I’ve been aware of the uptown restaurant Ecopolitan for quite some time. I always wrote it off as “way to hippy for me”. I knew they were a raw vegan restaurant and to me that was scary.
Meghan has been trying to get me to go there for awhile and somehow I managed not to schedule that gathering. However, with vegan lent , I knew it was bound to happen. So, Meghan, Willa and I (the MN vegan lent briggade) made a date to go check it out.
Ecopolitan is more than just a restaurant. It is also a Juice Bar, Wine bar and an Eco-shop. It’s a non-profit organization which promotes Eco-Raw Living, which according to their web site is an “educated lifestyle that harmonizes health science, nutrition, ecology, and community to promote a sustainable future on Earth” They provide many different Health Services, “uncooking” classes, lectures, eco-stay retreats and more. You can check out their website for more details, as I’m going to just focus on the food.
Meghan had eaten there before and couldn’t say enough about it. As a long time vegetarian, she loves that she can order anything on the menu without haveing to ask for modifications. I totally get that. I, however, was still skeptical. Mainly that I was going to stick out as a sore thumb.
So, how did it go?
Pretty well, actually. I’m not saying that I’m going to be going there on a weekly basis, but overall, the experience was better than I expected. The company helped, of course.
So, let me break this down….
Atmosphere: Ecopolitan is in an old house so that’s kind of cute. The two front rooms serve as the dining room and the kitchen and pre-made items and smoothie bar are in the back. The table and chairs reminded me of what I picked up at a garage sale to furnish my first apartment, but they seemed to fit well for this place. It was full the whole time we were there (on a Monday), but it wasn’t overly loud. It definitely has a laid back vibe.
Service: Here’s where they lost me. Our waitress was very nice and gave excellent recommendations. Can you sense a but coming your way? It’s a big one. Everything there literally moves at a snails pace. Maybe that’s supposed to be part of the charm, but it did not work on me. It took forever to get our main courses. In fact, in total our meal took 2 1/2 hours – and it wasn’t because we were gabbing away like crazy…it just took that long to get our food. What doesn’t make sense to me about this is that this is a RAW restaurant. Meaning – they didn’t have to actually cook my food, just assemble it. And, it seemed like many of the components of our dishes were likely made ahead of time. So, what gives? Does this laid back vibe mean slow-mo in the kitchen? Apparently. I probably wouldn’t mind had it been a Friday or Saturday night. But it was a Monday and I turn into a pumpkin at 9 p.m., so this really got on my nerves.
The food was tasty and very different. I really want you to be able to see what it looked like, but my photos are horrible. I’m going to show them to you anyway so you get the gist. Apparently the cough and cold I was suffering from made me forget the basic functions of a camera.
We ordered the Cashew “Cheese” Log for an appetizer. Here is the description: Rolled in sun-dried tomatoes, olives, & fresh basil. Served with balsamic onions & flax crackers. It tasted a lot like a vegetable cream cheese spread and it was pretty tasty with the flax crackers. I would have never known it was made with cashews.
We each ordered a different entree so we could all sample a few things.
My dish was the favorite of the evening and was a recommendation of our waitress:
ECO-SAUSAGE PIZZA – Macadamia-cashew “cheese”, walnut eco-sausage, bell pepper, marinated mushrooms, onion, & ginger marinara sauce.
It was so good and tasted and smelled a heck of a lot like pizza. If I go back, I’ll be ordering that again.
Meghan had the next best at the table:
PESTO PASTA – Pine nut pesto on zucchini noodles with tomato, bell pepper, marinated mushrooms, & walnuts. Served on balsamic- vinaigrette-dressed spinach.
The zucchini noodles were very fun and came with a lot less guilt than a pile full of pasta and we all really enjoyed the dish. It had plenty of flavor….thought not as much as my pizza.
Then there was Willa’s dish:
NOT-CHO “CHEESE” PLATE – Pine nut “cheese” on greens with bell pepper, cucumber, marinated mushrooms, onion, cilantro, cashew “sour cream,” & hot sauce. Served with eco-chips.
I think we were all most intrigued about this dish. It is served over kale so to me it looked more like a salad with a few chips on the side. More chips would’ve been welcomed at the table. My main issue with the dish was the spice. Now, I know I’m a wuss when it comes to spice, but I have gotten so much better the past few years. This, however, was way to much for me. One bite was all I could handle. Willa, the who has the ability to eat habaneros as a snack, didn’t have a problem with the spice, but it wasn’t her (or Meghan’s) favorite either. I don’t think any of us would order it again.
While we were eating we saw a gigantic sundae-type dish come out, so we immediately asked about it and then ordered it. Eating a raw food meal I think automatically means you get dessert.
We did check out the pre-made desserts in the case, but nothing really looked that great. Plus, I think we were sold on the sundae as soon as we saw it.
The parfait was whipped frozen bananas and strawberries that were served in a glass coated with a coconut-date spread and nuts. We all really liked it, but weren’t necessarily blown away. You could make something just as tasty (and maybe better) at home following this recipe as your base.
So, what’s the overall opinion?
Some may find it a bit spendy compared to other restaurants (my two pieces of pizza were $15), but they used quality ingredients so that certainly didn’t bother me at all.
I think if you are a vegetarian or vegan you will love this place and appreciate the options. You might like it on a more regular basis. I think it’s an interesting experience for others to try as well – especially if you’re an adventuresome eater. I would go back if invited, but because of the sloooooowwwwww service, I won’t be running there every week. Though if Meghan figures out how to make their pizza at home, I would be really happy.
I also realized I’m far from anyone giving me a “hippy” label, but I can happily be a guest among them.
Have you been to Ecopolitan or a similar type restaurant? What did you think?