11 August 2012

Arlington: Busboys and Poets

This meal was made possible by true vegan boss Caryn Ginsberg, author of Animal Impact and activist extraordinaire.  Half of what came out of her mouth during our one-night stay with her were questions like, "Anybody want a refill on their banana-date smoothie before I make another one?  Oh, and by the way, would you like me to make coffee for you or can I give you a map and directions to Starbucks?"  She even asked me what my favorite animal is!*  I'm totally geeking out about her.

Like she EVEN PAID for this meal on top of hosting us.  Who DOES that?

Busboys and Poets
4251 S Campbell Ave
Arlington, VA  22206
(703) 379-0007

Busboys and Poets is a cool local chain that has the feeling of Panera, but 10x more authentic and 1000x better food.  So not at all like Panera. Ew.  God.  Panera.

The GF and vegan items on the menu are clearly marked.  You have tons of choices, including a vegan tuna salad!  I stayed away from that one this time.  I've never even had tuna.  (Can you blame little meat-eating-before-age-12 me for staying away from that SMELL?)  But I'm intrigued.

At this point, I'm afraid I must share some bad news with you. I have some creepy food pictures to show you!  I'd been trying to use Matt's infrared camera on its normal, non-creepy setting, but alas.  Perhaps I should have just used the creepy setting, because some of the pictures turned out creepy anyway, even with Matt's best anti-creepy Photoshop skills applied.

I got the Vegan Pepperoni Calzone for $12.  Yes.  A vegan calzone!  In a legitimate restaurant, not my hodgepodge kitchen!  Can you believe the food industry these days?  The calzone contained sauteed onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms, all coated with melty-delicious vegan cheese and jiving with perfectly seasoned vegan pepperoni.  The whole wheat crust was delish and the marinara for dipping sublime.  I'd been worried the thing would be to heavy and dense, but the veggies balanced that expertly.  It was very tasteful Italian done right.

Caryn - who, by the way, is a raw vegan marathon runner (HOW COOL IS THAT) - got a $6 House Salad.  Could've used more tomatoes or something, but the avocado certainly had a positive impact.  She also had the Yellow Gazpacho for $7.  Pretty!  It was blended rather than chunky, except for the guac mixed in.  Uh, yum!  Avocados save the day again.  That soup was fantastic.  And you definitely do NOT want to see that picture.  You'd never eat soup again.

Dorothy declared that her Tempeh Panini, $9, was one of the best things she's ever had.  In her life.  So she, in her own words, wound up shoving it unconsciously into her mouth.  Her bacon tempeh, especially with the phenomenal roasted bell peppers and extra avocado she requested, wound up tasting incredible, like a BLT but vegan and a grillion times better.  So not really on the same level as a BLT.  Like.  At all.  Ew.  The whole thing was salty and creamy in perfect balance.  Oh, and her side salad was yummy too and stuff.

There were FIVE options for vegan dessert, you guys.  And I didn't decide to kick sugar till the following day, so this was my last big indulgence.  The decision was made easy when our server mentioned Rocky Road Cheesecake for 7 bucks - the room went quiet.  I could hear my heartbeat.  Beads of perspiration sprang up across my forehead.  In the voice of triumph itself, I proclaimed, "I'll have one slice of vegan Rocky Road Cheesecake please, and could I aso get a little more water and maybe a napkin?"  Applause from all corners.

The slice was perfect.  Smooth and creamy, with a nice subtle, blooming chocolate flavor.  That vegan whipped cream added another lovely layer of taste.  I don't even like whipped cream.

Dorothy's brownie a la mode for $6 presented the best that our vegan brownie world has to offer.  It was dense, chewy, and full of chocolate chips.  The authentic vanilla ice cream, which tasted almost disturbingly like dairy ice cream, set off that deep chocolate flavor like the wind sets off a glider.  In a good way, not a crashy way.

That was a meal I'll hold dear in memory for life.  Especially the part where the cheesecake made me delirious.  (Is it MY fault the Olympics were on in there?  I think not.)

* Cats.  Always and forever, cats.  I am constantly fighting the impulse to have 10,000 cats.


  1. Alli Kins,
    are you going cold turkey on all refined sugar? Or just eating considerably less?

    1. Cold turkey. Although to be honest, I don't feel any different - probably because I hadn't been eating that much anyway. I might redact that decision. Why, are you thinking about changing your sugar intake?

  2. Well. Not really but I would like to eat less. I think honestly sometimes it's easier to eat Considerably Less with something like sugar than go cold turkey... it's easier to go out to eat, and you don't have such a huge burden of changing your character 100%, ya know? Also have you read the NY Times article on sugar is toxic?

    1. You're right, Considerably Less is easier. I mean, to be honest, cold turkey wasn't that hard - but it's only been 9 days, so who knows? I haven't read that NYTimes article, but I will, right now! Have you read The Kind Diet? I couldn't put it down.