Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Vegan in Tampa: Brunching at Meze 119

"Let me die in the old uniform in which I fought my battles for freedom, may God forgive me for putting on another."
-Benedict Arnold

Brunch was not originally in the plans for Z-Bot and I when we accompanied J-Fur across the bay a few Sundays ago. The two of us agreed that, while Momma ate brunch with one of her vegan co-workers at Meze 119, we would go on an extreme bird watching adventure. Everything was going according to plan. We had walked momma to her booth, left her with her co-worker, turned the stroller around and were heading out the door. But all of a sudden Z-Bot noticed a waiter carrying out a Belgian waffle. He looked at me and smirked. It was a smug one that seemed to say "Put a little food in front of a soon-to-be-three year old and watch how fast she goes all Benedict Arnold on you." Z-Bot looked at the waffle, then looked at me, then back at the waffle. When she looked back at me she gave me the ol' "Dada, I hungry." That was all it took. I melted into the nearest seat, grabbed a brunch menu and searched for the most treasonous dish Meze 119 had to offer.

Meze 119's brunch menu has a lot to offer vegans and their vegetarian counterparts. Some of the vegan options include a gluten-free, Belgian waffle that is topped with a raki glazed wild berry compote, a create-your-own tofu scramble, curried chikk'n salad and a falafel pita. On the Sunday we showed up, the vegan special was a cactus and chorizo breakfast burrito. I would've gone with that but because of the treasonous actions that had just taken place, I could not get passed the avocado benedict. I figured Z-Bot would go with the Belgian waffle, I mean it was would caused her to turn so quickly, but when I described the nutella crepes as a thin pancake with nutella on it she said, "Yeah, pancake." I tried to explain that it wasn't a "pancake" but she kept insisting she wanted a pancake. Thankfully, the owner (or someone who wields a whole lot of power at the restaurant), was sitting two tables over working on his laptop and he overheard our conversation. He said "We can make pancakes if she wants one." That's sealed it. She was officially a happy camper.

The first to arrive was the traitorous Avocado Benedict. The open-faced breakfast sandwich is created by laying two homemade crumpet halves on a plate. Each half is then topped with a slice of tempeh bacon, a block of fried tofu and a panko-crusted tomato. The finishing move is a healthy slathering of avocado hollandaise. I loved the combination of salty, crispy and creamy.

The Avocado Benedict

Next up were Z-Bot's pancakes. There were three soft and pillowy pancakes filled with banana and chocolate chips (instead of Nutella). A container of maple syrup was delivered alongside the pancakes. She loves "pancake sauce" so she poured a lot syrup overtop. I must say, for not being on the menu and being a last minute make a child happy dish, these pancakes were fantastic. They made her so happy. And I'm not talking about at just this meal. There was so much pancake that she ate them for breakfast for the next three days.

The Banana and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

This vegan benedict and (not vegan) pancakes were brought to you by the debut single from London debutants Junior Empire.  "West Coast" is a breezy track, that incorporates a slight pop punch driven by a hard hitting drum beat, a kaleidoscope of dreamy piano, euphoric violins, simmering guitars and rainbow blasted synths. If that doesn't speak accidental brunch or traitorous menu items well then I don't know what does. The London five-piece said that "West Coast" was written "about our first time living in LA. Open roads and the underlying feeling that nothing is permanent and a vacuous future of endless opportunity awaits. In other words when you've just become single….”