Um, you guys, it has been over a month since I wrote my last review. We’ve had a lot of busy weekends lately! Summer break is here, though, so I’m hoping to get to some outside-of-Hamilton-County places that you guys have recommended to me. We contemplated a few different vacation destinations but I think we’ve settled on doing some mini-trips, some just day trips and some overnighters, to see more of this great state in which we live….but we decided to start the summer off with a trip to Cashew, a vegan restaurant in Coolidge Park.
According to Amy, the incredibly friendly hostess/cashier/server who greeted us and took our order, Cashew has been around since September 2013. I have heard several wonderful things about it but because of its location-set back a little into a recessed area in the building in which it is located-I had never actually laid eyes on it. For some reason I started thinking about it recently and have been thinking about it for the last couple of weeks.
When we arrived, Amy immediately greeted us and we stood at the counter and perused the menu while she explained the brunch special, a burrito with black beans, tofu scramble, and roasted vegetables (served with garlicky kale and fresh fruit). The menu was divided into soups/starters, salads, kids’ plates, sides, plates, sandwiches, and drinks. Philip got water while I was drawn to the bright pink hibiscus-berry tea behind the counter. For $1.50 I decided to go for it. It was unsweetened but delicious-I love flowery drinks.
Philip asked Amy for recommendations. She pointed out the polenta stacks on the starter menu as a great appetizer option, and just based on the menu description I had to agree, so I ordered it. The menu describes the polenta stacks as “rounds of organic polenta & sweet potato topped with roasted portobello mushroom, fresh tomato, and walnut-basil cream sauce drizzled with balsamic reduction” for $8.75. There were three on the plate, each topped with a gigantic basil leaf. The polenta was warm, cut into a round and stacked with all the other ingredients. The walnut-basil cream sauce was delicious and the combination of all of the ingredients was pretty much sublime, including the balsamic reduction (and I am not really a huge fan of balsamic vinegar…but it was perfect here).
Amy also recommended the Thai loaded sweet potato (the menu features a selection of loaded white and sweet potatoes…I love loaded potatoes so this was perfect for me). I always feel like I should take employee recommendations unless they are for something that I just don’t like, so I decided to get this potato for $5.65. The Thai loaded sweet potato features shredded carrot, chopped cilantro, and chopped green onion with peanut sauce and sriracha. I never would have dreamt up this combination in a million years, but it was pretty much one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. The peanut sauce was amazing and paired perfectly with the sweet potato. The shredded carrot added a little crunch while the cilantro and the sriracha added a little hint of spice and flavor (though this was definitely the kind of dish that got hotter as I ate it…but it was not overpowering, and I am a spicy-food-pansy so if you don’t do spice you could definitely do this). My only regret is that I ordered the full potato-I didn’t realize how big it was. With the polenta stacks, the potato ended up being so filling that I couldn’t eat much of the second half. A half of any of the loaded potatoes is featured on the sides menu.
Philip decided to go for the special, which turned out to be a pretty gigantic tortilla wrapped around roasted vegetables (including broccoli, potatoes, and onions), black beans, and scrambled tofu. It was well seasoned and the flavors went together well. He did not love the kale, but that’s just because he doesn’t love kale. It was tender but still a little firm with a mild garlic flavor and just the right amount of seasoning. The fruit was nice and fresh and there was a decent amount of it (who else hates the dreaded fruit cup with a pound of melon, half a strawberry, and two grapes?).
There were quite a few desserts in the case and Philip decided that we needed to get something to bring home to pair with our Saturday afternoon coffee. There were cookies, vanilla cupcakes, gluten-free doughnuts, raw cheesecake, and Oreo brownies, but since we had a stop to make after we ate we decided to go with some desserts that weren’t too icing-y. We got a brownie and a chocolate chip-banana bread pudding. The brownie was very chocolatey with a cake texture and since it was clearly baked in a pan with individual cups for the brownies it had a great chewy texture all the way around….but the bread pudding stole the show for me. It was perfectly sweetened (as in just sweet enough) with lots of mini dark chocolate chips and sticky slices of banana mixed in. I am going to have to make this at home. It was so good.
We aren’t vegan but we do really like great vegan restaurants, which are definitely not abounding in Chattanooga. Cashew fits the bill with a varied and delicious menu and an extremely friendly staff (in addition to Amy, we also met the owners, Bailey and Christiana-sorry if I spelled anyone’s name incorrectly!). It’s a small but bright and inviting space with cool artwork. They are devoted to providing diners with as many local, organic, and high-quality food items as they possibly can. I want to go back ASAP!
Cashew is located at 149 River Street, Chattanooga, TN. You can call them at (423) 355-5486. They do not have a website but you can like Cashew on Facebook. Cashew is open Tuesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 3:oo p.m., Friday 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday 10:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.