ByChloe (NY, USA)

Hi my dear ones,

I am back with another hotspot review. I have so many long over due posts (very diverse in nature) to share with you. I have been making a greater effort to be more present in this platform but it’s been busy lately, so please bear with me. Writing and sharing content here is something I really enjoy doing and something I want to make more time for. It is certainly not easy with my full-time Finance job, which entails working long hours during some weeks but hey, I am not complaining at all. I love both my job and this creative outlet. I just need to find greater work-life balance that allows me to do both. I am sorry for not being able to share my experiences as they happen but I hope that is not a reason to put you off from reading my blog posts.

Now, let’s get into today’s hotspot review.

I went to NY with my boyfriend last September for my 26th birthday. This was for sure one of the most memorable trips I have had so far. I loved every moment of it and we got to explore so many different areas of the city, such as Manhattan, Brooklyn and Ellis island.

Naturally, we also got to try plenty coffee and food spots (something we both love to do together) and it was so much fun!

One of the food spots that was on my list was ByChloe, a plant-based restaurant with locations in NY, Rhode Island, LA, Boston, Toronto, and London. I have actually tried to visit one of their restaurants during my last trip in London but, sadly, I could not make it. However, since this is an American restaurant chain, I am actually glad I got to visit it during my stay in the US.

Location and atmosphere

We visited ByChloe, situated in Rockfeller Plazar, and this is the perfect location if you want to quickly get something to eat before or after going to the top of the Rockfeller centre (or before AND after like it was our case haha).

The inside of the restaurant is fairly spacious, with loads of room to sit and eat in, and it has a super chilled vibe. Luckily, there was no line in either of the two times we got there but the scenario might be very different if you go earlier in the day.

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Food

First, we went to ByChloe for a quick snack because we were feeling a bit peckish and our time slot for the Top of the Rock was not until 8 pm. Afterwards, we decided to go back for more, which just goes to show how much we enjoyed it haha!

We wanted to try a food that was quite popular in America but still small-ish as we were not ready to have dinner yet. For that reason, we ordered a small portion of their Mac n’ Cheese to share and it went down a treat! The pasta had a sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce and it was then topped with shiitake bacon and almond parm cheese. It was creamy and tasted oh-sooo cheesy. The shiitake bacon on top gave it that final perfect crunchiness. Yums! I still need to try to replicate this recipe because it was just scrumptious!

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After being left in awe by the amazing view that the Top of the Rock has over NY, we decided to go back to ByChloe for dinner.

I ordered the Kale Caesar sale with shredded, chopped romaine, shiitake bacon, avocado, almond parm cheese, maple-wheat croutons (SO GOOD!), sunflower seeds and caesar dressing. I usually order any dressings that my food might have on the side but this time I kept all the ingredients in my order so that I could try the true original version. I am glad I did because this was definitely a salad done right! I loved the combination of different textures and it was SO wholesome and packed with flavour!

My boyfriend ordered the BLT sandwich with shiitake bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, chipotle aioli served in a 7-grain toast. He is not a huge fan of plain simple avocado but he totally approved the whole combo. His favourite part was the shiitake bacon, which I agreed that it was just to die for!

 

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Price

I found the food to be not too expensively priced for New York, especially given the great portion sizes. The small Mac n Cheese was $4.95, the Kale Ceasar salad was $11.45 and BLT sandwich was $10.95.

Service

 

The service was very efficient. We placed our orders at the counter, our names were noted down and called when our food was ready.

Good sense of humour and friendliness are the two things I appreciate the most whenever I go out to eat and ByChloe did not disappoint at all when it comes to this. The person who served us was super nice and funny. When I told her my Portuguese name, she looked at me very confused and with no idea on how to either pronounce or write it. My boyfriend jokkingly replied” actually her name is “James”. She laughed and immediately replied “Ok James, you both can sit down and I will call you when your food is ready!”. I really loved how she just played along (and for the record she did shout “James” when our orders were ready). 

All food comes served in recyclable and compostable packaging that is appropriate for take away. I understand that the food is marketed in a way that suits the New York lifestyle and that by using eco-friendly plastic free packaging, ByChloe is already doing better than half of the businesses in town. Nevertheless, I still find that to be a bit wasteful if you are actually eating in like it was our case.

On a more positive note, ByChloe is a restaurant chain that is mindful about the quality of the food used and is committed to use ingredients that are organic, seasonal and locally sourced (whenever possible).

 

Whilst ByChloe isn’t necessary in the business of peddling “ultra-healthy” industry (and it does not have to be), you can certainly still opt for options that are more on the whole foods side. If you are in the mood for something sweet, ByChloe also got you covered with their cupcakes, cookies or even their banana bread. All in all, there’s a wide variety of food options to appeal to everyone’s taste! If I ever have the chance to visit one of their location, I will certainly do so. Whether you are vegan or not, I would totally recommend you to check this place out if you are anywhere near the Rockefeller precinct!

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

SNCKBR, Utrecht (Holland)

Heya x I hope you are all doing great on this fine Wednesday!

I have recently got the chance to go to the largest vegan restaurant in Europe (that just so happened to open in Utrecht) and I would like to share my review with you.

As you can imagine, I got extremely excited with the news that SNCKBR, the largest fully plant-based restaurant in Europe, was going to open in the Dutch city where I live in! As my curiosity spiked as soon as I read these news, I decided to read more into it. So, apparently the workwear of the personnel is fair trade, the restaurant’s interior is completely leatherless, all the ingredients used are sustainable (i.e. biologically grown whenever possible) and all dishes are free from refined sugar and E-numbers. Pretty awesome, right?

As my boyfriend was coming to visit within just a couple of weeks, I decided to wait for him to try this new vegan place in town. After all, great food tastes even better when shared with great people, right? ♥ Even though my boyfriend is a meat eater, when I told him about how cool the whole concept of this restaurant sounded, he said that he was totally in for it (possibly due to seeing my over the top excitement but oh well …haha)!

We went to SNCBR on Saturday for a sort of brunch. As soon as we got in, the first thing that struck my attention was the decor. I am of the opinion that a great interior can do to a cafe or restaurant as much as great food/drinks can. Despite its quite discrete exterior, the interior is well-designed and the seating is super lush! I loved the trendy vibe created by the decor neon lighting. I must also add that you would never say that the restaurant is so big that it has actually space for 110 people just from looking from outside. What a hidden gem!

Food

First of all, I found the menu to be quite creative and unique, offering a diverse selection of plant-based starters, mains, sides and desserts. Contrary to what the restaurant’s name may suggest, this is definitely not a typical snackbar. The menu offers some healthy comfort food options, such as steamed bar buns filled with eggplant, zucchini and other vegetables or cauliflower/pumpkin and sage pizzas! It took us quite some time to choose what to order because there were several dishes that we were eager to try! After careful consideration and much thought, we finally made up our minds and ordered our food.

Here it is:

imageImage-2.png-6Image.png-5The way the food was presented ,clean, appetising and just beautiful, left mesmerised.

 

My boyfriend ordered a no-chicken wrap, which consisted of a tortilla filled with crunchy vegan soya-based “chicken”, guacamole, tomato, iceberg lettuce leaves and tomato salsa & a side of fries with truffle mayonnaise. He said that his wrap was average at best. It was good but not incredibly good if you know what I mean. He was especially disappointed with the tomato salsa, which was not very rich or spicy as it should. However, he really loved the crispy (not soggy) fries with the truffle mayo.

I ordered some pecking “luck” (not duck!) pancakes that came with marinated soya chunks, sliced spring onions, cucumber, pretty edible flowers and plum sauce.  The pancakes were perfectly made: thin and not greasy (just how I like them to be). When it comes to the soya protein chunks, I must say that, sadly, I was not that impressed. Even though they had a lot of seasoning, I found them to be quite dry. Despite not being big on sauces, the plum sauce was so good that made it all taste much better. I also ordered some grilled veggies as a side and, contrary to the soya protein chunks, their taste did not fail to fulfil my expectations.

We also shared some yummy gyozas filled with shitake mushrooms, miso seasoned tofu, Chinese cabbage and Vietnamese sauce. They were my favourite! So scrumptious, rich in flavour and, from far, one of the best that I have ever eaten! I love gyozas sooo much that I could seriously make an entire meal out of them! #sorrynotsorry

It is also worth mentioning that, for those of you who are allergic, intolerant or simply avoid gluten, eating here would not be a problem at all since the menu has various options free from it. One great convenience regarding the menu is that it not only indicates the dishes containing gluten, but it also clearly points out which dishes contain nuts, peanuts and soja.

Service/Staff

The overall service provided by the staff could have been better to be honest. It was rather slow (even though they were not that busy). This is something I normally don’t mind much because it may be just a sign that the chef is putting all his love, care and attention in the dishes he/she is cooking. However, when we realised that the waitress forgot to bring the fries that we ordered and pointed it out, she was not even apologetic… Of course that the sort of negligent service we experienced might have just been an exceptional case, rather than the norm.

Location

The restaurant location is absolutely great! It is right in the city centre, super close to the Utrecht Central Station.

Price

Even though our portions’ size were reasonably good, I found the overall prices to be a little bit over the top. Just to give you an idea, the price of the wrap was 12,95€, which I find quite pricey given what it is.

 

That being said, I don’t want my mixed opinions on the food and service to be deceiving or put you off. I think that it is great to have a fully-plant based restaurant in town; particularly one offering a good variety of healthy (and ok less healthier) food options that are also original and different than the “typical” vegan dishes you would normally expect to find at a vegan restaurant/cafe (e.g avocado/hummus toasts, curries or buddha bowls). I am definitely going to go back to SNCBR so I can try other dishes! 🙂 I feel like only then will I be able to fully make my mind about this restaurant.  have recently changed their thing worth mentioning is the fact that they change the menu regularly. Hence I am sure that I will be extremely eager and excited to try a new bunch of dishes when I next go there!

Just to wrap it up, I think that due to being opened for just a few months, SNCKBR has still some untapped potential, which, in my opinion, is bound to change as time goes by. Thus, if you happen to be around, whether you are vegan or not, do go to this restaurant and try some of their food. I doubt you will regret it. Plus, I am all for supporting any projects and businesses with true soul behind and that strive to make real positive impact on the community.

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*Two things worth noting:

  • This restaurant has also two other branches in Holland. One is located in Amsterdam and the other one in Eindhoven. However, the one in Utrecht is the only one that is 100% vegan.
  • The kitchen closes at 9pm

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful