As the count down to the holiday season begins, I find myself craving vegetables more and more. I think my body knows it needs greens, like part of some sort of pre-holiday-season detox before the impending sugar high of December. It is certainly not impossible to find vegetarian, organic or vegan food while dining out in Europe, but after travelling with a vegetarian, not to mention my own preference toward a low-meat regime, I will say this: certain countries and cities do it better than others. Two restaurants that I think should receive attention for their cool vegetarian/vegan concepts that should expand their brand and concept around the continent are: Juicebar from Milan and Mangolds from Graz.
Originating from two countries that tend to be more meat and carb heavy than vegetable focused in its cuisine, both Juicebar and Mangolds offer veggie-craving customers, fresh, healthy vegetarian and/or vegan options but in two very different ways.
Juicebar is more like a fast food concept and reminds me of a place I used to frequent in Hong Kong (whose name escapes me right now) that was part cafe part fast food, and focused on healthy, vegetarian take away items, and snacks. At Juicebar in Milan, I had a super juice, a salad with tuna and barley and grabbed a pack of dried fruit and nuts for the road.
Mangolds on the other hand is like Ikea, meets Whole Foods, mixed with some great typography and branding in a smaller scale format. I found Mangolds while staying over in Graz because the carpark for Hotel Wiesler was conveniently located across the street from the cafe. Mangolds is a self-serve salad bar with plates and take away containers where food is charged by weight, with a couple of food stations as well as a coffee bar and desserts. It is a full sit down restaurant, with a play area for kids, a mini retail section and changing tables for babies in the men’s and women’s washroom (I know this because my male friend confirmed it for me). The interior is Scandinavian minimalist, with soft lighting, whites and neutrals and light wood.
While travelling, I am perpetually on the hunt for interesting retail and restaurant concepts to blog about. When these concepts happen to be vegetarian or highlight healthy, local, organic or vegetarian food, that is a double bonus for me!