I have to admit that the name put me off a bit. Even as a vegetarian — a picky one at that — I don’t like eggplants, especially not ones that glow in the dark. The Atomic Eggplant, however, helped me to explore a more tasty and healthy side of vegetarian and vegan cooking.

Located on a side street off trendy Monroe Avenue, Atomic Eggplant is one of the few restaurants in the Northeast specializing in solely vegetarian and vegan cuisine.

Atomic Eggplant is set among a row of older houses. The restaurant sits unassuming, covered in snow like the buildings beside it. The only giveaway is the purple and green interior that can be seen through the door– well, that and the giant sign out front.

Modified from a house, Atomic Eggplant still captures the familiar feeling of home, with its low ceilings and wood floors. Continuing this theme, my table had pictures of family pets placed under the tabletop glass, along with odd trinkets like a miniature garden gnome.

Going along with the rest-aurant’s theme of homeyness, the food has a primal, earthy feel to it. The miso soup is delicate and light, with a good base and well-prepared tofu. The hummus is also well-prepared. While perhaps a bit salty, the hummus is served on a layer of lettuce, with pitas on top. While not amazing, these “starters” serve their purpose, being light enough to enjoy without filling you up.

The entrees, however, are both unusual and delicious. The coconut curry sauce, for example, contains an assortment of vegetables and tofu in a sweet, light coconut curry with basil and lime. The dish more than satisfies — it delights.

One of the daily specials — a grilled tempeh with coconut sauce, roasted red potatoes and grape leaves — was a bit heavy, but was thoroughly enjoyed.

Fortunately, their portions are huge. The “City” was right — if you go away not full, it’s your own fault. The portions are absolutely huge for every dish, from the linguine in chipolte sauce to the barbecued tofu.Not only that, but the prices are relatively inexpensive for dishes using natural food products. A dinner for two with appetizer and dessert ended up being slightly more than $30.

Despite the minor imperfections — which I chalk up to the added customers from Valentine’s Day — The Atomic Eggplant was an immensely enjoyable experience. The familiar atmosphere, the mouth-watering food and the cheap prices make the restaurant one of Rochester’s best places to eat.

Even if you’re not a vegetarian or a member of UR Veg, expand your horizons and try a meal at Atomic Eggplant.

Schnee can be reached at cschnee@campustimes.org.



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