Week One: Inspiration Week
This week is all about using different things as your inspiration for great food.
Gaithersburg, Maryland, is not exactly what I’d call a vegan hotspot. Sure, we’ve got the standard veg-friendly chains (Chipotle, Cava Grill, Noodles & Co.), a few Mexican restaurants where you can cobble something together, a Chinese joint with a more than respectable vegan menu, and the Beyond Burger-slinging newcomer Barking Mad Café, but that’s about it. There are no 100% vegan joints, and we’ve got to head out of the city limits to experience most of my favorite veg-friendly establishments.
But! There’s a newcomer to the veg scene. (At least, it’s new to me.) A few months ago, Steven was browsing ye olde interweb when he stumbled across a review of a nearby restaurant.
“Have you ever heard of Hot Breads in the Kentlands?” he asked.
I had not. The Kentlands is a nearby planned community, with mixed-use buildings and a walkable town center and one of my favorite veg-friendly Thai joints, but I hadn’t heard of any place called Hot Breads.
“It looks like it’s got a ton of vegan Indian food,” he said, browsing the menu online. “And… wait, vegan cakes and pastries?!”
He had me at “vegan cakes.” We tried Hot Breads and were delighted by it. The cakes were just OK, but the main meals? They were fantastic. So, with our newfound appreciation for authentic Indian food (and my promise to take Steven out to dinner for his 30th birthday a few weeks ago, a promise delayed because we were fostering a puppy who couldn’t be left alone for too long), we hit up Hot Breads again last week.
Both of us ordered a masala dosa. Despite the sunken appearance of the one on the right, they came out lovely and crispy, stuffed with a potato and pea filling and served alongside coconut chutney, a tomato-y sauce, and sambar. Steven also ordered chili idli. Look how cute these mini idli are!
Despite the cashier warning us that the chili idli would be very spicy, we both found them quite mild. The sauce was also quite sweet and almost ketchup-y. Steven didn’t care for it and I was neutral, although the flavor did get to be a bit much after a couple of bites.
Although the online menu doesn’t indicate which items are vegan, the cashier who took our order (it’s a fast-casual joint) was able to check with the chef to verify which items were OK. Pastry case items are labeled clearly. While I didn’t get a dessert this time, Steven got a strawberry cupcake to go and reported that it was quite tasty.
So, Hot Breads? A definite jewel in Gaithersburg’s veg-restaurant-scene crown! :D