My husband has often joked over the years that the national vegetable of Romania is pork, a fun little quip backed up by his parents, family friends and the spread on the table for any given occasion. There is a maximum of mean–specifically pork–and cheese on the table, plus bread.
What is sadly lacking is vegetables and good vegetables are even harder to find because, who needs flavor when there’s so much in the meant, right?
But it’s made finding places to eat pretty much impossible. So when we visited friends in Bucharest recently, I felt a bit more hopeful since the population is larger and big cities tend to be more ahead of the curve when it comes to making changes for their clientele. Of course we did some research before we made the hour long drive to the city and found Aubergine, a restaurant that was not vegan but did offer a few vegan dishes.
This was as close to a win as we were gonna get and since it was cold and snowy and rainy, I was ready for a damn good meal at Aubergine.
The inside of this place was great, in the historical Old Town part of the city, which meant the layout was super old school with a small first floor bistro area and bar. If you want to see the real dining room, or rooms, then you’ll need to head up a gorgeous winding staircase to take you to the second floor where the walls are decked out in re-purposed doors and serving trays that serve as art. The atmosphere was chill and the waitstaff was nice. And if you’re an English speaking tourist you’ll be happy to find the servers all spoke at least a minimal amount of English and the menus are in Romanian and English.
So far, I was feeling hopeful so I ordered an unfiltered Zaganu and waited for something to take the chill off my bones.
The vegan appetizer platter had eggplant caviar, which my hubs LOVED because he loves eggplant and I do not. The hummus was delicious, flavorful and so buttery soft I moaned as I bit into it The falafel was crisp on the outside and soft and full of flavor inside, which just the right amount of cumin. The mushroom caviar was delicious but I prefer my mushrooms warm. As delicious as the whole appetizer was, the picked veggies at the bottom of the platter were the most memorable. I can’t pinpoint exactly what was in it, but I only left one piece of each for the hubs.
Our friends had a platter of falafel three ways which was pretty good, once you scraped off all the dairy-based creams smothering them.
The dish was vegetarian but I still say our vegan falafel was better!
Did I mention the bread? The delicious turmeric and whole grain bread that were the perfect vessel for the tasty appetizers!
The hubs ordered a mushroom quinoa sote which came out on this beautiful plate. The dish was hearty and satisfying but afterwards he didn’t feel sluggish or heavy. And I have to say that the mushrooms were cooked to perfection and the addition of the sprouts gave it an extra earthy flavor that made the dish memorable.
I ordered the vegan shwarma with a side of couscous. This was a good meal with a base of hummus, fresh greens, several types of mushrooms, onion and bell peppers. Honestly it didn’t need the couscous because it was satisfying on its own, but eating too much is still something I struggle with on occasion and finding a restaurant with actual vegan food and NOT side dishes is one such occasion.
Everyone was too stuffed to enjoy dessert and honestly I’m not a big sweets eater so it was no problem for me. After three coffees (for them) and a shot of Jameson (for me) we were ready to battle a freezing cold Bucharest!