Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NOLA vegans on the inside

Last night Johnny and I were finally victorious in our quest to try out Basil Leaf, an uptown Thai restaurant located at the corner of S. Carrollton Avenue and Jeannette Place. I say “finally victorious” because this was our third attempt to eat at the seemingly often-closed restaurant. (I thought to call ahead this time!) But our two previous trips had not been in vain – each ended with a jaunt across the street to make the acquaintance of Lebanon’s Café, which turned out to be such an awesome find, it is deserving of a tangent. I asked our server there what she would recommend that we could eat, and almost fell out of my chair when she said she was vegan too! There’s nothing like that to put a couple of vegan diners at ease. In our two trips thus far, we’ve taken her advice and ordered the musaha (a deliciously spicy appetizer of sautéed vegetables), the vegetarian grape leaves (decent, I thought), the vegetarian plate (satisfying renditions of hummus, baba ganuj, tabouleh, and falafel served with pita bread - the kind of stuff vegetarians get tired of, but it was still good), and the lentil soup (SCORE!). And it was super-reassuring to be able to get a thumbs-up from a vegan on the inside. You’re probably thinking, Duh, it’s hummus, the one food that can’t NOT be vegan, but a Middle Eastern restaurant in Dallas ruined that delusion for me. If you're reading this, Ali Baba on Abrams Road, putting yogurt in hummus is a sacrilege!

So we couldn’t believe our luck last night when our server at Basil Leaf turned out to be vegan too. My first reaction was Omg! Infiltration is underway! My next reaction was Wow! Check out this guy's hair! "Jeremy" assured us he would guard against fish sauce in anything we got, so we ordered soup, veggie spring rolls (which we dipped in an exotic plum sauce and a scrumptious peanut sauce), and mussaman curry. Overall and with the exception of the sauces, we weren’t too thrilled with our choices, and especially since everything was a little pricey. It was nice to have a sympathetic server, though, especially one with a fabulously funky hairstyle. If someone else is paying next time, I'll try the panang ($17!).

Conclusion du jour: Every restaurant should have an in-house vegan!

Basil Leaf ~ 1438 S. Carrollton Ave. 70118 ~ (504) 862-9001
Lebanon's Cafe ~ 1500 S. Carrollton Ave. 70118 ~ (504) 862-6200