I have a thing with vegetarian and vegan restaurants… the fact that their food usually is filled with so many substitutes or tries to use so many “exotic” ingredients that the flavor is not there. That’s why I sometimes prefer to just go to traditional restaurants and navigate through their menus to find something delicious yet still suitable for me to eat. Funny… but sometimes I’ve found a great meal in a steakhouse… the best baked potatoes and salad you’ve ever tasted!!! But that’s another subject…
Last month I was in Miami with my mom visiting my sister and coincided with my mom’s 67th birthday. My sister decided we should celebrate her by going to dinner at a vegan restaurant in Ft Lauderdale called Sublime. I have heard of this restaurant before, but hadn’t had a chance to go up there. And from my feelings above, I was a bit wary of what we would find there…
The ambiance at Sublime is really nice… low lights, nice décor, small tables for 2 or 4… like any fine dining restaurant should be. The music was nice and the bar area looked really nice. Sorry I do not have pictures because the low lighting does not allow for nice pictures with or without flash. Sublime is a vegan restaurant… so even though they do not serve any animal products or any eggs or dairy, they do serve alcohol and chocolate, which are not included in the line of vegetarianism I usually follow. Just wanted to clarify…
It’s so refreshing to go to a fine dining restaurant that you know that you can eat EVERYTHING on the menu… it’s now a matter of what you like and what you’re in the mood for… not a matter of what can I have, what questions should I ask the waitress, will it have bacon? But still, I was careful to check out if the food will taste good…
The menu is large… but not unmanageable. They had appetizers, a “sushi” menu, salads, pizzas and main entrees. I ordered a “Sublim-ade” which was their featured non-alcoholic drink – really delicious limeade. I can’t remember if I had one or two. We were in the sharing mood, which was wonderful for this article – I had a chance to taste what Vanessa (my sister), Wichi (my bro in law), my mom and I ordered… and this is what we had:
Crispy Eggplant Rollatini
We ordered this to share for all 4. This was really good even though the cheeses in the filling were not made from milk. The eggplant seemed it was fried in panko breadcrumbs. It was not hot in temperature, but it was really delicious. I would have ordered another one just for myself had I known what you’ll learn later on…
Soup of the Day – lentil vegetable soup with chickpeas
This is the only thing I did not taste. Wichi liked it a lot; so did Vanessa. The taste was very authentic according to them.
Florasian Sushi Roll – made from rice, tempura avocado, vegenaise, mango and toasted coconut.
My sister ordered this for herself because she’s “eating for two”. She wasn’t planning to share, but she was in for a surprise.
I do eat often regular vegetable/vegetarian sushi made at traditional Japanese sushi restaurants, so I have a good comparison point… this tasted interesting, to say the least. My sister tasted the coconut, I did not. Nor did I taste the mango. The avocado was good, but I never knew if it was tempura or not. What difference could it make??? To me these sushi pieces were too chewy for my taste… I would not order them again. Sorry…
For main entrees, we had:
Pizza Margherita Classico
My brother-in-law ordered this… I was also considering it too. The taste was good – the tomato sauce was a bit sweet, the basil super fresh and the “mozzarella cheese” did not taste plasticky. Now, the crust left a lot to be desired… and to me, the best torture test of a great pizza is the crust. It was kind of soggy and burned. So it was OK, but we’ve had better.
Portobello Stack – a Portobello mushroom cap filled with sautéed spinach and topped with slices of red potato. It was served with gravy and a side of “smashed” cauliflower.
My mom ordered this… and this was very delicious. I really enjoyed the few bites I had. I am not a fan of gravies, so I found the taste a bit bland. The spinach and mushroom had enough moisture that the dish didn’t feel it needed a sauce. Now, the cauliflower did need a bit of help. It was dry and bland. It felt as it was raw cauliflower shredded and put on the plate. It did not taste as if it was cooked, mixed with something liquid to soften – like “milk”, “butter”, “sour cream”, or stock at least. Maybe that’s the purpose of the gravy on that plate.
Sublime Loaf –a mock “meatloaf” made of lentils, brown rice, water chestnut, accompanied by Israeli couscous and grilled asparagus
My sister ordered this… I was never a fan of meatloaf when I ate meat, so I have no real point of original comparison here. To me it was no show-stopper… it tasted OK with the not-so-interesting gravy mentioned before, definitely not something I would order the next time around. The Israeli couscous tasted just like plain boiled pasta without any seasonings or flavorings – a missed opportunity in my opinion. And the grilled asparagus, to me, were the best thing on the plate.
By process of elimination, what did I order??? You might be asking yourselves… Well, I originally ordered the Ravioli – house-made pasta, spinach “ricotta”, slow-roasted tomatoes, garlic confit, herbs… doesn’t it sound good??? I was soooooo looking forward to the roasted tomatoes and garlic confit… Well, something happened in the kitchen that they could not bring me the ravioli. They had me order anything else I wanted from the menu, compliments of the chef. When I was perusing the menu, two things jumped at me… the side dishes, so I ordered the mac and “cheese” with the olive oil mashed potatoes. I figured if I ordered side dishes, the plates of the other people would not get too delayed.
NOT!!! I have a master’s degree in whipped potatoes with olive oil… I make these for myself all the time. These mashed potatoes tasted NOTHING like the ones I make. They looked old, mushy, and were bland. I had to sprinkle salt from the salt shaker and I never do that in a restaurant. But these were REALLY bland. And at some points it seemed as if these were left to dry for a while in a kitchen corner, because they tasted dry, dry, dry. Apparently the olive oil they use there is neither Spanish nor Italian… because I could not taste it at all.
And the macaroni was a complete mistake… it was bland and you could taste the “cheese” was not real cheese at all. And I have made vegan pastas before, I know they’re a challenge, but you can achieve success if the right ingredients are used. Not here… we all tried it and no one liked it at all.
Now for the desserts… this was a celebratory birthday after all, so we needed some sweets to finish off the night.
My mom ordered this one because she is a strawberry fan. It tasted really delicious and we enjoyed the strawberries were mixed in with the cheesecake and not just something on top. The almond crust was also delicious.
Chocolate Nirvana Cake
Like I said, the restaurant and some of my dinner companions are chocolate lovers. And me, being a choco-holic in a “12-step separation program”, we ordered this chocolate cake. It had a coffee-flavored Kahlua “butter creme” and dark chocolate ganache… I only had a few bites because it is not often I can taste cakes without eggs in any restaurant… so a little chocolate was not going to stop me. This cake was awesome… one of the best things we had all night.
Our compliments to the pastry chef… certainly.
So, after all this review, what’s the VEREDICT:
Sublime is OK, just not awesome. I will go back again and try some of the other dishes on the menu… but now knowing what to stay away from. I would like to try those ravioli the next time, certainly… and maybe some of the other appetizers. The frito mixto certainly was calling me a bit.
But if you’re in the Ft Lauderdale area or just visiting like we were, give Sublime a try. Just stay away from the mac and mashed potatoes, OK?? Deal…