The Lightning Strike
Restaurant Review: Sublime stays true to its nameThursday, March 05, 2009 By LAURA HERRERA
Over four years ago, I went vegan and excluded meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products from my life. To put it simply, I don’t consume anything that comes from animals. It became complicated to eat out, but I quickly learned tricks to ordering a vegan meal: 1. Be on the look out for health food restaurants, not necessarily vegan ones. 2. At "American" style, restaurants use side dishes to create your own meal. 3. Tell the waiter you are allergic to dairy products. He’ll pay attention to your requests of a side of corn, a side of vegetables without sprinkled cheese and a salad without dressing if it could affect your short-term health. However, my tricks and complicated orders weren’t necessary at Sublime, an all-vegan restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale. I identified Sublime as a place for fine dining just from the outside. The drive-through arch and large radiating sign visible from US-1 separated Sublime from other shady restaurants around Sunrise Boulevard. The inside is even more astounding with wall-mounted fountains and ceiling-high potted plants. However, despite the high-class look, the customers ranged from suit-and-tie formal to football T-shirt and Mohawk casual. The atmosphere was buzzing with conversation and the joy of dining with company. Seated near a corner, the lighting was dim but created a romantic mood for all the couples around me. As I sat, the waiter was already waiting to take our drink order. When asked for cranberry juice he offered three different types, but upon arrival, the organic cranberry juice was disappointing. The acidity made me cringe. It took a large amount of water to get it to a bearable consistency and was not worth ordering with the $6 tag attached to it. However, by pure coincidence, the waiter came back with a portion of Basil Polenta "compliments of the chef." It might be hard to believe, but the waiter actually walked to our table and handed us free, and delicious, food without us even mentioning the juice. The hearty, patty-like concoction was a good omen of the food to come. My companions and I ordered Sublime sushi rolls, a vegetable platter customized with grilled tofu, asparagus and broccoli, and an order of spinach and eggplant ravioli. Choosing an entree was no easy task among diverse world foods ranging from Tuscan Quiche to enchiladas. Within 15 minutes the food was on our table. The presentation looked like a meal from a magazine advertisement and the taste was beyond that. For the record, the first piece of ravioli I’ve had in four years was truly sublime, pun intended. The large slices of cooked tomato mixed in with the pasta added flavor to the dish, and I ate the ravioli slowly in order to savor the taste. The sushi and vegetables that followed were simple yet just as appetizing. Usually, for a vegan, the first course is the last course; however, when our waiter appeared with a desert menu, I could not resist. My companions and I ordered one slice of key lime pie and another of chocolate "Nirvana." The table was laid out again as the deserts arrived. Even the orchid flower that garnished my pie was of an edible variety, and yes, I did eat it. Both slices added about $20 to our tab but were well worth it. Dinner was over, but the experience only got better. Nanci Alexander, Sublime’s owner and the founder of Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), hopped from table to table, speaking to all the patrons and eventually made her way to mine. Casually dressed and with a friendly smile, Alexander spoke as if with friends and not customers. She explained the origins of ARFF and how 100 percent of Sublime’s profits go to ARFF’s animal welfare education. I came and left in high spirits. Sublime is more than a restaurant; Sublime is an experience. From the setting to the food, everything is amazing. The tab isn’t student-friendly, but Sublime is perfect for anniversaries and special occasions, especially if it involves sharing a slice of "Nirvana" with a significant other.