Friday, June 1, 2012

Vegan Brunch Options

The pleasures of a weekend brunch, preferably plein air and featuring mimosas, are many, but at a traditional brunch locale vegan options tend to be few. If you enjoy the savor and the ambiance of going out to brunch but eschew the ubiquitous omelette, here are my two favorite locales featuring a vegan brunch.

Caravan of Dreams, on 6th street, has a superb vegan brunch which runs late into the afternoon and offers both a prix fixe option which includes sangria and coffee, as well as several a la carte choices. Sweet and savory options are included, with a highlight in the former department being their vegan french toast with fresh fruit, and the latter being several choices of tofu scramble with different vegetables. The sangria is a rich and complex melange of fresh squeezed juices and organic fruit bits with a dash of wine, and they offer soy or almond milk with their coffee or tea. A host of smoothies with raw, exotic "superfoods" such as maca, acai, spirulina, young coconut, and cashew cream can be ordered on the side. Their menu is exclusively vegan, mostly organic, has many raw options, and many items, such as the almond milk and cashew cream, are made fresh on site. I've actually never been to Caravan of Dreams for dinner as I find their prices a bit high, but their prix fixe brunch is very reasonable and quite filling. Outdoor seating is available. 

I recently stumbled upon a second vegan brunch option, Mana, a farm-to-table restaurant on 91st and Amsterdam, which has a pesca-vegan general menu (vegan with options for wild fish) and an all-vegan brunch menu. Farm-to-table means that the majority of items come from small, local farms. All items in this brunch menu are a la carte, including the beverages, but mimosas and bellinis are offered, as well as a peanut-vanilla smoothie which was delicious and filling. Their wheat- and egg- free oatmeal waffle is filling, tasty, and unsweetened, and comes with a side of maple syrup and almond cream, as well as a few berries. Paired with a side of tempeh bacon, which is refreshingly neither greasy nor salty, this meal satisfies both the sweet and the savory palate.  The basil pesto tofu scramble with a side of tempeh bacon and a field green salad is also quite delectable. Brunch for two sans alcoholic beverages came to about 40 including tip, which is not bad for the Upper West Side. There was no outdoor seating, but the ambiance and decor were excellent. 

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