Thursday, July 24, 2008
Who: Senior Editor Elizabeth Castoria + Editorial Assistant Lisa Mickleborough
What: Dinner date
Where: The Usual Suspects Café in San Francisco, Calif.
When: July 17, 2008
Why: To check out the Russian revolution in North Beach
The Scoop: Abuzz since it opened its doors in May of this year, The Usual Suspects filled the retro-veg-diner void the tummies of hungry SF vegetarians have long been grumbling for. Yelpers, bloggers, and other members of the local vegeratti flocked to the deco, rockabilly-styled hot spot, churning out glowing reviews of their pasta, burgers, wraps, and pizzas. But as word that there had been a sudden chef and menu change, many fickle fans abandoned their new favorite watering hole on less-than-reasonable grounds. Sure, ordering borscht from a hand-written menu and eating it next to a jukebox is all a little strange (after all, the American '50s and Russia don't exactly jive), but the restaurant's identity is still in development. What've they already got down pat? Welcoming service, and a now-vegan menu updated daily according to what's freshest at the market—and it's all prepared from scratch by recent Russian immigrants. People, it's authentic vegan Russian food! From the land of fur and kasha!
On this particular evening, we enjoyed their amazing, creamy-garlic Eggplant Rolls (seriously, order 18 of them), filling and savory mushroom and potato Vareniks, followed by gooey chocolate blintzes. Made fresh with wholesome, rich ingredients, we left feeling sated, spoiled, and suspicious about what this unusual spot has in store for us next ...