Thursday, February 17, 2011

Green Cuisine food wagon – Hope this one lasts.

East side of Chester Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets, Little Rock

No phone

Other than some of the southeast Asian places around town, it can be challenging to find a tasty vegetarian meal. Since November 1, 2010, however, that situation has been improved by the arrival of the Green Cuisine food wagon, set up in a parking lot between Sixth and Seventh Streets just east of Chester Street. This review, such as it is, is based on a single visit to the place today, but, due to that visit, I hope the Green Cuisine finds an audience soon and lasts.

I had a Philly Cheese Portabella Sub, which was quite good and more than I could finish (could have used Circa Bellum’s legendary appetite and help). The sandwich came with a side order, and I chose the Quinoa Salad based on the owner’s recommendation. Her actual words were, “Do you feel like taking a risk?,” which sounded oddly like Clint Eastwood’s famous lines in “Dirty Harry,” i.e., “Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?” But I digress.

The Quinoa salad turned out to be interesting and very good. Pronounced "Keenwa," quinoa is a seed that is surprisingly flavorful. My Oxford English Dictionary refers to it as "Any of several annual goosefoots...."!! So, there you have it! Evidently, it tasted so good because the seeds are, in fact, very tiny duck feet! The Sweet Potato Slaw that my companion got with her Grilled Veggie sandwich was also quite good. We both agreed that the Philly Cheese Portabella sub had more flavor, but she wrapped up the remainder of her veggie sandwich and took it home rather than not eat it all. So that says something, too.

The Green Cuisine has drinks (water and teas, as I recall), and they take credit cards. There are also a couple of picnic tables nearby, so you can eat in the pastoral confines of the weedy parking lot, if you choose to.

The Green Cuisine lunch wagon is definitely worth a visit, but I have to admit a bias in wanting little places like this to succeed and add some variety to an all-too-limited local dining environment. So many restaurants today are bland, franchised operations that depend on people putting up with decidedly bad food in exchange for a bogus “experience” and simply not having/wanting to cook. But, at the same time, I recognize that nobody is forcing people to eat at these places.

To me, this is a very cynical business model, but that mentality pops up in the most unlikely places. To wit: using the restroom at Whole Foods grocery store today, I noticed a giant (perhaps, ostentatious and self-congratulatory?) “Core Values” statement on the wall. The first “Core Value,” evidently, of Whole Foods is to expand their operations through “increased profit and growth.” I had to read three more “Core Values” before I got to one related to “satisfying our customers.” Hmm. Most of them, in fact, dealt specifically or tangentially with improving “value for our stakeholders,” rather than trying to provide good products at reasonable prices for the people who patronize their stores and keep them in business. I was surprised. Makes one wonder if Whole Foods isn’t a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs.

Enough ranting. Try the Green Cuisine lunch wagon. As they say on their take-out menu, “You don’t have to be vegetarian, you just have to like to eat.” My sentiments exactly.

2/18/11 UPDATE:

I suspect they are doing okay as they were out of nearly everything when I got there a little after one. I wanted to try the behemoth sandwich that Joe Bob had written about above, but no luck. They were also out of the bleu cheese mac-n-cheese, which really sounded great. So, I went with the owner's recommendation of "the most popular item on the menu," the chipotle pinapple black bean quesadilla. And while I was waiting, she gave me a sample of "G's" Chili. Now I would never order vegetarian chili on purpose and wasn't about to start now, but I never turn down a free taste. This chili was surprisingly good. They got the texture just right, which is the thing I would worry about on the vegan version. I expressed my surprise at how much it seemed like it had meat in it and she told me it had no soy, but some esoteric protein that I would probably rather know less about than more. I'm okay with that, I'm not too squeamish when it comes to foods. A fellow customer commented that it would be really good on hot dogs, which made me giggle just a little.

So, she sent me away with a bowl of the chili gratis, since she said it wasn't really selling for some reason. I could have told her why I think it is, but I don't know her that well and strangers tend to not know how to take my viewpoints. Friends are even worse for that matter...

The quesadilla was good but not remarkable, but the chili rounded it out very well and I'm sure that I would not have been satisfied if not for the chili. I still want to tackle the Philly Cheese Portabella. - Bob Joe Circabellum


At 3:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to wash my hands at whole foods, but the sign said that employees must wash hands. I couldn't find any of them willing to help me. Terrible customer service.


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