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New vegan rest. Davis Sq opens 2/2

Below is the email announcement about it:

Finally, like proud parents, we announce the opening of our new cafe, The Pulse Cafe, located at 195 Elm Street in Davis Square, Somerville!

Our Grand Opening will be Tuesday, February 2, 2010. We will be open serving dinner from 5 pm until 9 pm.
Our hours, to begin will be as follows:

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 5 pm until 9 pm.
Friday and Saturday 5 pm until 10 pm.

We will bring back Sunday Brunch, beginning February 21st. Lunches will be added mid-March and perhaps breakfast in the future, but as this location is more than double the size of our former location, and we now have a full staff, we want to make sure we don't try to begin it all at once!

We look forward to serving you and introducing you to our new staff. We feel the people now working at the Pulse Cafe will continue the work that we began one and a half years ago, as we would ourselves.

Bob will still be the head chef and oversee all food production, but he will now have some much deserved assistance. We have also increased the number of servers working at busy times, to better expedite service. We think you will be pleased at what you find!

Our new web address is thepulsecafe.com and our new phone number is 617-625-1730. The Pulse Cafe has its own Facebook page, so if you would like to receive future contacts from us that way, we urge you to join as a Fan of The Pulse Cafe. You will then receive information, much as you have in the past in these e-mails.

If you are not on Facebook and wish to continue receiving e-mails from us regarding changes or events, please respond to this e-mail with a message that says "Please keep me on your mailing list for The Pulse Cafe." This response should be sent to our new e-mail address, lisa@thepulsecafe.com. If we don't receive such an e-mail, we will assume that you don't wish to be on this mailing list.

As Tuesday will be our first day of regular operations, please understand we will all be acclimating to our new surroundings and our staff to their new positions.

So come in out of the cold and let us warm you from the inside out!

Be sure to check out our new website, thepulsecafe.com for our new menu, and information on our upcoming Valentine's Day Dinner, for which we are currently accepting reservations.

And on Monday nights, we have learned that 2 of our favorite customers are hosting a vegan radio program. You can learn more about their program and the spot that Lisa will be doing for them at


Lisa and Bob Bouley

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  1. Just got an udpate that the opening has been rescheduled for tomorrow.
    We are delaying our opening until Wednesday, February 3rd because we have found that there are a few things that need to be corrected, so as to assure all is ready. We look forward to serving you.

    This is the last e-mail th'at will come to our previous Vej Naturals e-mail contact list. If you wish to remain on our new e-mail list and have not yet contacted us, please remember to reply to this with a message titled 'Keep me on your e-mail list." if you prefer to read updates on Facebook, join as a Fan of The Pulse Cafe.

    We apologize for any inconvenience.

    Lisa and Bob Bouley'

    1. Just a quick update: Opening day has been pushed back a day. They will be opening tomorrow instead.

      1. Starting with dinner only seems like kind of an odd choice. In my experience with the (many) establishments in that space, they're always been more full at lunch. Maybe they're afraid of a huge rush of folks to the outskirts of Davis at lunch?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Parsnipity

          Their old place in Malden (under the name Vej Naturals) was dinner only. But then again, that was in Malden.

          Can't wait to try out their new place!

        2. Visited tonight!!

          Aside from typical "just opened" issues (credit card machine was down, flustered servers, missing napkins, silverware, etc.) it was pretty good. My "maple glazed" tempeh reuben was delicious, although there was barely any tempeh in the sandwich. My roasted sweet potato bites were cooler than room temperature, which was very bizarre. My friend got the Jamaican jerk chicken tempeh entree; tempeh itself was fabulous, although the quinoa and (pureed) sweet potatoes it came with were mediocre and also cold.

          Presentation of the food is beautiful and portions are generous. I am a big fan of vegetarian and vegan food (although I am neither) so I will certainly be back to sample their other offerings. I love how convenient it is to the MBTA.

          Smaller menu and a little more low key than Red Lentil.

          4 Replies
          1. re: SaraASR

            More low key than Red Lentil? How do you mean? RL seems sooo laid back.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Their old place was rather laid back. It was in the front half of a first floor of a house converted into commercial space and had seats for about 10 or so. Perhaps the scale-up in size (I assume the new place must be bigger) is something they haven't adjusted to yet.

              We're going on Valentine's Day (they're having a fixed price dinner). Must be popular since when I called yesterday, I had a choice between 5pm and 8pm reservations -- can't wait to try them again!

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                Food plating, quality, or preparation isn't as professional. Wobbly tables. Space is more worn-in. Perhaps low key isn't the correct phrase. Maybe "fresh"? Just not as clean and new.

                1. re: SaraASR

                  Thanks for the clarifications...totally understand now.

              1. re: yarm

                "Latin American Seitan balls" - I....don't think I am going to order those...tee hee

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  Hahahaha... they seemed to be very popular last night, although I didn't order any!

              2. "The Pulse" Packed tonight about 8 pm and closed early, 8:30 pm, because they had run out of most things. Our server said they've been busy since they opened at this location so it may take them a little while to realize what a good location they've got. I had Tuscan and a Decadent smoothie and my husband had Tripoli and a Green smoothie. Quite tasty, my husband said the Green smoothie would have been better with some jalapeƱo in it. They have a nice variety of gluten-free dishes. No permanent signage yet. Only one smoothie machine, so may be a wait if a bunch of people order different smoothies at the same time. We'll definitely return soon! Equi-distant from Davis & Porter Squares.

                1. Had Valentine's Day dinner there on Sunday. It was a 5 course menu with the only choice being the entre (we got one of each so we got to try both). We were pretty impressed with all of the food. Clearly they've upped their game since their last incarnation. I was also amused when I realized which building it was in -- I had been there about 16 or 17 years ago when it was a Bertucci's.

                  They had a rather good tea selection (they were not doing smoothies that night to reduce the work load). Their Borscht was rather tasty with a black pepper-spiced broth and the chocolate truffles were rather amazing. Must try again soon when we can order off their menu.

                  1. We've been once the week they opened, not much after 5 and the place was packed. Clearly The Pulse Cafe is filling a niche in Davis. I know my husband and I were quite excited.

                    We had the mushroom calamari and maki special for apps. The calamari was fantastic. The aioli that came with them was a particular highlight. I also particularly enjoyed the tempeh-based maki roll that was included as 1 of the 3 on the maki plate.

                    I had the tempeh reuben as a main. The reuben was quite good! The only thing I would change is a heartier bread, as it had a bit of trouble standing up to all the fillings.

                    We unfortunately didn't have room for dessert, which is a bummer because they had some delicious-sounding options. All-in-all, it's fantastic to have a solid, easily accessible vegan restaurant around. As a vegetarian, I wholeheartedly appreciate it.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: tazia

                      Everyone seems to be having good experiences--which is great!--so I was surprised when my friend who has celiac and happens to live near Davis said the following about it: " Yeah, I went there a week or two ago and the kitchen-- which is completely exposed and in the middle of the space--was a complete nightmare/mess. Made my stomach turn (and worry about cross-contamination!). I think we should give them a few more months to work it out . . ."

                      1. re: MissCheese

                        I'm also gluten-free. I was facing away from the kitchen but it didn't seem chaotic even though it was very busy as I was looking around from time to time. I did mention to our server that there were discussions on chowhound, which she hadn't heard of so maybe she or others who work there will check them out at some point and respond to the concerns.

                      2. re: tazia

                        Pulse cafe is a great new addition to Davis! We braved the pouring rain and gusty winds to go last night around 730pm and it was very full (thankfully we did not have to wait for a table, nor did anyone who came after us). It was a great meal, we tried the mushroom calamari at the suggestion of our waitress, which was delicious. crispy, flavorful, just the right texture. eat it while it's hot though, it gets less tasty as it cools down! I had the tempeh reuben for dinner, which was great. I love that I can eat this without feeling guilty about eating meat, now! The bread had great rye flavor, and I found that it was hearty enough (and it tastes just as good for lunch today!) My DC has the veggie lasagna which he said was wonderful.

                        They weren't serving smoothies, they've decided to hold off on that while the kitchen staff gets in to the swing of things, and they ran out of the apple crumb cake right before we got a chance to order it! Our waitress said she's never tried it because they run out of it every night...I can't wait to go back and try it.

                        Portions are generous, prices are reasonable, and overall value is good. Service was incredibly friendly and mostly had the kinks worked out. Pulse Cafe is also a good place to introduce those not used to vegan food - it does a great job of giving vegan food a good name.

                      3. Popped in on Friday night for the first time -
                        Each started off with salads - I think they were like $7-8 and they were huge, fresh and delicious. I really enjoyed my basic greens, fennel and sunflower sprouts salad. Also shared the entree of the house casserole - this was yummy, but generally less successful - needed a little kick, but not bad.
                        I could definitely go in for those salads alone, which is a good thing for a vegan place - gotta do the veggies right.
                        One minor point - the chairs in the place are all really bad looking - cut up / taped over seats and old - I don't really care that much for pretty, but it just didn't look very welcoming. I suppose there is something to not throwing them out environmentally, but these should be fixed imho.

                        1. My boyfriend and I have been vegans for two years now and we have tried a lot of vegan places. Boston has never been a great town to be vegan, so we were excited to see this place up and running. I was, however, really, really disappointed, and probably will not go back due to the food being mediocre and the service being so-so.

                          Here's how it all went down:
                          1) I decided to order soup and salad (asked for salad with dressing on the side)
                          2) Salad came with dressing already on it and had to be reordered.
                          3) Soup was scorched (tasted like I got the bottom of the pot), they were out of the other soup on the menu, and I was told it all basically would taste like this.

                          So I ended up with basically just . . . a big plate of lettuce (the "Spring Greens Salad"). Now don't get me wrong--I love salads and eat them all the time for lunch and dinner. But this salad--SOUNDED interesting, but when it came it was all lettuce with maybe one or two pieces of fennel. Now, first, if I knew that NO SOUP was to be had, I would certainly have ordered something else, but second, why do they have to charge $7.00 for a big plate of lettuce?

                          My boyfriend ordered the Daily Pulse plate, which was decent. Thank God, because I was REALLY hungry at this point and ate about half of it!

                          Other thoughts:
                          1) The menu is very samey-samey--not very creative. Decent but plain fare.
                          2) The staff answered most questions with "I don't know" (honest, but not helpful).
                          3) They did comp us a dessert, but my meal was basically very unsatisfying--I went home hungry, due to only receiving a large plate of lettuce for my dinner. And the bill was not cheap.

                          I like Red Lentil Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant in Watertown much better.

                          I don't know if I will try this place again. The main dishes seemed fun, but do not order the Spring Greens Salad (just a bunch of lettuce) or the soups as they tend to run out or be burnt.

                          Pulse Cafe
                          195 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02140

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: mcutter

                            Wow, for someone who's been a struggling vegan in Boston, it seems a bit harsh to write off Pulse after one visit. I've yet to try it, but I guess I'm more forgiving of places that are earnestly trying to put out good food (disclaimer: I am not vegan).

                            1. re: mcutter

                              So omnivore here, and I like Pulse and I actually like the Spring Greens salad! Heh, so go figure -

                              Menu says: Mesclun, Pea Shoots, Baby Arugula, Shaved Fennel, and Vidalia Onions. Dressed with EVOO, Fresh Squeezed Lemon, Sea Salt & Black Pepper. Greens, fennel and onion really are not THAT interesting. A few salted pepitas or some other nutty/crunchy item would improve it. The times I've ordered it, all of the aforementioned greens were included and I thought there was a good amount of fennel. So who knows what happened when you went there.

                              Frankly, I think $6 is about right for the salad, but it seems like a lot to me so I am willing to give them a pass on the extra buck.

                              In terms of "interesting" sounding salad, I can vouch for the much more interesting "Incan Salad." and a better value.

                              Have not had the soup other than the miso which was unremarkable - I have enjoyed their entrees however, which change weekly, so in terms of "samey-samey" I would encourage you to have another visit. And order more than a soup and salad - that's like diet fare for me.

                              I think I would tend to agree with you that Red Lentil seems to have a few different things going on, but Pulse is much closer to me and RL's service issues give me the hives - really hope they have worked that out a bit. Is it just me or do crunchy/vegan type places tend toward bad/slow service? Could the solution be more bacon? ;) j/k

                              Red Lentil
                              600 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                the solution is often more bacon.

                                1. re: hyde

                                  So I got takeout from Pulse last night -
                                  - Soup of the day was a creamy asparagus - without cream of course - I liked it but it tasted a little like green tea with asparagus. Not a bad thing, but that's what popped up flavor-wise.
                                  - Caesar salad - I think the salads are big - we split this and we each got a healthy portion - the only thing is the non-dairy/non-egg dressing that was odd - not bad, but again, just flavor-wise was a little off from what you might expect. I finished the bowl, if that's any indication.
                                  - Sweet and sour tempeh with brown rice, papaya salsa and grilled plaintains.
                                  I really like Pulse's tempeh preparations - I will admit I have never had tempeh before, but the two or three entrees I've had it was delicious and this was no exception. Really good sweet/sour flavor along with the grilled taste - like a barbeque-y taste. The rice was yummy - flecked with chopped kale - papaya salsa was good, but was a bit bland - could have been punched up with some garlic or lemongrass or something.

                                  Service issues - got home - oops - no grilled plantains! Bummer....

                                  Ref. Bacon

                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                    And....just wanted to add...
                                    Went to Red Lentil last night, and I have to agree with mcutter in terms of preference - Red Lentil kinda kicked Pulse's butt....
                                    Santa Fe salad was huge and easily split for 2 diners at $10 -
                                    I had the herb and pistachio-encrusted tofu with a corn cake and sauteed spinach - this would be great in any restaurant, really flavorful, I am not a tofu fan, but I could eat this every night.
                                    DC had the millet loaf, which was also good.
                                    Biggest improvement - service was EXCELLENT!
                                    Price point is a tick higher than Pulse so there's still a niche, but the food there last night was really terrific.

                                    Red Lentil
                                    600 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472