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Each of the three dishes was delicious: The fake fish that was folded into the chalupa shell was made from unripened jackfruit (native to Southeast Asia and the national fruit of Indonesia), which is used for savory dishes before it ripens and becomes sweet. The chalupa was slathered liberally with VanPelt-Belle's proprietary cashew cheese, a spicy neon-orange concoction that looks like a cross between Velveeta and finger paint but tastes very good. Scott was stunned by how fishy (phishy?) the fruit looked and tasted. The rice-mushroom blend used for the meatless tostada also looked and tasted like the real thing.
"Do non-vegans come here and eat and think they're actually eating meat?" I asked VanPelt-Belle.
"All the time!" she said and laughed. "We get more non-vegan diners than vegans."
I'm a big tofu fan, and the sautéed squares of milky tofu, infused with red-pepper flakes and piled on a bun with lettuce and onion, were wonderful. I was less entranced with that day's dessert, a vegan "brownie" that was more cementlike than chewy, although the cashew-milk soft-serve ice cream and the dairy-free chocolate and caramel sauces were extraordinary.
Dinners, served only on Thursdays and Fridays, haven't really caught on yet but should. My friend Truman raved about the silky gazpacho, which Devlon (rhymes with Revlon) concocted from apples, oranges, lemons, garlic, beets, tomatoes, fresh ginger and peppers. "It's divine," Truman said, savoring each spoonful.
Light jazz played over the sound system, and VanPelt-Belle brought out a big portobello-mushroom wrap for Truman and a chalupa made with her faux-meat concoction that was simmered in a rich and intensely flavored mole sauce — she uses cacao nibs to create it — and served with lots of fresh guacamole. It was messy to eat but fantastic. We didn't have time to stay for dessert, but I took along a wedge of freshly baked banana-walnut bread and ate it in the car going home. Great!
My friend Carol Ann was completely charmed by the Saturday brunch at Füd. She had gone to yoga class that morning and was ready, she said, for something healthy for breakfast. She had a colorful medley of sautéed chard, onions, peppers, tomatoes and meaty portobello mushrooms, and I ate the tofu scramble, which looked and tasted like scrambled eggs, served with an excellent old-fashioned biscuit that I slathered with a fake butter (Balance) that tasted an awful lot like the real thing.
I had never tasted meatless biscuits and gravy and was glad that I settled for a half-order of Füd's version: a hefty, moist biscuit generously ladled with a deftly seasoned mushroom gravy that was as robustly hearty as any local diner's sausage gravy.
"Everyone in here," Carol Ann whispered across the table, "looks so healthy and attractive!"
"Except me," I said, taking another bite of biscuit and gravy. Needless to say, I didn't go to yoga class that morning. I didn't ride my bike to the restaurant like the tanned Adonis sitting at a café table outside. I wasn't wearing workout clothes like the stunning young brunette dining with her mother at the table to our right.
I was definitely the slob in the room, but at least I was eating all the right stuff for a change. And for me, that's at least Füd for thought.