Where yesterday, someone actually said goodbye to us with, "Y'all come back, now!" It has happened several times since, and continues to be disarming and lovely.
At the risk of sounding patronizing (those Southerners are just so fascinating!), I am completely charmed by the hospitality and friendliness of the South. I adore it. And it's home to The Wild Cow, a vegetarian restaurant serving everything from veggie burgers to fresh-daily vegan pastries.
We start with the Vegan Queso, served with tortilla chips and house made salsa filled with fresh vegetables (carrots? they really worked here). Also popular is the hummus plate, but given the choice of spicy, oil-swirled vegan cheese and everyday hummus, I choose the former every time.
The Philly Cheesesteak is a house favorite, and I order mine served with Spicy Kale, perfectly cooked kale with chili flakes and peanuts. The sandwich is piled high with seitan and peppers, and topped with vegan cheese sauce. Unless you specifically request dairy cheese, everything at the Wild Cow is vegan. This is a trend in several otherwise-vegan restaurants, like Doomie's in Los Angeles, and it's hard to imagine that dropping the dairy would make these restaurants any less popular.
The daily special is Bahn Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich served on a French roll, garnished with fresh vegetables. This one is excellent, filled with perfectly-seasoned seitan and topped with a radish-pear relish, cucumbers, cilantro, and vegan sour cream. There's Vietnamese Noodle Salad on the side, and it complements the sandwich without any redundancy in the ingredients. Would it be wrong to cofess that my eight-month-old, who up to this point I have carefully shielded from all things wheat and peanuts, loved this dish containing both with such reckless joy that I let him eat the better portion of it? So good.
We order a glass of the house hard cider, Wandering Aengus, and it is dry and not too fruity.
And desserts, baked daily by Karina and ViVi. The front counter is piled with cakes, pastries, and raw cheesecakes, displayed like a Southern bakeshop. We order a slice of Fuzzy Navel, spongy chocolate cake with peach filling and orange-tinged icing. We also order a Sweet Potato Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting. And a doughnut. (But it's made with flaxseed and tastes very healthy, so I'm not too concerned about that last one.)
My plan for Nashville was to simply eat loads of fruit, purchased from local farmer's markets. I'm happily doing that today (local peaches! tomatoes!), but I'm so glad we didn't miss The Mad Cow. It's vegan (well, almost) done right: fresh, unfussy, and tasty.