It’s a good time to be a vegan in Louisville.
In the coming months, three new vegan restaurants are set to open, each focused on the kind of tasty, stick-to-your-ribs food that isn’t commonly associated with a plant-based diet.
First up is Flora Kitchenette, a brunch spot on Barret Avenue. The kitchenette is the next evolution from Flora Vegan Bakery, which has been supplying an array of local coffee shops with tasty baked goods for the last year or two.
Insider has followed Flora through the long process it took to open the brick and mortar. First, owner and operator Isabelle Forbes was in a serious car accident when she was hit on Eastern Parkway, and then when she had finally recovered from her injuries and was almost ready to open, another car drove through the front of the Barret Avenue space.
The good news is Flora is finally open, and from my preliminary investigation, it’s completely worth the wait. The menu so far only features eight hot items, but additional foods are being rolled out slowly, so expect it to grow. And, of course, there is always an array of cookies, donuts and pastries, which changes regularly.
I’ve eaten everything on the menu. While it’s all tasty, there are a couple of items that are a little pricey for what they are. Some vegan cooking is very labor intensive, which translates to a higher ticket.
The Lox Toast is twist on the fishy favorite made with pickled carrots standing in for the lox and a cashew spread standing in for the cream cheese. As said, it’s tangy and scrumptious, but at $9, it’s the most expensive item on the menu. The pancakes also are delicious, but two pancakes for $8 is a little much.
Given what I know of vegan cooking — almost everything has to be made from scratch — the prices are fair for the labor, but with the relatively low cost of the rest of the menu, I doubt I’ll be ordering either of these again in the near future.
The low prices on the many other items make it easy to mix and match. Maybe you can’t choose between the avocado toast and the biscuits and gravy? Now worries — at $5 each, you can have both, though you’ll likely be taking a little something home for later. The avocado toast has the right amount of citrus tang and salt to accompany the natural fatty goodness of the avocado. The gravy needs a little extra salt, but then it’s just right.
Whatever you order, do yourself a favor and also grab a breakfast savory patty for $2. The spice blend is perfect, and while the texture isn’t quite sausage-like, it’s fried up so it has a nice crisp outside and a pleasing inside texture, too.
The savory patty — like the lox toast — comes at vegan cooking with what I believe is the right approach. It doesn’t try to replicate the meat product, rather it asks what pleasure and palate centers that meat touches, and then hits all those spots.
The results satisfy the umami craving without making you miss meat. I suspect it also is distinct enough that an omnivore could appreciate it on its own merits.
The biscuits deserve a few words on their own. They come with the aforementioned biscuits and gravy or on their lonesome with some jam. Either way, they are fabulous. Do be prepared for what kind of biscuit it is, though. It’s what we called “drop biscuits” in Alabama, a mixture of flour and water that isn’t kneaded or rolled, just mixed up and dropped on the pan.
I love that style of biscuit just as much as the regular kind, but I can imagine someone expecting the fluffy version and being disappointed. Regardless, get one of these and put a savory patty on it, and I can’t imagine you’ll be sad at the result.
But the menu item I suspect I’ll be eating on a bi-weekly basis for the next several months is the breakfast burrito. I’m a sucker for a breakfast burrito, but after extensive home research into how to make a perfect vegan breakfast burrito, I was ready to be disappointed by Flora’s iteration.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that while this version differed greatly from what I had decided was the “correct way” to make a breakfast burrito, it’s a completely different kind of perfect. It’s made of refried beans, fried breakfast potatoes and scrambled tofu chunks.
The potates are crispy and salty, and the tofu spice blend is so good, I hope they roll out a stand-alone tofu scramble soon. It’s served with a side of salsa. The refried beans held the affair together and supplied the tasty gushiness of a cheese or cheese substitute without upping the price the way it did on the Lox.
So at $7, I can get a burrito and a donut while keeping my bill under $10. For the record, the burrito is plenty of food for a meal, but I am monster and there are donuts. I regret nothing.
An additional perk at Flora, aside from the vegan food, is the excellent coffee and tea. Forbes worked in coffee for years and, as a result, may be brewing what is currently the best brunch coffee in Louisville.
Regular readers may recall that I take issue with most of the coffee at Louisville brunches, and it’s always a great pleasure when I can order a cup with my meal and not be angry or disappointed at what is served to me.
Here’s hoping the quality of the brew stays up, even if an increase in business keeps Forbes from personally overseeing the coffee.
I could write another full review about the treats and pastries, but I’m out of room. Just be sure to pick up.
Flora Kitchenette is an indispensable eatery for local vegetarians and vegans, and open-minded omnivores will be pleasantly surprised to find the fare is savory, sweet and satisfying. Hours are Monday and Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. It is located at 1004 Barret Ave.