Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Restaurant Review - Pomegranate Cafe


I had been hearing rumors about this cute little cafe in Ahwatukee that was serving fresh, organic, and vegan friendly fare. This combination is almost unheard of in the East Valley, so I knew I had to check it out. I have to admit, Rikki Cupcake's (Seitanic Vegan Heathen) review reminded me that I hadn't ventured over yet. Pomegranate Cafe is located on the Southeast corner of Chandler Blvd. and 40th Street in Ahwatukee. They are just south of Trader Joe's in the same plaza. Entering the cafe, I noticed that there was a cooler with organic veggies and fruits on display. There are also some wonderful house made desserts and pastries on display at the counter. The dining area is small, but open and airy feeling. It does not feel cramped at all. In the back there is a counter with condiments and self serve water with fresh fruit floating in it, which I found a very nice touch.

They have three separate menus. The first is their drink menu. It was great to have so many choices. They offer fresh organic juices, smoothies, coffee drinks, and elixirs (which are herbal combinations). The second menu is the breakfast menu. The breakfast menu has both sweet and savory selections as well as side items that can be ordered a la carte. Lunch offered a variety of salads, sandwiches, wraps, plates, bowls, and even a kids menu. Each day they have specials available as well. 

My first trip in was for lunch. A few of my BFF's and I were meeting for my birthday lunch. The beautiful thing about this is that when it is your celebration, you get to pick the spot. My friends are definitely meat eaters and one is a very picky one at that. I like to expand their horizons and continually show them that vegetarian fare is delicious, fun, and plentiful. It took us a while to look through all of the menus. The specials looked wonderful as well. After much deliberation, we went up to the counter to order. The staff was very friendly and willing to answer all of our questions happily. 


We decided to order a Gratitude Smoothie to hold us over while we made our lunch decisions. The gratitude is a combination of raspberries, goji berries, strawberries and pomegranate juice. Many of their items contain pomegranate juice for obvious reasons. I loved this smoothie. Usually smoothies are far too sweet for my taste. This one was not overpoweringly sweet and pleasantly tart. 


After carefully considering my choices, I decided to order the special of the Soft Summer Tacos. The tacos were generously stuffed with quinoa, black beans, fresh summer veggies (peppers, zucchini, onions), vegan cheese with a fresh salsa on the side. They were served with a very colorful and fresh mixed green salad, fresh fruit, and blue corn chips. The tacos were huge. The tortilla was light and a perfect texture to allow the fillings to shine through. The salad was super fresh and wonderful. I'm very particular about tortilla chips and found these a bit lifeless compared to the rest of the plate. The salsa was pretty mild, but very fresh tasting.


My sister ordered the Buddah's Delight Bowl. This was a fantastic little bowl. She is not one to eat a lot of tofu, but was delighted to find that the tofu was perfectly prepared. It was slightly crispy on the outside and had a slightly chewy texture. The combination of the crispy tofu, the flavorful hummus, kale, and avocado were a big winner. I know I'm going to have to order this one again because I only got to try a little bit of hers.


My very non-veg girlfriend ordered the Smoking BLT. She is a hard core bacon purist, so she didn't appreciate the smoky tempeh so much. She did say that because she was expecting actual bacon for some reason, that this took her by surprise. She's never had tempeh. Sometimes I think this is an acquired taste. I, however, capitalized on this and got to eat her tempeh bacon! It was fantastic. Tempeh can often have a bitter edge to it. This was perfectly prepared with no bitterness and a wonderful smoky flavor. I gobbled it up. She loved the rest of the sandwich. The miso mayo is a nice change from just plain ol' mayo. The bread was perfectly toasted. Another one I am going to have to go back and have all by myself.


My third friend ordered a non-vegan version of the avocado sandwich. She said it was very good. I won't go into detail here, because after all this is a vegan food blog. But it is worth mentioning that the egg dishes are all organic an you can safely bring non-tofu eaters here for a delicious meal.

Because I was the guest of honor and I wanted to try as many things as possible for this write-up. I insisted we try not one, but two desserts. We ordered the raw berry cashew cheesecake (I'm not sure it that name is correct) and the Chocolate Pomegranate Cake. OK folks, I am a chocolate snob. For years when we'd do our girlie foodie dining expeditions I ordered exclusively chocolate desserts. I have to say that this is possibly one of the best chocolate cakes I've had. My girlfriend was shocked that I would rave so much about something chocolate that was "adulterated" with any kind of fruit. But they have a great formula here. The pomegranate is so subtle and the cake so moist, it was truly hard to share.


The cheesecake was delicious as well, but admittedly was overshadowed by my love for the chocolate cake. The crust was moist and tasty. The filling was a bit soft, but the berry flavors were wonderful. The goji berry garnish was pretty, but the flavor of gojis is very distinctive. I love them, but others may not. But heck, they can just pick them off the top. The color is beautiful.


I knew this place would be a big hit with Phat Freddie and I also know I must go back and try breakfast. The cafe did not disappoint. We started off with one of their elixers, the Illumination. I love the presentation! The elixers are served in a champagne flute on a little plate that is garnished with fresh berries and...wait for it...dark chocolate. Fred is lucky he got any of it! I loved the light effervescence and slight tartness of the elixer. Dark chocolate and berries...what can I say? To add to the vegan excitement, they offer VEGAN lattes and capps, with a choice of several different non-dairly milks.


I didn't get pictures of our food today because we stopped in unexpectedly. Fred ordered the Maple Walnut Granola. I didn't detect any walnuts but there were pepitas present. I love pepitas. The granola itself was very tasty. Cassie, the owner, mentioned that there was a hint of cardamom in the granola. Cardamom can sometimes be overpowering, but it was very subtle here. The granola was so good! It was served with a ridiculous amount of fresh strawberries and the perfect amount of soy yogurt. 

I got the Lumberjack Sandwich. This sandwich is available in a vegan or non-vegan version. I obviously chose the vegan version. Like the BLT, this sandwich had the awesome tempeh bacon on it. It also had seasoned tofu, avocado, vegan cheese, and tomato. Fred and I shared both. I don't know if he noticed, but I was jealously staring at that sandwich as it disappeared into his mouth. So hard to share such good eats, even with someone you love! 

The first visit the food was very slow to come out. While the service was a bit slow, the staff was wonderful. The second visit the food came out quickly. The moral of the story here is that sometimes you have to wait a bit when you get such fresh and made to order food. Especially during busy times. It is well worth the wait. 

I am thrilled there is such a wonderful, fresh, welcoming, charming, vegan-friendly place so close to home. They try to use as much local produce as possible, which makes my little heart happy. For those of you who aren't in the Ahwatukee area, it is worth taking a trip down the I-10 to check it out. They are open for breakfast and lunch and closed on Mondays.

Pomegranate Cafe
4025 East Chandler Boulevard, Phoenix, AZ 85048(480) 706-7472

6 comments:

Courtney said...

Like woah. Those dishes look amazing! When I am in AZ I HAVE to try this place out!

Veg-In-Training said...

Absolutely! Let me know when you'll be here and I'll join you!

veganefcliz said...

What I wouldn't give for a place like that here!

Veg-In-Training said...

I can't believe how luck I feel! It's like winning the vegan/organic lottery.

Rikki Cupcake said...

eeeeee! i cannot wait to start working here...one more week!

Kenike said...

ARGH! Onr of these times I will get there.