If you live in Metro Detroit, or are keeping tabs on the plant based food scene, chance are that you may have heard of GreenSpace Café, opened by world-renowned vegan cardiologist, Dr. Joel Kahn. GreenSpace Café is a 100 percent vegan restaurant, meaning no animal products are served at all. This restaurant has been getting so much buzz, they now have a food truck and are expanding to Royal Oak to open a second location.
My husband and I ventured out on one dark Michigan evening last week to enjoy a vegan date night. Read on to discover what we ordered, if we liked what we ate, and my overall review of the ultra-modern, plant based GreenSpace Café.
Drink: GreenSpace Margarita
Description: Made with tequila, apple, ginger, lemon, cucumber and lime juice, with hibiscus-jalapeno-infused bitters.
If you have read my previous articles, you will know that I am a big fan of tequila when I do drink, which is pretty rare. If tequila (and mead) did not exist, I probably would not drink at all. So, when I found out GreenSpace had a house margarita, I could not wait to try it. I upgraded my tequila to the 1-2-3 Organic Tequila, and I swear to you, this is the best tasting tequila I have ever had. Granted, I have not yet had the chance to try other organic tequilas (hey, they’re expensive), so I cannot say for certain that this one is the best.
Anyways, this margarita really blew me away. I tend to like my margaritas super traditional: lime, salt, tequila and no syrupy mix added in. So, I was a wee bit wary when ordering this only because of all of the fruit juices. But to my surprise, the sweet and tangy of the fruit intermingled in with the spicy of the jalapeno, was really delightful. If the cocktails weren’t so expensive and small, I would have ordered another.
Drink: Manhattan Beet
Description: Traverse City Cherry Whiskey, beet-apple-carrot juice, lemon, cherry-ginseng-kombucha.
Sadly, we did not get a picture of this drink because my husband ended up sending it back. Yes, it was that bad. I don’t ever like to send food back, but my husband loves his whiskey, and for the $12 price tag, it wasn’t drinkable, so it wasn’t worth to keep.
Appetizer: French Onion Soup
This was the soup of the day, and I have not ever had a vegan French onion soup in my life. I have seriously been missing out! This French onion soup was served sans-vegan cheese with a slice of crusty bread dipped into the broth. The broth was light, airy and unbelievably flavorful. It tasted exactly like non-vegan french onion soup, just without all of the toxic, cruel animal products. I would definitely recommend ordering this if you have the chance.
Entrée I: Macro Bowl with Korean Chili
Description: Roasted sweet potato, kimchee, brown rice, pickled wakame, Michigan tofu, baby kale.
When the Macro Bowl arrived at my table I was pretty excited. Packed with baby kale and sweet potato (two of my favorite foods!), I opted for the Korean Chili sauce and ordered this sans-tofu. I love spicy food, but I don’t see the point in ordering something so spicy you cannot taste anything else you’re eating. This is just my opinion of course, but I like my spice to compliment the food I’m eating, rather than overpower it. The waitress informed me that the Korean Chili would be the perfect level of spicy for what I was looking for.
However, upon tasting this bowl, I felt it left something to be desired. The rice was so hard and crunchy, I felt like I had been served the burnt rice scraped up from the bottom of the pot. I love rice, I cook it frequently at home with the help of my Zojurushi, so I know what quality cooked rice should feel like, and this was not it.
Overall, I felt this meal was pretty bland. But perhaps I should have ordered another sauce with garlic or other herbs instead of the Korean Chili. The kimchee was excellent, however. It was the perfect level of spicy, for me. The baby kale was fresh, the wakame was seasoned well, and the mashed sweet potatoes were an interesting compliment to the kale, rice, and wakame. Overall this dish was decent, but the rice ruined it for me. At one point, I thought a piece of my tooth had broken off (I kid you not) when I took a bite, but it was only the overcooked rice.
Was it worth $15? In my opinion, it was not. And I most likely would never order this again.
Entrée II: Braised-Jackfruit Enchiladas
Description: Corn tortillas stuffed with braised jackfruit topped with smoked poblano chili sauce, pinto beans, cashew sour cream, cilantro
My husband ordered this dish, and after trying it, I was not impressed. We had to ask for the avocado as an extra charge. I don’t know about you, but I love enchiladas and empanadas with guacamole. The blend of cilantro, onion, garlic, lime and jalapeno really add something to a meal. This dish could have easily been taken to the next level with more herbs, guacamole, or spices. However, the jackfruit was tender, and I liked how much the texture complimented the beans.
The one upside for me about this dish was that GreenSpace makes their own vegan cheeses. And they’re really good, too. The cashew sour cream served drizzled over the enchiladas was a nice way to bring the flavors (what I could taste of them, anyways) together. I really appreciate restaurants who create their own vegan cheese from scratch and don’t only rely on Daiya, which seems to be universally synonymous with “vegan cheese”.
We were going to try a slice of their pumpkin pie for dessert (kept in the to-go refrigerator up front by the 9 Mile road entrance), but after seeing the $9 price tag, and how thin the slice of pie was (seriously, it was the smallest slice of pie ever; you can buy an entire vegan pie at Whole Foods for $10), we opted not to.
Overall, this was a so-so restaurant experience. Hopefully my next meal at GreenSpace will be better than this one.
I hope this post does not sound too disgruntled or ungrateful. I have dined at GreenSpace on many occasions, and have brought family and friends here over the last two years for various celebrations. This was just a poor dining experience, and I want to remain honest in my restaurant critiques. So if I have a bad experience, I’m going to write about it, regardless of how much I love said restaurant. I will dine at GreenSpace as long as it is open, and it will remain one of my favorite places to order a margarita.
I would like to end this post on a positive note. I truly respect what GreenSpace is doing, as it is one of the only 100 percent vegan restaurants in Metro Detroit. I love that Dr. Kahn is spreading plant based nutrition that is easily accessible, (somewhat) affordable, and for the most part, great tasting.