Laughing Seed Cafe

As AY was quick to point out this week when we were trying to decide which restaurant we should review next, Laughing Seed is one of the Grande Dames of Asheville’s burgeoning vegetarian food business.  One of the oldest and most established veg restaurants in the area, Laughing Seed has a little something for everyone.  If you have adventuresome meat-eaters in your group, they’ll probably walk away happy as well.  Laughing Seed shoots for a fusion approach that does not lose old non-veg standards like the Rueben or the Sloppy Jo.  You can get several different varieties of foods from different ethnicities, and even make Aunt Louise from Arizona happy because there will be enough familiarity there to persuade die-hard carnivores to try a bite.  No mere veggie burgers and sauteed tofu over rice here, mind you.  No Siree.  Here, you will be looking at a gourmet meal, prepared as a treat for your eyes as well as for your mouth.

When we arrived fairly early on a Thursday (for downtown Asheville), we were seated immediately at a nice table in the middle.   We only had a minute to take in the artistic decor and abundance of green plants before our server arrived to get us started.  Laughing Seed may have gone through a few growing pains for a few years there where the service wasn’t completely up to par, but they’ve definitely ironed out any issues in that area.  We couldn’t have asked for a more professional, friendly, and attentive server.  But as usual, I digress.

AY – Yes, I was happy to finally get to review the Laughing Seed.  Scoops gets more excited to review non-vegetarian restaurants that (maybe unexpectedly) have vegetarian options; and I am more excited to support purely vegetarian restaurants. As Scoops stated, the Laughing Seed has been around for a long time and has changed for the better over the years. At times, the Laughing Seed can be quite busy and seating hard to come by; but we must have picked the right time to be there. The ambiance at the Laughing Seed has always been pleasant and their outdoor seating is very popular during warmer weather.

We started off with an appetizer of vegan Crispy Asian Dumplings, which I’m pretty sure AY chose because it was at the top of the list (just kidding, AY!).  They were good, but as I arrived at the restaurant with minimal appetite, I really didn’t get enough of a taste to be able to rate them properly (certainly not for want of AY trying to get me to try some more).  I’ll leave that to AY.

AY – The Crispy Asian Dumplings were definitely “crispy” and were served on a bed of raw vegetables and wasabi ponzu sauce. I can’t say I was very fond of the texture and flavor, but I was hungry and forged ahead until they were finished.  Scoop’s hubby, (who was with us) said the filling reminded him of an unsweetened version of the filling found in Baklava. 

I had the Autumn Risotto as my meal.  It was a mix of seasonal autumm veggies (awesome, since it’s no longer Autumn), which included wild mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and a bunch of other autumnal veggies, topped with Smiling Hara tempeh.   It was tasty, but not fantastic.  It was, however, both vegan and gluten-free.  I found the dish to be a trifle bland (maybe I should have just added a little salt?), and found myself eyeing AY’s seitan steak covetously instead.

AY – Yes, Scoops was eying my vegan Pecan Crusted Seitan, which she had enthusiastically recommended.  She definitely knew what she was talking about because I loved it!  As described from the menu: “Served with brown sugar and curry mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed kale, and a maple-porter gravy. Garnished with siitake bacon and a cranberry pomegranate reduction.” I couldn’t have described it better myself . . . excellent!  The entree was well balanced and easily digestable.

But then, we were on to my favorite part–desserts!  We each got a different one (but of course), the better to try out as much of the menu as possible.  (At least, that’s what we told ourselves.)  I had the Apple Toffee Pudding Cake with vegan vanilla ice “cream,” which definitely did not disappoint!  The cake was moist with just the right amount of chewy-crunchiness on the crust to give it a good texture.  The vegan ice cream was a nice complement to the cake and rounded out the tastes well.  My husband had the Five Spice Chocolate Chestnut Torte, which featured chestnuts and Chinese Five Spice Powder, which was unexpected to say the least.  It did have a nice spiciness to it and was elegantly rich.  His dessert was gluten-free, while mine was vegan.  AY tried the Carrot Cake, which he found was too heavy on the “icing” part and not his favorite.

At Laughing Seed, you will find a wide variety of vegan and gluten-free options, along with some raw dishes for those who prefer them.  Laughing Seed is one of the best restaurants in the area, in our humble opinion, whether you eat exclusively vegetarian or not.  If you haven’t been there, do yourself a favor and put it on your short list of places to try in the very near future!

2 Responses to Laughing Seed Cafe

  • Hanna Goss says:

    Enjoyed the Laughing Seed the one time I ate there, and you make me want to go back. Thanks for another awesome review! PS I didn’t get my email, which I have received in the past when you all post. Not sure if the problem is on my end or yours, but thought I would mention it. Thanks for having this blog! You provide very refreshing reviews.

    • Scoops says:

      Thanks for commenting, Hanna! I’m not sure about the email part…our webmaster says he hasn’t done anything different with the site, so maybe you wouldn’t mind letting me know if it happens with the next post, too? Glad you enjoyed the review!

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