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/

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/

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/

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/

 

Taco Rico (Geneva, Switzerland)

Sign outside Taco Rico

Fresh, quick, authentic, delicious. That is how Taco Rico, a TexMex bistro in Geneva (at two locations) describes themselves. I cannot vouch for the third point, but the rest seems very much true.

Interior at Taco Rico

A while ago I wrote about the Burrito Brothers and there are some interesting parallels between the origin stories of both these places. The Burrito Brothers was founded by two Mexican-born, California-raised brothers. Taco Rico was inspired by a Swiss person staying in New York, who, after eating a delicious Mexican meal, decides to open a Mexican restaurant in Geneva since such a thing didn’t exist yet. The staff at Taco Rico was trained by a Mexican chef, and all food is home-made. The founders’ family also work in the restaurant.

Taco Rico
Ingredients for the filling the tacos

The ambiance of the place is quite nice, with cheerful 80s-90s music (a tad loud maybe). There is some nice art on the wall and comfortable seats. On the menu you can find the usual suspects; burritos (also available as salad), tacos, quesadillas and nachos. The nice thing is that for both the burrito and the taco a vegan *and* a vegetarian option is possible. Many burrito places offer just a vegetarian option!

Nachos with guacamole at Taco Rico
Nachos with guac because of course

When I visited I tried the vegan version of the burrito and the tacos, and nachos with guacamole. The filling is the same in both cases: basically everything that is available that is vegan, so rice, beans, corn, a bit of salad, tomato, onion, guacamole and peppers (you can pick & choose the ingredients as you prefer).  The spicy sauce is also optional, and there are several hot sauces available if you decide you need more spiciness. The burrito is pretty expertly wrapped, almost nothing fell out!

Burrito at Taco Rico
Expertly wrapped burrito with all the fillings

For drinks there are the soft-drinks, coffee, tea, beers and even Margarita’s. They serve some desserts, but nothing vegan.

Tacos at Taco Rico
Tacos!

Obviously, I cannot help but comparing Taco Rico with Burrito Brothers, since both places serve quite similar food at a similar price point. The variety of ingredients at the Burrito Brothers is larger, they have for example mushrooms as well, but they only have pre-defined combinations (obviously you can ask for stuff to be left out). For me, the big downside is that you have to pay (quite some) extra for guacamole, even if you leave out the cheese and sour cream from the vegetarian options.  Personally I preferred the ambiance at Taco Rico, it was just a bit less fast-foody, there is more space to sit and the chairs are more comfortable.

Hot sauces at Taco Rico
Need more spice?
Type of place:  Tex-mex Restaurant/take-out
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (French) : http://www.tacorico.ch/index.html

Be Kind Cafe (Geneva, Switzerland)

Exterior of Be Kind Cafe
Bio, vegan, home-made

This cute café in Geneva has opened only a few weeks ago! I had read about the opening of Be Kind Cafe, and since the initial opening coincided with a day I was off of work, I was excited to visit! Unfortunately, the opening was postponed due to water issues.  It took a while before I could visit, since they are only open during the week and I have a full-time job in another city. So when I finally had the chance to be in Geneva around lunchtime, of course I directly wanted to visit the Be Kind Cafe!

Counter at Be Kind Cafe
Cookies on the counter!

Be Kind Cafe offers breakfast foods, coffee and pastries, and lunch. There is a daily lunch menu, with some standard items but the exact ingredients are different per day, and change depending on the season and availability, since they use almost exclusively biological and local products. There are some larger dishes, like a burger and a savoury pie, and smaller foods like sandwiches and soups. For drinks there are juices, hot drinks like coffee and tea, but also wine and beer. You can eat in the café itself, but they also do take-away. The atmosphere of the café is very relaxed, it was quite spacious, hip and still cosy. A place to sit with a nice cup of coffee and a delicious vegan meal.

Inside the cafe
A relaxed, cosy atmosphere

When I visited I tried the daily bagel with a side of roasted potato wedges. The bagel was on the smaller side, and contained salad, roasted pumpkin, vegan ‘ricotta’ and almonds. The tastes went very well together! The bagel bread is very tasty and toasted rather than soft. The potatoes were well-seasoned, large, nice and crunchy.

Be kind Cafe food
Bagel with a side of potato

For a drink I tried the kefir with figs. I know kefir as a yogurt-product, but this was rather a fermented fruit juice.

Bagel close-up at Be Kind Cafe
The bagel was properly stuffed with vegetable goodness !

There are several desserts available, there are some standard on the menu but there are also some daily variations. I tried the apple crumble with oats, with vanilla ice cream on top. With it, a coffee of course 🙂 The crumble was great!

Dessert at Be Kind Cafe
Apple crumble with oats and vanilla ice cream

I really like the Be Kind Cafe, the food is good and service great! The only downside is that they are only open on weekdays. I really do have to get back one day for their breakfast menu though; vegan croissants! Also I’d love to try the vegan burger they offer. And the other cookies I didn’t try yet…so yes, I will be back 🙂

Type of place: breakfast, lunch, café
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): https://www.bekindcafe.ch/

N & Co by Quinte & Sens (Vevey, Switzerland)

netco_exterior

Quinte & Sens is a shop in Vevey which sells biological products. Attached to it is N&Co, a small café. The entrance to the shop is at on one side of the block, N&Co has its own entrance in a pedestrian area at the other side. (You can also pass through the shop to get to the café)

Food at N&Co
Vegan pastries and savoury snacks!

The café is small, with some seats inside and a small terrace. The food in N & Co is touted to be 100% vegetarian, gluten-free and lactose-free. They use a lot of local, and of course biological products.

There is a counter with some savoury items, a glass display with pastries and sandwiches, a small refrigerated area with pre-made and pre-packaged dishes and drinks, and a salad bar where you can compose your own salad. You order at the counter, pay, and they bring your food after heating it. N&Co does a lot of take-out too, from what I could see when I visited. It was quite busy actually.

Salad bar at N&Co
Salad bar

It was a bit unclear to me if they serve vegetarian or vegan-only food, but when we visited and asked, we were told all the food was vegan! We tried a piece of broccoli savoury pie, empanadas and a lentil salad (from the refrigerated area). All of those got heated (also the lentil salad…I guess it was not a salad 🙂 )  Unfortunately the reheating of the lentil salad was not very thorough, some parts were flaming hot and others were actually cold.  That is too bad since the salad itself was pretty tasty.

Lentil salad at N&Co
Lentil dish

I never really tasted empanadas until I visited New York, were I found a lot of vegan ones and I ate a ton of them. They are generally very tasty, so I was excited to try them! The empanadas at N&Co were okay but lacked a bit of spiciness to me. Maybe because I got used to the spicy NYC version 🙂

Empanadas at N&Co
Empanadas!

My absolute favourite was however the broccoli tart. Apart from broccoli it also has nuts, seeds and mushrooms, which added a nice, earthy taste.

For desserts we choose a prune pie (tarte aux prunes) and a muffin. I really like the prune pie, it was fresh, and not too sweet. The muffin is nice, but quite dense.

We got all the food at once, I guess because we ordered all at the same time. The food ordering process was …. chaotic. But I will talk more about that in a moment.

Food at N&Co
Piece of broccoli pie, prune tart and muffin

If you order food you can get some iced tea for free with it, but they also serve other drinks like juices. We decided to go with the tea (mostly because of aforementioned confusion, we were not comfortable ordering something else).

So, the service. I don’t like being negative, and I want to stress that this was a single visit. Most reviews I read online don’t mention the service at all, or say that it’s great so I think we just got unlucky. But I also want to be honest. The service in the café, when I visited, was not good. It was quite busy and there was only one staff member, so I understand he couldn’t keep up with the people. But the way he reacted was rude and borderline unstable.

When we arrived at N&Co the staff member was on the phone behind the counter.  Assuming he was busy we waited with ordering while checking out the food stuffs on display and trying to make a choice. It all looked good! While still on the phone, the staff member urged us to order anyway. The ordering process was very chaotic, we had to say several times what we wanted. So the moment I wanted to pay he quoted the price. But. He overcharged us by 60CHF (!!!), since he had mis-typed one of the prices(!). Even in Switzerland, that amount is ridiculous. This more than doubled our total ! And he didn’t blink at quoting us that price either.  I noticed the discrepancy and I refused to pay until he had given us the proper bill. He urged us to sit down and resolve it later, since it was busy. However, he was being very rude about it, and behaved erratically. We sat down, got the food. But it was uncomfortable. I am not saying customer is king, but we felt like we were inconveniencing this guy.

After eating our food I again tried to pay and this time we got the right price.  The staff member, now calmed down, apologised for the mix-up and we got our desserts comped because he screwed up before.

Tea at N&Co
Home made, unsweetened iced tea

So yeah, the food was great but the service made it hard to enjoy. It just felt uncomfortable.  If I am in Vevey I might pop by to see who is at the counter and order again. But I won’t go out of my way to visit. There are too many other good places!

Type of place:  café/lunch
Completely vegan:  ?
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (French) : http://quinte-et-sens.bio/