Dining: Randita's Organic Vegan Cafe
Although the name Randita's Organic Vegan Cafe implies a special class of dining, the menu can be enjoyed by just about any palate.
Many of the entrees mimic the hardiness and texture of meat-and-potato dishes familiar to carnivores.
Randita's has restaurants in Saxonburg and Aspinwall. Riding the healthy-food movement, Randita's began food operations out of a truck in May 2012 and continues its journey to provide organic and vegan food to special events throughout the region, says owner Randy Cinski, 55, of Middlesex.
She owns the business with her husband, Dale Cinski, an artist and musician who was playing beautiful acoustic-guitar music during a recent dinner at the Aspinwall location, which opened in December. The couple's first restaurant opened in 2012 on Saxonburg's Main Street.
Randy Cinski seeks a broader audience than just vegetarians and vegans. And she is finding it.
“We see the vegan, organic people. They live that lifestyle, and they are thrilled to find us,” she says. “And we have foodies who like the fresh ingredients.
“But we have people who are trying to change their health and diet.”
Randy Cinski says a plant-based diet can dovetail with a efforts to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
The mood at Randita's is laid-back, clutterless and clean.
Although both restaurants are small with wooden tables sans tablecloths, the dining rooms have an open, but still intimate, feel.
Along the crimson walls are paintings, photography, pottery and sculpture by local artists. All of the art is for sale. Of note is a metal sculpture of a tree by Sam Andrew of Fawn,who displays his work in Saxonburg and elsewhere.
While limited in selection, all entrees are made from scratch using organic and vegan ingredients.
“I try to do down-home favorites like hot sausage, tacos, barbecue — things that a meat-eater is craving or is used to,” says Randy Cinski. “But we do it plant-based.”
Patrons have kept the restaurant's African peanut stew ($5 for small, $8 for large) on the menu because it tastes like a traditional stew, with its mix of sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, coriander and peanuts.
The Awesome Mixed Green Salad ($9 large) lived up to its name with unusually fresh salad greens that were tasty and still had snap, making for a surprising winter sampling. The lemon-tahini dressing was smooth and not tart.
The Sage-Seared Tempeh with Red Wine Cranberry Sauce ($16) featured a perfectly balanced blending of sweet and sour with a wisp of sage.
The Malai Kofta over Wild Black Rice ($16) went down like a stew of meat and potatoes. The hearty chickpea, vegetable and toasted-almond dumplings were satisfying. The spiced cashew cream sauce with peas and cilantro gave the whole dish some Indian-inspired zing.
The coconut cream pie vegan ($4) — that's right, no eggs in this version — was fresh, with nice-sized chunks of coconut. It didn't hold together like the traditional pie made with eggs, but it had excellent flavor.
The Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie ($4) was smooth and dense, a natural for a vegan dessert that is everybody's favorite.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or email@example.com.