Friday, September 5, 2014

Jazzy Veggie

Jazzy Veggie
108 S.Main St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104
QISA (3.5,4,3,3), $9-13, Vegan

If Ann Arbor were a person, she would undoubtedly be that girl you wish you could have dated back in high school if only you had the nerve to ask her out. Ann was pretty, funny, quirky, whip-smart, sarcastic, gregarious, earthy, and cooler than you could ever hope to be. She rarely wore make-up or fancy clothes, and she was never part of the popular crowd. Yet somehow she always shined and was always surrounded by friends. She was always just arms reach out of your league but you were happy to spend time in her presence and were thrilled that she knew your name. Ann Arbor was just that cool.

As a college town, Ann Arbor stands out among other college towns. It is more active than Bloomington, IN, more laid back than Boulder, CO, and less sunburnt that Austin, TX. Ann Arbor is a mid to small size town of 116,000, yet it has all the cultural trappings you would expect, including science museums (e.g. The Hands On Museum, specialty food shops (e.g. Cherry Republic), and specialty book stores (e.g. Aunt Agatha’s). It hosts the University of Michigan, which I believe is considered a religion unto itself complete with deities, holidays, and sacrificial rites. Furthermore, it has two vegan restaurants and at least three ovo-lacto vegetarian restaurants.

Perhaps it is due to my romantic infatuation with the city, that I expected so much from Jazzy Veggie. I certainly respect and appreciate the restaurant’s premise: vegan comfort food. And to be absolutely fair, Jazzy Veggie is a very good restaurant that I will undoubtedly visit again. It just isn’t a “fantastic” restaurant.

I opted for the Wolverine sandwich, which contained veggie beef in Mexican marinade, sautéed onions, peppers, guacamole, lettuce, and chipotle aioli on a whole grain bun. The sandwich came with soup or a house salad; I went with the split pea soup. I added a side of coconut curry vegetables, not because I truly needed more food, but because I was curious how they turned steamed vegetables into comfort food.

The Wolverine was less exotic than it sounded, falling into the Boca burger classification of meat analogs. It was pretty good, but in the end, it was basically a Boca burger with fixings and a chipotle special sauce. The split pea soup was tasty and well spiced without being too salty, but it was not out of the ordinary. The vegetable side comprised broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot, steamed till just fork tender, and served in a mild curry sauce. I appreciated that they did not overcook the vegetables, a common mistake in most restaurants, but frankly I would have liked them cooked just a tad more and served with a spicier or more flavorful sauce.

I realize that I have only scratched the surface of their menu. I definitely want to go back and try out their Grains & Greens (e.g., Inca Queen: red quinoa pilaf with black beans, fire roasted poblano, tomato, corn, served with sautéed balsamic greens and vegetables), pizzas (e.g., Sweet Sicilian: smoked apple sage veggie sausage, caramelized red onions, mushrooms, basil, tomato sauce, vegan mozzarella), and other sandwiches (e.g., Spicy Sensation: chipotle veggie sausage, onions, and peppers in black seasoning). Perhaps with increased exposure, I will discover that I underrated the restaurant based on one mediocre experience.

On the other hand, perhaps I will discover that they are exactly what they advertise to be: vegan comfort food. Comfort food is never meant to be overly exotic or fancy. Comfort food is meant to be good, solid food that makes you happy and wanting to come back for more.

Kind of like this city.