Anybody been to Veggie Garden in Dallas?
Greetings! I am writing a very positive (albeit a moderately long) review because I want this restaurant to succeed and because there isn't any place in Dallas that I have seen that really brings the philosophy of good health together with great taste and quality. A key factor in the decision-making for most vegetarians/vegans when going out to eat is TRUST, and I hope that this review will help those on the fence try this new concept.
I have been to this restaurant several times, and I am surprised each time I go. First of all, it's buffet style, which is perfect. The food is very good, and I will not qualify that by adding "for not being meat." The dishes on the buffet line stand for themselves and are packed with flavor. There are a few exceptions where there are non-seasoned items, but there are plenty of healthy toppings on the counter space to liven things up in those cases. I asked the owner about their cooking practices, and she said that they try not to fry anything, but when they do, they do it very lightly and only use the oil not more than twice. That surprised me at first, but when she told me the reasons why, there were no more silly questions from me. She is apparently a cancer survivor who discovered the vegan way during her western-style cancer treatments and made a total recovery (remission) by completely changing her diet. What you see in this restaurant is a culmination of her research and association with doctors and vegan chefs across two continents. She apparently also has health seminars off-and-on right in the restaurant.
At any rate, the food is made just-in-time in most cases, which means that though there seems to be not much in the bins, they get filled quickly to meet demand and the owner's freshness requirements.
The soups seem to vary over time, but I am not a soup guy and did not taste all of them. I did try the miso and pumpkin soup, and they were good. For the most part, I could recognize the buffet items, but in some instances, I could not tell. That's when the owner came by and started explaining things to me and suggested all kinds of combinations that were fantastic. She is obviously very dedicated, and she even busses the tables!
Some items look just like meat (chicken or beef), but when you bite into the pieces, you can tell that they are made from some kind of vegetable. It's not bad at all, just different. The dishes with this substitute are great with the brown rice they have there. I could tell that the dishes started to get more varied, and the owner said that she brought in a visiting Chinese chef to help with new ideas. Their curry with potatoes was great, and their black bean noodle sauce is to die for. I just could not stop eating the black bean sauce!
Other standard items I sampled were eggrolls, awesome veggie burgers (you can get this to go anytime for a fee, but it's sometimes included in the buffet), and lasagna (which can dry out if you come late). It seems that they use very little added oil in their cooking. If you want more, you can add some sesame oil. They also have a lettuce wrap station that I needed help understanding, but once you know, you can't beat the taste of fresh veggies/rice and spicy red sauce and sesame oil, wrapped in crispy lettuce. It's all fresh, and I have yet to see anything wilted.
Next, the dessert. They don't have a huge selection, but the stuff they have out is flavorful. The pieces are small, and I understand why: honestly, after stuffing myself on the buffet line, I always forget about what's on the opposite counter. They have great cookies, and they have this interesting cheesecake made from tofu. It actually was lighter than normal cheesecake in taste but good nonetheless.
The food was great, but the most impressive thing to me was the tea that was offered for free. This tea is made from a special type of mushroom that is anti-carcinogenic. I really like kukicha, brown rice, and green teas, and this tea was just as nutty, and had a slight sweetness to it. I'm going to do some research into the properties of this mushroom because I definitely feel warmer about an hour after drinking the tea.
The seating area is wide-open, clean, and welcoming, and sometimes they will have interesting documentaries on health, GMO foods, and nutrition playing on a big flatscreen LCD. There are live plants that line the area. Everything looks new, and the men's bathroom is pristine.
They have breakfast during the week, but I have yet to check that out. It'll probably be soon, since I'm not too far away. You can see what is available for breakfast because they have a picture menu, which probably means it's an order-only deal, no buffet. The pictures looked great, and they continue to make the entrees look like the real things: pancakes, crepes, "egg" bagel, ham-biscuit, etc.
In conclusion, I highly recommend this restaurant for anybody interested in non-meat dishes, those concerned with healthy eating, or those just curious about vegan food and willing to go on a small adventure of the palette. You’ll be stuffed for sure! Enjoy!
They have a site: www.veggiebuffet.com
I have not been to Veggie Garden yet, but I do know of two restaurants with similar names:
One off Royal & 35 on the west side just before you get to KoMart and the small collection of Korean eateries (New Start Veggie Garden) I believe they have a coupon on the Valpak website (I believe there is a second New Start Veggie Garden in Dallas around the Royal/Forest area))
The other if I remember correctly is off 75 and Arapaho (Veggie Garden - www.theveggiegarden.com
Both of these restaurants look fantastic!