menu. I tried the vegan pita, which is stuffed with grilled vegetables and pink tahini sauce, with a side of potato wedges and a lemonade. Very good!

Vegan food at Oven Sesame
Fruit smoothie, vegan sesame pita, potato wedges and pink tahini dip

Website: http://oven-sesame.com/

Kumpirista:

Home of the kumpir (baked potato )!  I spotted this place because it was next to Cookoomela Grill! Kumpir are a popular type of fast-food in Turkey (Greece and Turkey influenced each other greatly).  The (huge) potatoes are baked in an oven, cut open, partially mashed and filled with all types of toppings such as herbs, sauces and vegetables. Generally the base recipe contains butter but this is subbed for olive oil in the vegan version. The vegan kumpir on the menu is served with couscous, black beans, olives, carrots, salad, aubergine and ketchup. But you can also create your own version with the available toppings.

Kumpir at Kumpirista
Vegan baked potato with allll the toppings!

Website: https://www.facebook.com/Kumpirista-874884449329618/

 

Lukumades

Lukumades are traditional Greek sweets. Also called ‘Greek doughnuts’,  lukumades are deep-fried dough balls served in sauce. Vegan options are not marked on the menu, but ask and the staff will tell you. When I visited there were several options, like powdered sugar, dark chocolate and peanut butter sauce. I tried the peanut butter and powdered sugar version…it is so good! The place itself is pretty popular, they also serve ice cream and milkshakes, but I don’t think those are vegan.

Lukumades
Lukumades in peanut butter sauce and with powder sugar

Website (Greek, English): http://lukumades.com/

Acropolis in Athens

Restaurants/Bars

 

Tivoli

A restaurant/bar with live music, which has been around since 1974. We arrived quite early (for Greek standards) so the place was quite empty still, but it seems to be quite popular usually. We actually ended up there by accident when looking for the vegetarian restaurant called Trivoli…it was a happy accident though because those dolmades were indeed *chefs kiss* They were served warm, which was interesting since dolmades are usually served cold. They were made according to an authentic Greek recipe passed down generations. Also serves a great eggplant dip!

Starters at Tivoli
Dolmades, eggplant dip and tasty bread

Website (Greek): http://tivoli-live.gr/

 

Yiasemi

Plaka is a pedestrian area, with a lot of stairs, and a lot of bars and restaurants. It is very cute and not just for tourists. In fact, this tearoom/restaurant was recommended to me by a Greek colleague! Yiasemi is a super cute café, with a terrace and an inside sitting area. They serve drinks, snacks, food and desserts. There were several vegan snacks and some possibly vegan foods, but unfortunately when we visited they were out of a lot of stuff, like the dolmades. We tried some roasted bread with olives and grilled vegetables, which was good. The atmosphere of the place is great! Perfect to unwind after a long day of touristing about in Athens.

Snacks and drinks at Yiasemi
Seasonal fruit lemonade, coffee, snacks and a cute & cosy atmosphere

Website (English) : https://www.yiasemi.gr/

Nefis (Geneva, Switzerland)

Interior at Nefis
I guess the colourful cows and milk cans are for the frozen yoghurt part of the shop…the display shows the packaged Turkish foods

A few weeks ago I passed a small café that sold both frozen yoghurt and authentic Turkish food. I was immediately intrigued because I like to try authentic food from different regions (as long as it is vegan of course!) and it is difficult to find authentic Middle-Eastern food here. (Also frozen yoghurt and authentic Turkish food seemed like a strange combination to me, if I am missing something please let me know!)

Drinks at Nefis
Interesting sour cherry drink

Nefis is very small, I think they do mostly catering and take-out. There is some space to sit inside, and there is a terrace as well. When we visited there were several vegan dishes available to choose from: lentils, hummus, dolmas (rice-stuffed vine leaves), a carrot dish and tabbouleh. The food is pre-made and packaged. They also sell some interesting drinks.

nefis_interior

We tried the carrot dish and some dolma. The carrot dish has garlic and it has an almost sweet flavour. The dolma are very delicately spiced- a dash of cinnamon gave a very interesting taste. The food was served with Turkish bread – not the standard flat bread but similar.

Food at Nefis
Dolma and carrot-garlic dish

We finished with coffee, unfortunately we didn’t get the Turkish coffee! I think they do serve it but you have to explicitly ask for it. However, the coffee is served with a Lotus Biscoff cookie…which is vegan 😉

Bread at Nefis
Turkish bread

I really liked the food at Nefis, but still the concept of both the frozen yoghurt and the Turkish authentic food is a bit strange. Additionally, there is very little information about them or their menu online. The staff was very nice, and the overall experience was pleasant.

Interior at Nefis
Colourful chairs
Type of place: Frozen Yoghurt, Turkish catering/café
Completely vegan: no

Website (French): https://www.facebook.com/pg/nefiscuisine/