Restaurant Snapshot: Little Choc Apothecary Brooklyn, NY

We set the scene for this Restaurant Snapshot in a quaint little café overlooking the bustling streets of Brooklyn. Warm smells of freshly brewed tea and chocolaty smooth coffee beans waft in the air as the fresh atmosphere and décor wash over you. Little Choc Apothecary is such a calming and relaxing place to go grab brunch with a friend, sit and work for hours, or even just grab a quick lunch. This café produces some of the best crepes around, and trust me when I tell you, that you’d never guess they were a completely vegan and (almost) gluten free establishment.

This fact obviously only makes it better for me, but don’t go blabbing to your non-vegan friends just yet, in case they decide not to try them on principle. First, make them try the crepes and then when they fall in love with them, like I know they probably will, you can finally tell them the great news, theses buggers are totally vegan!

To be honest, I am a huge crepe fan; I’m a bit obsessed. But let’s be real, what isn’t there to love about crepes. They can be both savory and sweet, come on, that’s amazing! You can literally eat them for every meal, morning, noon and night, and I would totally do that! Wait a minute, this sounds like something I should actually try out one of these days, and soon. Anyway, I have always had trouble finding a crepe place that fit my dietary needs. Either the batter wasn’t gluten free/vegan or if the batter was all clear, there would be very few options for toppings and fillings, and what is a crepe really without the filling.

I was so excited when I happened to stumble upon this place during one of my frequent foursquare searches. Side note, foursquare is an awesome tool for finding restaurants and cafes. I can just type in my dietary restrictions, price point and location, then voilà it shows me tons of great options to choose from. I highly recommend checking it out the next time you’re in charge of picking a place to meet for food or drinks with friends.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, aka crepes.

Personally, I am a big fan of the savory crepe. Now, I’m well aware that I am probably in the minority here, but savory crepes are my jam guys. I do like sweet crepes too, but the majority of the time I go to The Little Choc Apothecary, I tend to gravitate towards their savory options.

The burrito and breakfast crepe are probably my two favorites that I have tried. Everything that I’ve gotten there has been great, but those stand out to me in terms of flavor and fillings. They both have mushroom bacon, which I will admit is one of my favorite things ever. The burrito crepe also has homemade cashew cheese sauce, which is amazing, guys seriously if I could just get a side of this sauce to drink, I totally would do it, it’s that good.

The breakfast burrito is pretty standard and a good tofu scramble is always tasty, but with the added crunch of the coconut bacon and cucumber, I know it seems strange, but it totally works, this crepe excels to a whole new level.

I have also had the ‘pizza’ and’ garden of eaten’ crepe, both very tasty, but just not my favorites. I am very interested in trying the ‘room for mushroom’ crepe because it sounds wonderful. Let’s get real though, I’m interested in eventually trying all of them, and I’m sure that I probably will very soon.

As far as the sweet crepes go, I’ve only ordered one, sorry dudes. I got my crepe filled with homemade vegan Nutella and strawberries and it was very tasty. They don’t have pre-made options for their sweet crepes like they do for their savory counterparts. Instead, you get to choose your own fillings and toppings. The first two toppings are free, and then it costs 50 cents per each additional item you add on after that.

Now, apothecary is part of the name for a good reason; they serve up an expansive array of loose-leaf teas, along with several specially crafted, medicinal blends.

Such as their sniffles blend that contains, feverfew, lemon balm, and hyssop. This will help clear up your fever and allergy symptoms.

They also make a digestion tea blend, to aid an upset stomach. This includes alfalfa, dandelion, ginger, and peppermint.

Afternoon tea is also offered on their menu, in both sweet and savory options. This includes a pot of tea, a scone with clotted cream and jam, 1 slice of cake and 2 cookies for the sweet option. For the savory, they offer a pot of tea, a scone with clotted cream and jam, a savory crepe and 2 cookies.

While they do offer other coffee and espresso based drinks, I suggest sticking to the loose-leaf tea options. They are unique and a special treat that you just can’t find everywhere, unlike these other café staples.

The Little Choc Apothecary is a whimsical and inviting space that serves up some damn good food. I highly recommend you check them out if you like crepes, tea and a nice place to chill for a few hours with friends or a good book.

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Restaurant Snapshot: Blossom du Jour New York, NY

I happened upon Blossom du Jour, by complete accident one day. I was early meeting a friend for lunch and she wasn’t ready yet, so I decided to walk around the block while I waited. It’s a good thing I did too, because as I looped around the block aimlessly, I stumbled upon this quaint little restaurant.

Blossom du Jour is a small chain of vegan fast food restaurants in New York City. It has a super chill vibe to it and a wide selection of food to choose from, with some great gluten free options as well. It can be hard at times to be gluten free as well as vegan. My choices can be very limited seeing as many vegans can have gluten, and a lot of vegan foods at restaurants do contain gluten, which can be a bummer. Anyway like I was saying, they have quite a few GF options for me to choose from.

I ordered the burrito and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Mind you, I have not had a burrito in a very long time because most places do not have a GF tortilla/wrap large enough for a burrito. So, this burrito may very well have just been good and not as amazing as I thought it was, since I had sort of forgotten what they taste like. Update, they are pretty damn good. Man, I have missed burritos. The burrito had vegan cheese and vegan sour cream, both of which were great and tasted very similar to, and just as good, their dairy counterparts.

I also opted to add avocado, which was really good, but was around two dollars extra. However, I was not aware of this upon ordering. The girl at the counter asked if I would like to add avocado to my burrito and I was all, heck yeah I do without thinking to ask how much it would be. I thought maybe a dollar or so, but boy, was I wrong. While I really liked the addition of the avocado in the burrito, next time I would definitely go without it. It was creamy enough with the cheese and sour cream and didn’t really need the extra creaminess added from the avocado. The rest of the ingredients were pretty standard rice, beans, salsa and corn, all the ingredients you would expect to find in a burrito, but like I said it was good.

I was so impressed by my first visit to Blossom du Jour that I ended up going there for lunch again the next week. This time I ordered the GF beet burger. This burger was served on GF sliced bread, which I thought was a bit weird at first, but the bread was really good. It was dense and flavorful, and I really enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it more with a sandwich or as toast, opposed to a burger bun, but I got over it. The burger was a beet patty with vegan horseradish mayo lettuce and tomato. Overall I liked the burger as well, but I am in a desperate search for the best gluten free, vegan burger and sadly this was not it. It was good, but I would have preferred an actual bun and the burger was a bit too mushy for my liking. If anyone has any suggestions, please send them my way, like I said I’m desperate.

The restaurant also has salads, bowls, burgers, smoothies and shakes. Everything looked and sounded amazing.

I am especially intrigued by the shakes, I can’t tell you the last time I had a milk shake and it sounds really good.

I am really excited that I stumbled upon this place and am looking forward to going back again soon to try out more of the amazing and delicious food they have to offer.

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Restaurant Snapshot: The Flint Crepe Company Flint, MI

The Flint Crepe Company is a small little gem in the heart of downtown Flint, that popped up in 2011 and has quickly become a local favorite, and for good reason I might add. Everything at the restaurant is homemade or bought locally including milk, meat and vegetables. Each crepe, coffee or latte is made to order right in front of you so you can see that they are only using the best and freshest ingredients. They also have gluten free crepe batter, which is a must for me, but also a great option for them to have for their customers. Another great thing about them is that they can make almost any crepe vegan. They have tempeh which can easily be substituted in for any type of meat and then simply ask for it without cheese. I’m not going to lie, it is much easier for a vegetarian to get crepes there than a vegan because they just have to sub out the meat. A great majority of their sweet crepes are made with some type of dairy in them, thus I have only gotten the chance to try out their savory options. They do allow you to create your own crepe, which is a great option as well; you don’t have to substitute anything because you are choosing exactly what you want to go in it.

They also have great coffee and lattes at The Flint Crepe Company and they offer both almond and soy milk options, which is fantastic since I try to stay away from soy as much as possible; I also happen to just like the taste of almond milk better than soy milk. For the short time The Flint Crepe Company has been open, it has made quite an impact in the coffee world. It was named as the third best coffee shop in Michigan in MLive’s Michigan’s Best Coffee Shop Challenge with John Gonzalez.

I have tried the Rueben and the Fall Harvest Crepe, as well as making my own concoction a few times and I have yet to be disappointed with my choices or my meal. The same goes with the coffee. I have had the chai latte, the regular latte and a cappuccino, all with almond milk of course, and have enjoyed them all.

If you ever find yourself in the downtown Flint area, I would highly recommend stopping by The Flint Crepe Company and trying out one of their sweet or savory crepes, depending on your mood, or just grabbing a quick, but good, coffee or latte to go.

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Book Review: Yes Please

I have been reading the book Yes Please, by Amy Poehler for the past 5 months and I have finally finished it! To be honest I have no idea why it has taken me so long to read, I love Amy Poehler and I found the book to be very funny and interesting. No matter the reason, I did finally finish reading it and I loved it. Poehler is honest, emotional, hysterical and genuine and all of this rings true in her book and her writing. I loved learning about her life pre SNL (Saturday Night Live) and how she helped to start UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade). She talks about her struggles and how she pushed through to finally make it. I always get encouraged when I hear stories of how celebrities have to work hard and struggle for years before they make it big, not because I’m rooting for them to fail, but because it gives me hope for myself.

Near the end of the book she talks about her time on Parks and Recreation which is one of my all time favorite shows. I can re-watch every episode and still crack up every time; the writing and acting on that show was so smart and funny, it’s insane! I loved every single character and they were all so unique and funny in their own way. I could go on for an hour about how much I love the show, but instead I will just end it here and say go watch it on Netflix, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I think park of the reason I took so long to read this book was because of how heavy it is. No joke, this book weighs a ton and sometimes I just really didn’t want to lug it around with me. Another reason I lagged on reading was because there were a few sections the book that I didn’t’ find as interesting as the rest. These were the sections that Poehler talked about her earlier part of her life, her mom and her dad and their life. Don’t get me wrong, her family seems great and it is clear that she loves and respects her parents very much; it just wasn’t why I bought the book so it took me longer to read those parts. I didn’t find it as exciting as the rest of the book. If you are a book skimmer I would say here would be the place to do it. I, on the other hand, have a hard time skimming books. For whatever reason, I feel like I will miss something important if I just skim past it, so I somewhat dumbly read it all. Besides those few slower sections however I thoroughly enjoyed this book and had a few laugh out loud moments, with lots of silent smirking to myself as well.

If you like Amy Poehler you will definitely like this book. It is literally Amy Poehler in the written form. You can definitely hear her voice in your head when reading the book and I think that it helped me to understand her better and also come to like and respect her more as a person as well. If you are looking for a funny memoir to read this would be a great choice.

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Restaurant Snapshot: Meli Cafe Chicago, IL

Meli Café is a chic and surprisingly fancy little café. Don’t let the sleek décor fool you; it is a very affordable place to grab breakfast/brunch. On their website it says they also serve lunch and dinner, but I have only eaten there in the morning, and honestly I think that this place screams brunch. It is attached to a hotel, which I think adds to its fancy brunch feeling. The restaurant was classy and very nice, without being too expensive; it was very moderately priced for the quality and portion size of the meals. Meli Café has three locations in Chicago. I went to the Dearborn location, which fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, is the only location that offers their fresh juice blends. The other two locations are on Halsted and Wells.

They have a great selection of breakfast foods, and many meals come with the option to be gluten free, as well as quite a few vegan and vegetarian options as well, which is always nice. They actually had a separate section on the menu highlighting the vegan and gluten free options. I like when restaurants set aside a section of the menu, instead of just mixing them in with the rest of the food and you have to hunt down the items you can eat. They did also have gluten free and vegetarian options scattered throughout the menu, I just thought that the separate section was very considerate and nice of them. I finally, after a long debate with myself, decided on the vegan and gluten free French toast. Let me tell you, it was amazing. It comes with fresh berries and bananas on top, along with agave syrup. Personally I thought that the French toast was sweet and moist enough without the syrup, so I didn’t even use it, but I bet it would have added even more sweetness and goodness to the dish. I also got a cup of coffee, which by the way was really good, just in case you were wondering.

The café also had a selection of fresh juices that all sounded amazing, but unfortunately I didn’t get to try one out. The juice I was eyeing and ultimately decided not to get was the Pure Gold blend. It contained Pineapple, Carrot, Apple and Ginger, which sounded great and I still regret not getting it. I thought that this restaurant was great and I can’t wait to go back to try out more breakfast/brunch dishes and hopefully a few of their fresh juice blends.

 

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