One of the first questions many people asked me when I told them I was moving to Minnesota from California was about food. Were there going to be fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter? Most importantly, would I have enough options as a vegetarian? While the first can often be lacking, to my pleasant surprise, I have found that there is much to offer in the way of vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly dining in the Twin Cities.
The first restaurant I have chosen to review is J. Selby’s, a plant-based eatery located on Victoria Street, not too far from Macalester. The restaurant opened in April of 2017, and every time I pass the restaurant, it is packed with people. The restaurant has a fun atmosphere with huge windows and bright walls. It is designed with many communal tables as well as smaller tables dispersed throughout the space. When I went, the place was packed with people of varying ages and ethnicities. For me, this was a good sign, showing their food served a wide variety of tastes, and not just those you would expect to see at a hip vegan restaurant on a Saturday evening.
My friend and I both chose to order dishes without meat substitutes, although many of their dishes have these incorporated, such as their range of meatless burgers and sandwich options. While both of our dishes were without meat substitutes, the menu overall has a lot of options that do come with meat substitutes. If you are not a fan of soy protein or other meat substitutes, your choices will be a lot more limited. The dishes we chose to sample were the Mediterranean bowl and the chickpea sandwich. The Mediterranean bowl was a room temperature bowl with falafel, quinoa, red pepper, tomato, cucumber, onion and kale, with tahini lemon garlic sauce, kalamata olives and their vegan feta cheese.
Overall I was very impressed with the food. The bowl was very clean and healthy tasting, yet flavorful and extremely satisfying at the same time. The portion size was ample, and the falafel was very crunchy and rich with flavor.
The chickpea sandwich deserved an overall good review. However, if you were hoping for a wide palette of flavors in your sandwich, this might not be the best option for you, as it was simply a mixture of chickpeas and spices. Again, the portion was well-sized, including the side salad that came with the dish. The salad was simple, yet fresh, complemented with what appeared to be homemade croutons and a choice of dressings to accompany it.
Since it is a relatively new vegan restaurant, my opinion was that it is definitely a success. A great atmosphere, not too expensive, and good portion sizes that appeal to a wide variety of people in the Twin Cities. I would definitely eat there again, and maybe check out their weekend brunch menu while I am at it!