Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dinner At the Steeping Room

Chris and I discovered the Steeping Room in Austin, TX completely by accident in October 2011. I had heard about this thing called Dogtoberfest that takes place at the Domain, a fancy, upscale shopping mall and development with stores, restaurants, apartments, condos, etc. Dogtoberfest is awesome; it's all for a good cause and hundreds (possibly thousands) of people show up for it. There's weenie dog races, photo booths, vendors, and street food. It's good fun for a good reason.

But in any case, we had grabbed a couple of sandwiches to go, found a bench, and fell in love. This past week will have only been our third time dining there, too. That's how excellent the food (and service) is.

According to the Steeping Room's website, "...for us, tea is about the uplifting experience of the leaves, the conversations that it inspires, the healthy lifestyle it promotes and the cultures to which it awakens us." This philosophy is also reflected in their menu, which features tofu, grains, and vegetables in addition to chicken, pork, and eggs. Their menu also includes gluten-free options and caters to any time of day. They even have vegan and gluten free cupcakes and cookies for dessert.

My beloved often raves about their "Baked Tofu and Tempeh Bacon" sandwich, which I almost ordered this time. When I saw the "Buddha Bowl" and its list of ingredients, however, I knew it needed to be mine. And I wasn't disappointed. It was HEAVEN. It filled me with warm fuzzies, made me hum, and I even swayed back and forth a little bit. How very zen inducing!

The grain of the day was red rice. Haven't heard of it? Me neither! But it was GOOD! And so was the peanut sauce I chose to drizzle all over it. That's something of note for me, by the way. I generally dislike condiments and am wary of dredging my food in sauces that come on the side, but I used almost the whole thing of peanut sauce on my tofu, veggies, beans, and rice. It was creamy and full of nuttiness.

My mom had ordered 100% vegetarian meals since arriving in Austin but was too scared to try the tofu that night. She got the "Buddha Bowl" as well, but with chicken and a tamari sauce. Of course, I let her try my tofu. She ate a bit of it plain first, chewing on it for a few moments before blinking in amazement and voicing some compliments to the chef. Then she dipped another piece in the peanut sauce and couldn't believe her tastebuds. Mom is officially no longer scared of tofu. I'm going to have to send her some recipes!

Of course, we ordered tea with our meals. The Steeping Room serves six different varieties of tea in a myriad of flavors like hibiscus, jasmine, English caramel, cantaloupe lychee, and so much more. Iced tea options may change daily. Chris ordered mint iced while I ordered hibiscus and mom ordered jasmine. She wasn't particularly fond of it (very floral tasting), but that was her only dislike during her whole vacation.

We ended our dining experience with three vegan double chocolate cupcakes. They were superb. Not terribly sweet but also not overly rich. The frosting was light and delectable. A real winner.

The Steeping Room is a great option if you're looking for a vegan-friendly place to hang out for the night. Order a pot of tea, maybe get some appetizers or a couple of cupcakes, and sit outside at the Domain watching people shop, walk their dogs, or socialize with one another. Sounds like a wonderful night to me!

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