1 year ago


The Frankfort Station 021617

30 | February 16, 2017 |

30 | February 16, 2017 | The frankfort station Dining Out The Dish Vegan Cafe freed its owner from corporate shackles Lockport spot keeps old favorites, adds to extensive menu Erin Redmond, Assistant Editor Roughly 10 years ago, Marguerite Baltages-Ruminski was staring death in the face. Her corporate job, she told her husband, was going to kill her emotionally, spiritually or physically. She knew she had to get out. So, she traded her cubicle for kitchenware and started her own catering business, Healthy Sins. Fast-forward five years to the night the Homer Glen resident and her husband dropped into the Vegan Cafe, 928 S. State St. in Lockport, for dinner. As she was dining, a light bulb went off in Baltages-Ruminski’s head. She found out the cafe offered classes and decided to take a few as a way to expand her catering business. But when she found out the cafe was volunteer-based, it was game over. “I love to volunteer,” Baltages-Ruminski said. “I started volunteering so much that [then owner] Laurie Sloan approached me and said, ‘Do you want to buy it?’ I looked at her and said, ‘Are you nuts?’ "Next thing I knew, I was signing the [paperwork].” Baltages-Ruminski still had her doubts, though. As she waited for Sloan to arrive the morning on Sept. 1, 2013, she asked her late father, who also owned a restaurant when she was growing up, for a sign she was doing the right thing. And then she heard the train whistle. “It’s 9 o’clock in the morning,” she said, noting her father’s old restaurant was a half-block from the train station. “The train never goes by at 9 o’clock in the morning. It blew its horn, and I went, ‘OK, I got it. I never looked back.” A new era Baltages-Ruminski loved the cafe so much when she bought it that she did not want to change much — but she had to put her spin on it. The artwork on the walls and some of the traditional recipes remain the same, but she has introduced items like the Salisbury “steak” ($17.95; “Our mission is to positively impact a child’s potential in life through play-based education.” Visit us at Vegan Cafe 928 S. State Street in Lockport Hours • 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday • 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday- Saturday • Closed Sunday (available for private parties) For more information ... Web: www. hsvegancafelockport. com Phone: (815) 838-4626 or $13 as a lunch special), which is made from walnuts, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and onions, and topped with a creamy — yet creamless — mushroom gravy. The creamy Alfredo pasta dish ($14.95 for small, $19,95 for large) is hands down Baltages-Ruminski’s favorite, though. The pasta features spiral-cut zucchini noodles, and the sauce is simply cashews, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, herbs and traditional yeast, which gives it the cheesy flavor. As the owner of a vegan restaurant, Baltages-Ruminski said she is often faced with apprehension. Because of that, she tries to have something for everyone. When carnivores stroll through her door and take a seat at the leaf-shaped tables, she recommends the nachos. The taco “meat” is three simple ingredients: almonds, sun-dried tomatoes and Mexican seasoning. It is piled high atop corn chips made in house. Guacamole is made from organic avocados, with a nacho drizzle — made from sunflower seeds and turmeric — that gives a yellow hue. A cashew, lemon juice and olive oil blended sour “cream” sauce ties it all together. The Salisbury “steak” ($17.95) at the Vegan Cafe in Lockport is made from walnuts, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and onions, with a cascading mushroom gravy on top. The lunch special ($13), seen here, also comes with a garden salad and brownie bites. Erin Redmond/22nd Century Media “This is the healthiest you will eat anywhere, any time,” Baltages-Ruminski said. “I tell people to be open-minded and try it. I’ve had people go, ‘I’m afraid,’ and I go, ‘It’s food; there’s nothing to be afraid of.’ It’s not for everybody, and I know that. That’s OK.” And Baltages-Ruminski will not let customers leave with trying dessert. Hearty but healthy, Baltages-Ruminski offers desserts such as brownies, macaroons and the cafe’s signature almond butter pie ($8 per slice), made from almond butter that is ground on site and mixed with bananas and cinnamon, stuffed into a date and pecan crust, and slathered with chocolate ganache. On a mission Baltages-Ruminski’s interest in healthy foods did not happen by accident, and her mission is twofold — get healthier and give back. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly 20 years ago, and when her doctor told her that her numbers were “off the charts,” she knew it was time to make a change. She admits that she is still a “transitioning” vegan. She also has a nut allergy. So, sticking to her new diet can be tricky at times. Her restrictive eating requirements have inspired new dressings — such as the pumpkin seed cheese, made from pumpkin seeds, cilantro, garlic and ginger — so that others like her can enjoy what the restaurant has to offer. “As soon as I decided to go into this wholeheartedly, I feel so much different and so much better,” she said. The Vegan Cafe was a nonprofit when she bought it, and while she tried to uphold its status, Baltages-Ruminski said she’s doing “the next best thing.” All employees went from volunteers to paid employees, but she does not collect a salary. Instead, everything goes back to charities such as MorningStar Mission to help the homeless and animal rescues like TLC Animal Shelter. “Honestly, that’s why I do it,” Baltages-Ruminski said. “I got to a point in my life where I’m like, ‘Let’s have some fun,’ and it is. I love this. ... I wake up in the morning with a purpose.” Dining Out the frankfort station | February 16, 2017 | 31 The Dish Bonefish fashions four-flavor drink in pomegranate and sage martini Bill Jones, Managing Editor When it comes to flavor profiles, drinks usually lean toward sweet, sour, bitter or, on rare occasions, savory. But instead of committing to just one, the latest cocktail at Bonefish Grill in Orland Park tries to capture all four in one blend for something that also plays to the hopefully soon-to-come spring season by being “light and refreshing,” according to managing partner Nicholas Kapellas. The pomegranate and sage martini ($9.10) — unlike some of the restaurant’s seasonal repeats, a completely new offering — combines Reyka smallbatch vodka, fresh sage simple syrup, POM Wonderful 100 percent pomegranate The pomegranate and sage martini ($9.10) at Bonefish Grill in Orland Park features Reyka small-batch vodka, a hint of sage, pure pomegranate juice and lemon juice, finished with a fresh sage leaf. Bill Jones/22nd Century Media juice, Cointreau, freshlysqueezed lemon juice and Angostura bitters, as far as the franchise-wide recipe goes, though Orland Park in particular makes use of Art in the Age’s Sage liqueur. “The pomegranate juice is a hot thing right now, with all of the antioxidants Bonefish Grill 15537 S. LaGrange Road in Orland Park Hours • 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday • 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday • 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday For more information ... Web: www.bonefishgrill. com/locations/il/orland -park Phone: (708) 873-5170 in it,” Kapellas explained. “We try to use the freshest products.” The cocktail also may use the optional addition of pasteurized egg whites, Please see The Dish, 32 Modern Pomegranate Martini Recipe Bonefish Grill shares the secrets to making a martini similar to its recent addition, the pomegranate and sage martini. Ingredients • 1.5 ounces vodka • 1 ounce sage simple syrup • 1 ounce POM Wonderful 100 percent pomegranate juice • .25 ounces Cointreau or similar orange-flavored liqueur • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice • 2 dashes Angostura bitters • .5 ounces pasteurized egg whites (optional) Method • Pack a pint glass or a martini shaker with ice. • Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin and shake until icy cold. • Strain into a frozen martini glass. • Garnish with fresh sage leaf for garnish. Making a fresh sage simple Syrup Bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add 4 cups of sugar in the raw (for richer texture) or superfine sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add 10-15 fresh sage leaves and let boil for two minutes. Turn off heat and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for 24-48 hours. Note: The sage needs time to infuse throughout the simple syrup, so the longer you infuse, the brighter your flavor will be. 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