Vegan fare that’s non-vegan approved

Columns Lite Bites

September 7, 2014

Story By: Yu Shing Ting | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

No doubt, the opening of Greens & Vines two years ago was a dream come true for many vegans here. However, it also has become a favorite for countless non-vegans.

Locally owned and operated, the upscale, raw, vegan gourmet restaurant is conveniently located at 909 Kapiolani Blvd. (across from Neal Blaisdell Center), and offers lunch and dinner, along with an amazing wine list (by the glass), sake and beer.

For those who can’t decide on what to order, owner Sylvia Thompson suggests a mix of appetizers for your meal. A must-try is Zucchini Unagi ($10.50), which features zucchini that has been marinated and dehydrated, nori (to look like unagi skin), and is served with cauliflower sushi rice with shiso leaf, lotus root and pea sprouts.

Also popular is Crimini Escargot ($10.50), consisting of crimini mushrooms that act as “escargot,” sunflower seed croutons, macadamia nut garlic “butter,” a sprinkle of shallots, parsley and micro greens.

“This dish was inspired from a French wine class,” notes Thompson. “The mushrooms are dehydrated, so it shrinks down to look like escargot.”

The owner also recommends Olive Tapenade ($10.50), showcasing green and black olives, garlic and capers on a bed of diced avocados and locally grown tomatoes, served with flax seed crackers.

The restaurant also recently started offering happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except on the second Saturday of the month, when the eatery hosts Jazz on the Patio from 3 to 5 p.m. with happy hour going from 3 to 7 p.m.

“I was thinking of ways to get the word out that we have wines,” says Thompson. “I was surprised when people said, ‘Oh, you have wines. I didn’t know that.’ I said that’s what Vines stands for, and they would say, ‘Oh, I thought it was for tomatoes.'”

The happy hour menu includes high-end wines, sake and beer, as well as pupus such as Falafel Boat ($4.50 happy hour), a dish Thompson created while attending culinary school in California.

“We were running out of food (at home), so I started pulling from the freezer, and we had bought a dehydrator,” recalls Thompson. “The falafel is made out of almonds, and then it has basil, cilantro and mint. There’s tahini sauce, marinated sweet onions and grape tomatoes.”

Starting this month, the restaurant also has expanded its Saturday hours by staying open between lunch and dinner. Next month, there’s a second anniversary celebration Oct. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet and performances by top jazz artists. Cost is $65 per person, and reservations have already started.

Sylvia and her husband, Pete, became vegans in January 2004 — about a month after Pete had a heart attack. After researching ways to reverse his heart disease, Pete read a book by Dr. Dean Ornish, and decided to adopt a vegan diet.

At first, doctors told him he would be on medication for the rest of his life but, according to Sylvia, 18 months after becoming vegan, Pete’s doctor stopped his medications. Sylvia also has dropped two dress sizes since becoming vegan.

“When we became vegans, I had to eventually learn how to cook,” says Sylvia, who also is a real estate agent. “(For those who aren’t vegan or haven’t been to Greens & Vines) come visit us at the farmer’s market, so you can try our food. Sometimes people go straight from the farmer’s market to our restaurant. They tell us, we just came from there, we like your food.

“There are a lot of vegans and people becoming vegans, but you don’t have to be vegan to like our food.”

Greens & Vines

909 Kapiolani Blvd.
Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch)
Monday-Friday 5-9 p.m (dinner)
Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Closed Sundays

Honolulu, HI 96814

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