I have a confession to make: I don’t know tofu from tempeh.
So it was with trepidation that I took my two kids, ages 9 and 5, to lunch at Jazzy Veggie, a vegan restaurant on Main Street.
I was put at ease immediately by the restaurant’s casual atmosphere. Bright red plastic chairs surrounded tables perched on a lively tile floor. Potted palms flanked the front door and earthy colors covered the walls and ceilings.
The food is ordered at the counter, and we stepped up to see what was appealing. What I saw was surprising. There were burgers, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and enchiladas. I noticed fries, crab cakes, and grilled cheese. This was a vegan restaurant? Indeed it was. Owner Ananth Pullela, who opened Jazzy Veggie in late 2010, offers classic meat dishes sans meat and other tasty creations that just happen to be vegan as well.
General Manager Tim Leonard walked us through the restaurant’s most popular choices. There was the Bello, a sandwich of marinated and grilled portabella mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella-style cheese (made with tapioca and vegetable protein) with chipotle aioli. The Southern Spice Wrap, another favorite, includes grilled veggie chick’n slices, peppers, greens and chipotle aioli. Then there was the Wolverine, which I ordered – a marinated and grilled veggie patty with sautéed onions, roasted peppers, guacamole, and tomato basil aioli on an organic whole-wheat bun ($7.50). I also got a side of baked sweet potato fries with balsamic ketchup ($3.95).
The kids’ menu included cheese quesadilla ($5.95), pasta marinara ($5.75), cheese pizza ($5.25), and a grilled cheese sandwich ($4.95) served with coleslaw and plantain chips. My son chose grilled cheese while my daughter picked cheese pizza.
Right about now you might be wondering how a vegan restaurant can offer cheese pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. Jazzy Veggie uses Daiya cheese, a dairy-free product that is made from tapioca and arrowroot. Daiya cheese looks and melts just like dairy cheese. Turns out it tastes like cheese, too, as my son can attest. He wolfed down his grilled plant-based cheese without complaint.
My 5-year-old was a bit pickier with the cheese pizza. “This one tastes different,” she said. “It has veggies.” There was a preponderance of chunky tomato sauce and only a dusting of cheese. She ended up sharing her brother’s grilled cheese.
“This is made with real wolverine,” I told my son as I bit into my burger.
“It is?” he asked, eyes bulging.
I smiled and kept smiling as I ate my burger. It was satisfying and tasted, well, meaty. The tomato basil aioli sauce was flavorful, more so than the guacamole, which I barely tasted. My sandwich was accompanied by sides of plantain chips and coleslaw. The chips were crunchy and salty, but not sweet as I expected. The coleslaw was crisp and light with dressing that enhanced rather than drowned the cabbage. The crinkle-cut sweet potato fries were my favorite. They were sweet and salty, both complimented by the tang of the balsamic ketchup.
Dessert was either chocolate or carrot cake. The kids chose chocolate. It was drier than a regular chocolate cake, but delicious nonetheless considering it lacked butter and eggs. Maybe I could survive without animal products after all.
Jazzy Veggie delivered a tasty meal that my non-vegetarian family mostly enjoyed. The restaurant’s plant-based offerings delighted the latent veggie foodie in us all.
[The Short Course]
1. Kid-friendly: Yes
2. To avoid wait: It’s a casual, counter-service restaurant.
3. Noise level: Medium
4. Bathroom amenities: No changing tables in Men’s or Women’s
5. High chairs? Yes
6. Got milk? There is no dairy at all in the restaurant. Soy milk is used in some dishes. They also have organic tea, sparkling drinks, and cherry and banana lemonades.
7. Kids’ menu? Yes
8. Anything healthy for kids? Everything!
9. Food allergy concerns? There is no dairy, many items are gluten-free, and other allergy concerns can be accommodated. Food can be prepared separately and ingredients are available for perusal.
Jazzy Veggie 108 S. Main Street Ann Arbor, MI 48104 Phone: 734-222-0203 Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-9pm; Sun noon-5pm jazzyveggie.com
Katy M. Clark is a freelance writer from Saline.