In which I just keep (gladly) handing Unbakery and Juicery $20 bills
Convincing me to try Brookside’s new Unbakery and Juicery took only three words: raw pad Thai.
I know vegan chefs are basically wizards, capable of concocting familiar flavors out of seemingly disparate ingredients — cashew-based cheese, for instance, or scrambled eggs made of tofu. Still, I wasn’t sure how the Unbakery would pull off raw noodles, an essential component of pad Thai.
In hindsight, the answer is obvious — and delicious. Atop a bed of impostor noodles made from tamarind-marinated seaweed, the ready-to-eat dish is packed with a colorful medley of fresh fruits and veggies: zucchini, cabbage, carrots, Granny Smith apples and orange bell peppers, topped with almond-chili sauce and Brazil- and cashew-nut brittle.
I had intended to eat only half of the pad Thai, but it was so tangy, light and refreshing that I couldn’t help devouring the whole thing. I stopped just short of licking the sauce from the plastic to-go container.
By offering a healthy, primarily vegan grab-and-go lunch stop — complete with a drive-through if you’re really in a hurry — Unbakery is contributing to the revival of that particularly vintage Brookside corridor along 63rd Street between Main and Troost. Owned and operated by Robin Krause, former owner of the Filling Station, and her husband, Danny, Unbakery is helping to turn east Brookside into a lunchtime destination.
The café also offers a variety of fresh-pressed juices. I tried one of its three varieties of green juice, which come in thick glass bottles with an appealingly simple design that makes you want to drink it in public, where other people will notice and be impressed with your good taste. Combining lemon, ginger, cayenne, parsley, cucumber, celery and spinach, the beverage I chose was smooth and refreshingly spicy.
Less refreshing: The total price for the pad Thai and juice was more than $20. But the food and juice were good enough that I knew I’d be back soon. Later that week, I went back to try the citrus juice, which is sandwiched on the shelf between the green and root-vegetable juices. (On a gray winter day, the palette of juice colors here might be the warmest, most soothing sight you see.) With grapefruit, mint, lemon, aloe vera and honey, the peppy pink juice lit up my taste buds and bolstered my diminishing afternoon energy reserves.
To go along with my juice, I picked up a falafel wrap: carrots, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, kimchi, almond-zucchini spread and tiny heart-shaped falafel patties atop a pancake-sized collard green leaf. According to the cashier, the falafel is made through a complex raw processing system, but I missed the details because I blacked out when I forked over yet another twenty.
Of course, the falafel wrap was delicious — the kimchi was crisp, and the falafel patties had commendable texture. So back I went a third time, to try a dessert — of sorts. I settled on an energy bar containing goji berries, sesame seeds and dates, among other ingredients. It wasn’t an easy choice; I’d also strongly considered a hemp-seed bar and several different macaroon variations.
As I devoured the energy bar in my car, wiping my sticky fingers on my jeans, I made a joyous discovery: goji berries kind of taste like Cap’n Crunch. But this lunchtime indulgence — not a word you typically associate with raw vegan food — won’t leave you calculating how many hours you’ll need to spend on the treadmill later. Instead, it makes you believe in small, goji-berry-sized miracles.