Vegana Indiana (Vienna, Austria)

VeganaIndiana_interior

Vegana Indiana is a vegan, gluten-free and dog-friendly bar/restaurant in Vienna, so you can go for coffee and cakes, and also for a full meal. The decorations are natural with a rough edge, with wooden accents and a lot of plants. They play pop music, which makes for an interesting contrast. There is also a terrace, and they do take-away.

Cupcakes at Vegana Indiana
Vegan cupcakes

We initially went in for a coffee and a small snack, but after seeing the menu card we really wanted to try a full-size dish because the food looked very interesting!  The dishes are original, and they use a lot of local ingredients. The menu also states common allergens that might be present in a dish, something I have noticed in other Viennese restaurants as well.

VeganaIndiana_interior3

We shared a dish of Gary (vegan cheese**) and potatoes which was served with cranberries and vegan mayonnaise. The potatoes are nice and crispy and the vegan cheese is very tasty.  We also got a small (gluten-free!) piece of bread with it, which was tasty.

Gary with potatoes at Vegana Indiana
“Gary” or vegan cheese, with baked potatoes, cranberries and vegan mayonnaise

I also tried ice coffee with almond milk, which has actual ice cream!

Ice coffee at Vegana Indiana
Ice coffee

For dessert we tried a pancake with jam (tasty, not very special), and a ‘marillenknödel’, a dumpling with apricot. These dumplings are quite specific to the Austrian and Czech cuisine. They are formed from dough, a whole apricot is put inside, then they are boiled in salted water and covered with bread crumbs and powdered sugar.  I never had one before so I didn’t know what to expect. They are not very sweet, the dough was a bit soft and crumbly. Not sure if it is my new favourite pastry, but I am glad to have been able to try this traditional Viennese dish!

Marillenknodel at Vegana Indiana
Marillenknödel, apricot dumpling

So yes, great place, can recommend! One downside: Only cash accepted! (Though this is something that seems a bit more common in Vienna)

Pancake dessert at Vegana Indiana
Pancake with jam; a classic
Type of place: vegan and gluten-free restaurant, take-away
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (German) : http://www.vegana-indiana.at

American Dream Diner (Geneva, Switzerland)

Bar at American Dream Diner
Step into a time machine

Stepping into the American Dream Diner in Geneva is like being transported to the USA in the 50ties. The chrome, the benches, the jukeboxes! Personally, it reminds me of the game Fallout. The American Dream Diner is inspired by old American Diners, and provides, as they call it, an escape from today’s complex world. While I don’t think life was more easy at that time, stepping into the Dream Diner is like stepping in a time capsule. But with vegan options! The interior is the real deal, imported from the US.

Interior at American Dream Diner

American Dream Diner can be found in Geneva, and soon they will open a second location in Geneva, and open in Nyon and Lausanne as well! There is also a small shop attached which sells American foodstuffs like Pop-tarts, non-food like magazines, but there is also a selection of for example Canadian items (also online: http://www.americanmarket.ch/)

Table at American Dream Diner
Paper straws in the background

The Diner serves ‘typical’ American food, like burgers, fries and hot dogs and they have vegan options for all the burgers! They can substitute both the patty and the cheese with a plant-based alternative. The patties are made in-house and are composed of among others wheat and soy. Also the hot dogs and Mexican Chili can be made vegan.  Interestingly they also serve salads, and those are not vegan. (Though I am sure you can ask for them to be made vegan)

Snacks at American Dream Diner
Fries, Onion rings with vegan dip, and chili fries with vegan cheese

So yes, there was a lot to try! We started with the onion rings, served with a vegan sauce and two types of fries, the American and chili “cheese” fries. The fries are nice and thick, the portions reasonable. We tried both the BBQ burger and the classic cheese burger in vegan form. The burgers are pretty big, and taste good, a bit mushroom-y I would say.

Vegan Cheese burger at American Dream Diner
‘Cheese’ burger

To be honest, while the burgers tasted slightly different from each other (because different sauces were used) it was not really outspoken. I think this is because the vegan patties are the same and the difference between these two burgers is rather due to the type of cheese and the addition of bacon in the BBQ burger. Maybe the non-vegan counterparts also taste similar, I cannot really judge that 🙂

Food at American Dream Diner

There are also special drinks served like floats and milkshakes. Unfortunately these are not vegan.  There are also no vegan desserts.

The service was very good, the staff was very kind and helpful when it came to explaining the available vegan options. Also, they actually mentioned that they had no vegan desserts, which was quite thoughtful. Usually when I go somewhere, even if it is clear that I am vegan, I will be offered the dessert card even if there is nothing vegan on there. So extra points from me for this.

Interior at American Dream Diner
Even the bill is brought in style! Dunno if the candy is vegan though…

I really want to go back to the Diner ! The food was good, the atmosphere great, and I want to test out the vegan hot dogs as well!

Type of place:  American diner
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (French, English) : http://www.americandreamdiner.com/

Akakiko (Vienna, Austria)

Akakiko entrance

 

Akakiko is a chain restaurant in Austria which serves ‘easy Japanese fusion’. The interior has a Japanese and modern feel, with modern music. The location we happened to visit had the interesting feature that the bathroom was situated outside of the restaurant (which was located in a residential building) Of course not relevant to the food, but it stood out.

Haramuki at Akakiko
Haramuki; japanese ‘spring rolls’

The place was pretty busy when we were there, with a pretty diverse crowd. We happened to be near the Stephansdom, which is in the touristy centre of Vienna. There were several tourists (like us!) but I think there were also actual Viennese lunchers. It is definitely more of a bistro than a fancy restaurant, which is also reflected in the prices. They also do take-out and delivery.

Gyoza at Akakiko
Vegetable gyoza ! Btw those are not shrimps on the table, that is just the table mat…it is a bit unfortunate

Akakiko serves several vegan dishes, which are clearly marked on the menu card. At the back of the menu card there is even a small section where all vegan dishes are grouped together. Most of the vegan options are the starters and smaller dishes, like sushi, but there is also a vegan main. The menu is quite large and it was a bit unclear how much a portion is especially for the starters and side dishes.

Kabechu at Akakiko
Loved this cabbage salad!

Good thing we were hungry, so we decided to just try a bunch of dishes. For starters we had a kabechu salad (cabbage salad), fried rice mix, vegetable gyoza and harumaki (Japanese spring rolls). The kabechu salad was really nice and refreshing, a bit spicey. The gyoza were very nice, crispy and delicate, filled with rice and vegetables. It was served with a spicy sauce. The menu says you get 6 but we got 7, which is also okay! The harumaki had a similar filling and were also very nice, not too oily. The fried rice mix is really almost a complete dish, not really a side or a starter.

Fried rice at Akakiko
Fried rice with some sushi in the background

For mains we wanted to try the yasai sushi and spicey veg (complete dish) And we got them while we were still eating the starters, which was a bit annoying as the table space was quite limited.

Yasai sushi at Akakiko
Yasai: a mix of maki and sushi. Interesting choice of vegetables!

The yasai sushi is a combination of vegetable sushi and maki. The vegetables used, like broccoli, made it quite interesting. The taste was okay, but a bit dry. The spicy veg dish consists of rice with vegetables and mushrooms in a spicy Chilli-Soy sauce. I didn’t think it was very special but it hit the spot.

Spicy veg at Akakiko
Spicy veg; one of the mains

Akakiko serves vegan desserts! I find that many traditional Japanese sweets are actually vegan, but many Japanese restaurants tend to serve “western-style” desserts. Which is a shame, because I love Japanese desserts. At Akakiko we tried the mochi dessert: a rice cake with filling which was served with melon. The mochi was nice and soft, the taste of the filling was not very strong, in a pleasant way.  They also serve “apple gyoza”, which was a similar dough as the vegetable gyoza but filled with apple.  The combination of apple with the crispy gyoza was very good! It reminded me a bit of apple pie (unsurprisingly)

Mochi dessert at Akakiko
Mochi and melon

 

The food was okay, I especially loved the kabechu salad and the gyoza.  The service was unfortunately quite sloppy. We somehow got all our food at once, both the starters and the mains. One of our dishes was forgotten (we got it quickly after reminding the server). And then the desserts were served one after the other, with enough time to finish one dessert and wait around for the next one, which was very strange.

Gyoza at Akakiko
Apple-stuffed gyoza
Type of place: Japanese Fusion restaurants
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (German) :  https://akakiko.at/

 

Sajna (Geneva, Switzerland)

From this blog it might seem I go out for food a lot. While that is not entirely true (as  I have mentioned before 🙂 ) I don’t often revisit the same restaurants because I keep seeing new, interesting places I want to try.  But one of the few restaurants I have visited several times was not even on my blog! Until today, that is.

Interior at Sajna

The first time I went to Sajna, I had recently moved to Geneva, and I was supposed to meet some former colleagues for dinner. They asked me to pick a place because they were a bit unsure what places serve vegan food ! (If only my blog had existed at that time :D) Since I hadn’t visited any restaurants in Geneva yet, I decided to randomly pick an Indian restaurant (because I like Indian food) that was conveniently located. That is how I found Sajna! Of course I checked the menu online, which seemed promising. When I called to make a reservation, I asked about their vegan options, and I was assured that there was plenty of vegan food available. I was not disappointed!

Interior at Sajna

Sajna serves Bengali (eastern India/Bangladesh) dishes, and the more typical Indian restaurant dishes. What is kind of interesting is they have another branch of this restaurant in Bangladesh, which existed there before the Geneva location.

Appetizer at Sajna
Appetizer of papadums with 3 sauces (2 of which are vegan)

The interior is kind of typical Indian restaurant style. There are two rooms and a small terrace outside. However, the terrace is on a very noisy street, so that is not ideal. As often in Indian restaurants we got a papadum with 3 sauces for appetizer. Two of the sauces are vegan (the tamarind and the spicy chutney), and the other is with yogurt.

As mentioned there are plenty of vegetarian dishes, and some of those are vegan. In most cases, in the description on the menu it will say clearly whether the dish will have cream or paneer (cheese) but it won’t hurt to ask. The staff will happily sub non-vegan items like cream if requested. Another nice thing is that Sajna has vegan chapati (flat bread) !

Starters at Sajna
Mixed pakora (left) and samosa

We started with samosa and mixed pakora. The samosa have a nice shape, a sturdy dough exterior and are filled with slightly spicy potato mash. There are several types of pakora on the menu; you can also order just a set of one type but choosing is hard:), so we went for the mixed pakora and you get one of each type.  (In the menu description it says that it is a mixture of the potato, aubergine, cauliflower and onion pakora, but since there is also a paneer pakora, it won’t hurt to explicitly mention that you don’t want that one)

Mains at Sajna
Baighan bartha (left) and mixed vegetable korma with coconut milk. On the side safran rice and basmati rice. Not pictured: chapati

One of my favourite Indian dishes is the baigan bharta: grilled aubergine with tomatoes. This version is a little bit spicey, but so so good. We also got this time the mixed vegetable korma, which is normally not vegan (made with cream) but was made with coconut milk and cashews upon request. The coconut milk was pretty present in the taste and creaminess of the dish. It was naturally a bit sweet, and went well with the vegetables in the sauce. We also got chapati and rice with it.

Baighan Bartha at Sajna
Baighan bartha ❤

The service at Sajna is very good. They actually mention on their website that they are very willing to accommodate specific needs. It is always better to mention this upon reserving. But this time we didn’t reserve and they still made us the special korma sauce (it was not very busy when we were there, else we would probably not have asked it) Another time, when I did make a reservation beforehand,  I asked about dessert options and they actually prepared a dessert for me (kheer; a rice pudding with coconut milk)

So in summary, good food, great service, will visit again 🙂

Type of place: Indian Restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: upon request 🙂
Website (French, English) :http://www.sajna-restaurant.com/

Amici Miei (Versoix, Switzerland)

Outside of Amici Miei
Daily menu outside

Amici Miei, “my friends” is a cute Italian restaurant in Versoix. The restaurant is large, and the style is quite casual with typical bistro-like chequered table cloths and photos of Italian film scenes on the walls. It is very family-style and inviting.

Interior at Amicie Miei

There is a small terrace outside as well. However, since it was pouring rain the evening we visited Amici Miei for dinner, we opted to sit inside. It is very busy, and while I initially assumed it would be more of a place for locals, I think I overheard some tourists as well. Amici Miei also do take-out, at least for the pizza’s.

Table at Amici Miei
Ready for some pasta!

 

From the online menu I had already spotted some potentially vegan dishes (always research before!) Our waiter was also really helpful and accommodating. For example, there are several salads for starters for which they could prepare a vegan dressing instead of the creamy dressing.

We chose an antipasti plate for two, bread and a plate of grilled vegetables: aubergine, tomato, artichokes, mushroom and bell peppers. It was tasty, but a bit too oily for my taste.

Antipasti at Amici Miei
Antipasti of grilled veggies with bread

There are several vegan mains available, such as Penne al Arrabbiata and pizzas which could be made vegan. We had the Spaghetti Napolitaine, spaghetti with a tomato sauce, (which would normally come with Parmesan to the side) and a Pizza San Nicoa, a pizza with grilled eggplant and artichokes without mozzarella. The spaghetti was very nice, but also very hot and the portion was enormous!

Spaghetti Napolitaine at Amici Miei
Enormous bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce !

The pizza has a nice thin crust, and was quite tasty. It was also heart-shaped which was a bit unnecessary in my opinion. The pizza was not as gargantuan as the spaghetti (fortunately).

Pizza at Amici Miei
Still not sure what to think of a heart-shaped pizza…taste was good though

Now to the surprising part. There are vegan desserts! Sorbet ice, in big scoops and a special dessert:  ‘carpaccio ‘ of caramelised pineapple with basil and passion fruit ice. It comes with a small waffle, which is probably vegan but I am not sure.

Vegan dessert at Amici Miei
Pine apple carpaccio with basil-passion fruit sorbet

The staff is very nice, knowledgeable and willing to adapt dishes to make them vegan. The atmosphere is nice and casual. Conclusion: I would love to go again to try some of the other pizzas and the other vegan dishes! I might ask for a normal-shaped pizza though 🙂

 

Type of place: Italian Restaurant, Bistro
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (French): https://www.amicimiei-versoix.ch/

Persepolis (Geneva, Switzerland)

Sometimes you go out for food and the enthusiasm of the staff lifts the whole experience. Sometimes there is a lack of enthusiasm and you have an okay or good time, either way. I  lived in Paris, I am totally okay with non-bubbly waiters.

And sometimes the enthusiasm overwhelms you, and you end up with a confusing experience. Guess what happened when I had lunch at Persepolis?

 

Of course it is the last one. Normally I only write about the service if it is very good or bad, but in the case of my recent lunch at Persepolis the service kinda overrode the whole event. Not that the food wasn’t good, because it was. But I had the most confusing restaurant experience in a few years. For one I have no idea what I ate, except that it was vegan, and I didn’t think I got what I actually tried to order!  In fact, I barely managed to order in the first place.

Interior at Persepolis
Like the art on the wall here

So let’s start at the beginning! Persepolis is an Iranian/Persian restaurant in Geneva. I think they just moved to a new location, so it was a bit messy. There is a terrace but it was busy so we opted to sit inside. The waiter turned off the TV upon our request, so there is something (seriously, once I ate at a place where the owner was watching a soccer game on the big screen. Talk about great ambiance…) On the menu there are several vegan options, we were told, for both mains and starters. They are not marked, by the way. And from what I could see of the “10 different vegan salads” about 2 were probably actually vegan. They also had dolmas which are usually vegan. Also for the mains there were also several dishes that seemed to be vegan.

Drinks at Persepolis
My drink is so vegan!

 

I may or may not have eaten one of the dishes from the menu. When I inquired about a specific dish,  the waiter insisted I try something special from the chef. The dish I wanted to try from the menu was supposed to come with tomatoes and rice. I tried to order 2 vegan dishes, as I was with my husband, and the waiter thought I was trying to order 2 dishes for myself, since unfortunately the waiter kept assuming my husband would try a meat dish.  I tried to clarify that I wanted the one special and the one from the menu, but in the end we got two “chef specials” (I think). I found out that I didn’t get the dish I actually ordered when the dish I got was not served with the tomatoes as it was advertised on the menu. But something more fancy, according to the waiter, and thus pricey, which I found out when I got the bill.

Mushroom stew at Persepolis
Rice with saffron and mushroom stew

The food we actually got was rice with two different stews. The food came out very fast, which made me wonder how “specially made” for us it really was. Normally the rice is served with butter, but we had it without, of course. One of the stews had tomatoes and aubergine, which was nice. The other was mushroom-based, and was very creamy and nicely spiced. The food was definitively good. The portions were reasonable in size.

persepolis_dish1
Rice with eggplant stew

There were no desserts left when we were there, just ice creams. I don’t know if they would have something vegan, since I didn’t have a lot of time to actually look on the menu.

When the bill came I found out we were billed more than we expected. Upon inquiry we got ‘a special dish’ that was supposedly more expensive but that we supposedly got a discount for. It was not much more expensive but still weird.

 

A thing that really did bother me was that the waiter kept trying to push a meat dish on my husband,  even after he had said several times he wasn’t interested. The waiter even showed some meat dish that he was bringing to another customer to ask if my husband was ‘sure’ which is pretty bizarre. I think it had to do with the fact that I ordered the food (as I am the better French speaker) which obviously meant I was oppressing my poor husband. It was kind of painful.

Interior at Persepolis
Pretty decorations

So to summarize, the service was pretty intense. Too intense for me personally.  I had no clue if the dish I had was actually on the menu. I would have liked to try one of the vegan starters. The food itself was good, but not so great that I am willing to overlook the extra price tag. Of course I could have spoken up more, but when I go to a restaurant to review, I try to take the service and the food ‘as is’. I am a quite assertive person, but since the waiter was so happy and excited I decided to go for it. Still I am not sure if I was got ripped off, or if the waiter genuinely was trying to give us the best his place had to offer.

 

Type of place: Iranian/Persian Restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: maybe

Website (?)  : https://www.facebook.com/ResPersepolis/

 

Spinoza (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)

Spinoza sign outside
“The best bistro of the Netherlands!”

 

I was told about Spinoza, an eatery in Leeuwarden, by a dear friend. Spinoza is ‘vegan-friendly’, which means in this case they have a fully vegan menu! With desserts!

Apart from serving dinner, they do theatre nights, have (vegan) high teas, do take-out, etc. Additionally Spinoza was chosen (by a TV show I believe) to be the best bistro of the whole of the Netherlands ! Of course I needed to check it out. I went with said dear friend (who is non-vegan) to do some fabric shopping and some gastronomic exploration.

Interior of Spinoza
Casual and rustic interior

Spinoza is housed in a beautiful old building. Apart from the large room inside, there is a terrace, and a patio. Spinoza prides itself on being welcoming, and I found the atmosphere is indeed nice, casual, warm, and inviting. As appetizers we got some peanuts, and then we had to make some tough choices.

The vegan menu has 6 starters, 4 mains and 5 desserts. They actually use some interesting ingredients like fake cheeses, and other soy substitutes. To me this is interesting, because apart from some fully vegan places (like the VJFB), seeing ‘vegan cheese’ is not that common in the Netherlands. Though with the introduction of new vegan pizza’s at  Domino’s and New York pizza, this might change **!

Lentil fritters at Spinoza
Lentil fritters

 

And all the food on the menu sounded delicious and quite different from what is often offered.  For example, one of the starters is melon soup, another starter is a sweet potato fritter with soy yoghurt sauce.  In the end I went with the lentil fritters, which were served with a chilli sauce. They were presented in a nice way, and very tasty!

Vegan Lasagne at Spinoza
Vegan lasagne, with fake cheese !

For my main I was heavily doubting between the vegan lasagne and the “Seitan Wellington”, which I guess is a variation on a “beef Wellington”. I changed last moment to take the lasagne, which comes with “Cheddar”. The lasagne is served with a crunchy salad, and the portion is huge! You won’t leave this place hungry!

Side salad at Spinoza
Salad that came with the lasagne

More importantly, the lasagne is delicious, the “cheese” was melted and very nice. My friend took some non-vegan dish, but the sides that came with her food were in fact vegan: tasty baked potatoes, some rhubarb compote which I liked a lot, and some broccoli with curry sauce (which I didn’t particularly like).  My friend also got some fries, which were served with vegan mayonnaise. (I helped her eat them, no worries)

Side dishes at Spinoza
Vegan sides!

Somehow I kept some room for dessert. I had the apple strudel, which is served with speculaas ice cream with home-made soy whipped cream. Not surprisingly, very tasty! They also offer a crème brûlée, which I really want to try next time. It was the speculaas ice-cream that swayed me!

Apple strudel at Spinoza
Apple strudel with speculaas ice cream and soy whipped cream

I really loved the concept, the atmosphere and the food, and the staff is super nice too! I obviously had a lot of questions, about the “cheese” (I got a bit nervous because they say they are vegan-friendly and then put cheddar on the menu…) and how they made the whipped cream…I mean, as a vegan you become slightly paranoid when you see these things, since it doesn’t specify on the menu that they items are not made of dairy !

I also found the prices very reasonable, especially for what you get. I cannot wait to go back!

 

Type of place: Bistro, High-tea, Take-out, etc
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (Dutch) : http://eetcafespinoza.nl/ 

**