Tuesday, 10 April 2012
I purchased a Yelp deal for $10 worth of food for $5 to be used at The Panorama of My Silence-Heart Café in Jamaica, New York. The Manhattan-esque café caters to a vegetarian/vegan crowd, but meat lovers like me can also find comfort there with super strong and frothy lattes, homemade pastries, hearty wraps, and hand crafted salads and sandwiches. This cozy and quiet café offers a chill atmosphere, as if you were sitting in your own living room. I went there last Thursday for an early dinner and to cram in some study hours, knowing the café would be conducive to my needs.
I decided on the Cobb Salad (6.95) made with veggie ham and chicken, egg, parmesan cheese, tomatoes, croutons, walnuts, guacamole and greens served with a house balsamic dressing. It was incredibly light and flavorful, something I would not expect from a vegetarian salad. The veggie meats I have had in the past were void of flavor aside from an overload of salt, in addition to rubbery and just plain unappetizing. The veggie ham and chicken in the Cobb Salad was quite the opposite: the salt factor was just right and there was some type of herb in there and even some kind of seed that I could not detect. It did not taste like meat, but it definitely turned a dull vegetarian salad into a rousing one that left me wanting more. I was surprised at how satiated my palate was with this salad. I accompanied my meal with their signature Red Velvet Latte (M 3.95, L 4.55), which is a blend of espresso, mocha, and raspberry, topped off with a decorative heart adorning the generous foam. The flavor of the mocha was complemented by the raspberry syrup. Nothing about this latte was overpowering, which I find is often the case with flavored lattes at other coffee shops, which is why I usually opt for regular coffee. This latte was raved about in Edible Queens, so I decided to give it a try and was not let down.
For dessert, which I rarely pass up, I ordered the Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting. It is made in house, and call me crazy, but this might have been the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. What do you know, the best carrot cake is located on a lone street in a not-so-desirable neighborhood in Queens with not much else around it to talk about. It had a good amount of raisins, shredded carrot, zucchini, and coconut. It was a generously frosted heap on my plate that took me all of 10 minutes to scarf down. It was glorious. I washed it down with the remaining sip of my latte. I also took a Carob Ball home, which I ate as a snack the next day. It was like vegan candy consisting of coconut, dried dates, rice malt, sesame seeds, and cocoa. It was superior to any store bought granola bar and very filling because of the fiber from the dates and fat from the coconut.
The owner’s son was very cheerful when describing the menu; his passion for the family and friend collaboration shines through. One thing that did irk me was when the owner commented on me not being a vegetarian. I had ordered the cake, which was not vegan, and he asked if I was a vegetarian. When I said no, he asked me if I “cared about the cows”, upon which I applied “of course”. It was no use getting into a debate on the poor treatment of animals, which is indeed a horrible thing, but I do not think someone should be commenting on a customer’s eating habits. If I were sensitive I could have thrown a fit and left, declaring I would never come back. I do understand the cafe philosophy for loving-kindness and peace, though, which is actually why I like the place. It is hard to find a comfortable place to sit and have a quiet meal and a coffee. Starbucks and Panera Bread are always too busy and loud. Despite that minor incident, I will be back to Panorama Café. Next time I want to try their drip coffee, a sandwich on pumpernickel bread, and possibly a homemade muffin. They also had homemade rice pudding with cranberry that looked positively scrumptious when I was there.
Do you have any favorite vegetarian and/or vegan restaurants?