The Vegan UnVacation with @VeggieGrill and @MMASpdx

Welcome back dear readers! I have now been in Portland, OR since we touched down on July 3, 2013.  I did the first two weeks alone with three kids and a rental car at the Courtyard Marriott in Beaverton, OR.  The train that ran right by our window and the sprinklers that went off at 3 am did not help our situation which was one tired mom and three kids in a queen room. To say that our hotel stay was a vacation would be a lie.  I saw plenty of families enjoying their “weekend” vacation, we met them in the small indoor pool (I would like to add that their hot tub was permanently out of commission) throughout the two weeks and they were all blissfully away from their homes.  Maybe my problem was I no longer had a home to go home to?

The staff was very friendly but the location was more appropriate for business travelers, there was no continental breakfast and instead an upscale bar area; however, we were only 10 minutes from Washington Park, the Zoo and the Children’s Museum.  We also found some great local places such as My Masterpiece Art Studio.  Alex took a 4 day three hour summer camp on comic book illustrating for $185 and we did some drop in studio with the Sampler Pack (3 pieces of paper and a lump of clay) which may not sound like much but it was able to keep 3 kids busy for 1.5 hours at a price tag of $18. Although I am sure most parents will love the fact that MMAS does not require the children to clean anything up, I still tried to force my kids to wash their brushes and clean their stations.  For moms and dads looking for a great activity that will nurture brain development, hand eye coordination and art appreciation this place has it all.  They also do birthday parties. We witnessed one during one of our trips to the studio and the kids were having a blast!

Regularly we ate at Veggie Grill because it was 2 miles away.  We ran into it by accident looking for a local grocery store chain.  When the grocer didn’t have the treats we wanted we drove through the parking lot and found the recently opened location.  Veggie Grill is a faster food restaurant similar to Native Foods but less greasy and less expensive for the kids meals.  The serving sizes are also larger for the kids meals. Full size portions are equal to, sometimes slightly smaller than Native Foods, but the big plus factor is consistency. I have eaten there more than a dozen times and it is the same quality each time, I could never say that for Native Foods which sometimes tastes as if it is a different recipe and other times is inconsistent in content (more or less seitan, etc).

My gluten and garlic sensitivity shifted into full swing when I was face to face with all the delicious options.  By day four when I could barely stand up straight I decided to ask what options there were that were garlic free, lo and behold (gluten free is readily marked) they also have a garlic free menu!! I have been rocking out with the All Hail Kale salad, I love the tangy mango dressing and their tempeh is pretty good as an addition, the cauliflower mashed potatoes and the Bean Me Up Chili. My kids love the “chikin’” fingers and that is saying a lot.  As Alex told their manager, “They have great texture” and come with a side, dessert and a drink for under $6 (other kids’ items available).

What Veggie Grill does lack is diversity in its menu – there are a lot of “chickin” items and sparse dessert options.  The BIGGEST disappoinment was in their downtown Portland location.  We ordered the “Grilled Cookie” dessert “handcrafted chocolate chip cookie, griddled and topped with chocolate pudding, VG Crema and chocolate sauce” notice that nowhere in there was mentioned nuts.  But YES, this is a chocolate chip nut cookie.  When I brought this to their manager’s attention (since DH is allergic to ingesting nuts) she haughtily asked if we had mentioned a nut allergy. No, we didn’t because nuts were not mentioned on the menu. She refused to refund the item so we left it uneaten.

Now, the Beaverton Veggie Grill is a different story.  I FORGOT, yes me – my fault – to say no gravy on the mashed potatoes, it came to the table with gravy and I know the manager overheard me mention my stupidity in forgetting this fact to my husband and my request that he eat the potatoes so they not go to waste – not two seconds later a second cup of potatoes arrived gravy free – now that is how you handle customer service and why I drive the extra 10 miles out of Portland to eat at this Veggie Grill. Plus the manager looks like Owen from Drop Dead Diva and I have a thing for celebrity spotting even if they are look a likes.

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