ecoRDN loves to take walks that end in plant-based foods being shoved in our gobs. One of our favorite walks has always been from the city of Pittsburgh, crossing the Highland Park bridge to get to the quaint little town of Aspinwall. Before 2012, living in Pittsburgh, the walk would take us to the Waterworks Mall. There we often read or drew in Barnes & Noble while getting jacked on coffee with no vegan fare around but a lowly protein bar or snack from Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. My how times have changed! Aspinwall now has an amazing all vegan restaurant, Randita’s, offering lunches Monday through Saturday and weekend dinners Friday and Saturday. They also have a food truck located at Aspinall Riverfront Park.
Randita’s founder Randy Cinski‘s mission statement regarding plant-based living: “Randy’s entire life has been devoted to animals and their welfare. She attended veterinary school and went on to work in animal hospitals and the Pittsburgh Zoo, as well as to volunteer in animal rescue. As a mother of four children, she became concerned with the food her children were consuming. When she learned that meat products can contain substances such as antibiotics, hormones, painkillers, and caffeine and various other substance, she decided to make changes. With the desire to find a path for her family that was both nourishing and compassionate, a vegan diet was a natural transition. Randy’s main goal at Randita’s is to help people to adopt a healthy lifestyle free from the misconception that you have to sacrifice taste to respect your body.”
A review of lunch and dinner on two separate occasions:
The lunch menu is a static menu consisting of soup of the day, salads, wraps and sandwiches served Monday-Thursday 11am – 7pm, Friday and Saturday 11am – 5pm.
Lunch: Seitan reuben with greens, veggie burger with greens, chocolate peanut butter cake, coconut cream pie.
The reuben is a classic, and Randita’s shaved corned seitan w/ sauerkraut, 1000 island, house made cheese on rye was toasted to perfection in a press and had the right amount of salt and brine mixed with rich creamy and crunch.
The house made grain and bean burger is served on a whole wheat bun (or brown rice tortilla) with a choice of two toppings and a side. ecoRDN opted for fresh spinach and cheese with a side of creamy coleslaw. The burger was perfect, and a nice touch. Good to see housemade patties over prepackaged, and better to eat them when executed well. The cheese was Daiya, and although we occasionally use the brand in our own cooking at home, Daiya has a distinct flavor, so the mouth is aware of Daiya, and can be a little intrusive over the other flavors. The bun was soft and chewy and the coleslaw was perfect, creamy crunchy and sweet with cabbage, carrot onion and chopped pickles.
Dessert is the most important meal of the day for ecoRDN and we were ready to take on the chocolate peanut butter pie and coconut cream pie like bosses. First the chocolate peanut butter pie, it is freakin’ amazing. Everything is right with this pie from the marriage of cocoalicious creamy chocolate and rich peanut butter to the sweet, chewy base. A wonderful dessert for plant-based peoples, so get on it! The coconut cream pie was just as tasty but not exactly what we envisioned. We hoped to see a faux-meringue, or some such facsimile, but the pie is served sans “meringue” instead topped with toasted coconut. The pie itself is well executed but we were excited for something else. Had we ordered a “coconut pie” perhaps our expectations would have meshed. But all-in-all the desserts are a solid addition to our plant-based roster. Great Job, Randita’s!
Dinners are served Friday and Saturday 5pm-9pm. The dinner menu changes weekly and offers three entrees to choose from.
Dinner: seitan picatta over mashed potatoes w/ green beans, ginger apricot tofu over rice with roasted cauliflower and broccoli.
Seitan piccata, capers and kalamata? Yes please! The savory winey gravy with salty bite was lovely, the sliced seitan tender, and all atop a savory mound of fluffy mashed potatoes. Served with blanched green beans. A very good meal, warm on a cold night (If I recall, the temperature was in the 20s, the comfort plate was welcome). The plate arrived a tad watery, perhaps it sat for a moment too long before it arrived at the table, the condensation from the potatoes mixed with the gravy and the end product was a little loose, but the flavors were spot-on!
The ginger apricot tofu is served over a bed of blended rice alongside roasted cauliflower and broccoli. This was an interesting dish, with the addition of mustard (perhaps dijon?) the nice almost-wasabi hit mingled with the peppery ginger rounded off by the smooth, sweet apricot. The vegetables were roasted to perfection. Our only gripe with this meal was the rice, just a little overcooked and not seasoned enough. We realize this is a small thing to nitpick, and it certainly didn’t ruin the experience, but for the sake of full disclosure we wanted to remain objective. An extra pinch of salt and the rice would have been perfect. The tofu planks were tender and toothsome and did well to absorb the fragrant complex gravy.
Overall the experience was wonderful. The ambience at Randita’s is cozy, the staff friendly and a lovely added touch to the evening meal was the live music performed by Randy’s husband Dale, he spoke with the diners as he played music on his guitar and created a homelike feeling for ecoRDN, it felt like we were all having an extended plant-based family meal together, very cool!
It’s wonderful to have so many plant-based options. Continuing the move forward and upward are the many plant-based and vegan friendly eateries throughout the city. It’s great to be plant-based in Pittsburgh!
Thanks For Reading, Eat Well!