Earlier this week I woke up very hungry from a nap. I dreamed about Homer Simpson and PETA, so it became one of those moments when you just want to eat something vegan. Like tofu fish, tofu chicken or tofu beef. Or wheat germ. Just nothing with a face, like fish, chicken or beef. Or cobb salad.
As I was walking to Elaine’s Healthy Choice, I couldn’t help but wonder — why is your restaurant so far away? Seriously, it’s beyond Staples. The world as we know it ends at Staples. This wouldn’t really matter if your target population were the inhabitants of Whalley Avenue. But they aren’t.
Three times, Elaine, three times you asked me “how to spread the word about [your] restaurant in Yale.” You even gave me menus to show my friends and officially asked me to tell them to come. Not cool.
But enough of that.
Yes, the interior is a bit bare. Yes, there are only two tables.
Elaine’s food, though, is probably as amazing as vegan cuisine can get.
The first thing I noticed as I walked in were two pictures displaying an exotic variety of fruits and vegetables.
“You don’t have many options when you’re vegan” Naomi Chou ’12, who accompanied me, said, “It’s not like they’re going to have a picture of a pig being butchered. They can’t even put up a picture of an egg, or a glass of milk.”
Neither of us would have imagined that such a small place could have more than 20 items in its menu (including first plates, soups, salads and sides) and that everything we ordered would be so good. Never mind that Naomi found a crunchy rock-like particle in her rice.
All dishes come in small ($6.95) or large ($8.95) portions, with a complementary side of vegan wild rice. Soups ($4-6) come with a warm bread bun and vegan margarine. Salads ($5.65) come with their respective dressing.
The price/quality ratio seemed pretty balanced, although a bit more tofu chicken curry and a bit less wild race wouldn’t hurt.
The highlights of the meal were the “Vege Chick Bites Curried,” the “Macaroni & Cheese,” the “Vegetable Soup” and the fact that I got to know Elaine herself.
Everything was made with the right amount of spices and achieved an authentic flavor. The curry was thick and not overly salty, and the vegetable soup reminded me of home. What I enjoyed the most was that Elaine’s selection is not trying to disguise the taste of tofu or sell animal-flavored stuff. And, well, that Elaine was the nicest person I have met in a while.
She started her small business with the help of her husband in January, and every day she commutes from Hamden “to supply the growing demand for a healthier lifestyle” in New Haven, as she states on her Web site (elaineshealthychoice.com).
I’ll admit: I like meat. And cheese. Naomi likes meat and cheese, too. But we couldn’t have left Elaine’s Healthy Choice more satisfied.