The more and more I think about obesity and health in America, the more I get angry. Why? Because everyone talks about eating healthy, getting in shape and then opts for a bag of nonsense. I recently took a trip to Whole Foods and learned that there is no high fructose corn syrup in any products inside their store. (High fructose is basically satan.) Grocery stores are starting to take notice, so I think we as a society should do the same. Now I am not saying you can't eat junk one day per week. Fine, have your nonsense on a Saturday night as you watch whatever show on your laptop. (television sets for your baby boomers) But, after that one day, put it away or throw it away.
I can't sit on the sidelines anymore and watch people gorge themselves to death. As someone who has tried to live a healthy life the past 4 years or so, it takes time. It takes a lot of questions, research and a lot of water. I had days where I ate garbage, and I felt like it soon after. But eventually, I began to care about my waistline and health in general. I don't really know why I decided to write this post considering I think of health as an extremely personal matter, but I do care about people. I care about my friends and family who continue to ignore the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. This blog post isn't about being non-vegan, vegan and almost vegan. (I am currently developing an e-Guide on the last label so stay tuned.) This is not about working out or not working out (as I don't work out as much as I should either). It's just about recognizing what you should be eating and drinking more and why you should be doing so.
I don't think I am a mean person and don't want to be looked at as one through this post, but health is becoming more important for me. Why? Because it's the one thing I have complete control over in my life. I can't control people and what they think about me, but I can control what I eat and how I feel. But enough ranting, let's get to three easy things you can do to become better and feel better.
First, throw out every can of soda in your house or drink it and don't buy it for another 3 weeks to see how you feel. (it's legit empty calories) If you are going to keep any alcohol or soda, limit your consumption to once a week to treat yourself after a long week of hearing your boss and co-workers complain about how busy they have been. (as if you aren't) Life's about moderation so go have a glass of white wine or that margarita when you go out to eat. If you are going to drink beer, then once a week is cool. Again, this post is for people who might even care just a little about their health, as I don't think someone who is completely uninterested would read this post. If so, carry on.
Second, up your water intake. Drink a glass when you get up, two when you are at your desk at work until lunch and one at lunch. (I know you are at a desk throughout the day, as most of us are.) That has you at 4 glasses of water already. Now drink a few more glasses and then have some more water at dinner. You're at about 7 or 8 at that point and should be set for the rest of the day. Fruits, vegetables and so many foods have water in them already, and adding that 8 glasses will make you feel refreshed and prevent things like headaches. (those suck)
Lastly, limit or cut out your fried food intake. This one MAY be the hardest because fried food tastes so good. Especially our friends french fries from the potato category. Whether those golden guys are steak, crinkled, curly, cajun or skinny fries, they are delicious. They are everywhere, especially when you go out to eat. (but that doesn't mean you have to eat them) Try to limit those to once every 2 weeks. If you do get fries, opt for sweet potato fries. They are somewhat better for you, albeit still fried, but you can walk out of whatever restaurant with your head held a little higher. If you are at home, try cutting red potatoes with lemon pepper and coat them in extra virgin olive oil. You can even easily pan sear them until browned, and they taste just as good. That said, I hope you have been able to learn something as you sit on your couch and read this and apply it to your own life. Let me know if you plan to finally bake that potato instead of being one.
Cloud Red is located on 4488 Oakland Avenue in the heart of Shorewood. (right outside of Milwaukee for those unfamiliar) Cloud Red's calling card is their wide array of drinks and specials that are available throughout week and more specifically on Mondays and Tuesdays. Margaritas can be bought at discounted prices on Mondays while rails can be purchased throughout the week.
Cloud Red offers up a small rotating seasonal menu that ranges from shrimp tacos to burgers to even their outstanding baba ghanoush. They even offer games to play including bananagrams. (my girlfriend and I enjoy that game, even if she is up 45-1.) The rustic interior even gives off a relaxing vibe that makes you want to curl up with a blanket and one of their pillows on their bench. What they do not offer is simple logistics in regards to ordering food and drinks, service and overall ability to interact with workers.
When you walk into this venue, you have to seat yourself. This is typically fine, as some places operate in this fashion, but when you finally take a seat you have to then get back up and go to the bar area to order food and drinks. No server is there to greet you, and it is all on you to put in your order. (Figuring out what to eat is hard enough.) This would also not be a huge deal if there was a menu on the table, but there isn't. You can find cuisine on a glass and wooden frame near the middle of the restaurant and a drink menu at the bar itself.
I do not know if Cloud Red management is trying to cut costs, but it is a surefire way to piss people off because of the lack of service. While I can be pretty patient when there is a lack of service available, I know some people who get angry--quick. There were also no updates on when our meals would be ready since we had no waitress or waiter. By the time I was ready to pay bill, which has to also be paid up front, I had taken notice of this restaurant's choice to place their employees in the kitchen and at the bar.
I think not having waiters is a major issue considering this group of people serves as almost brand ambassadors and experts for a restaurant, its offerings and constant interaction with patrons. I wonder if Cloud Red will choose to change this structure as it hears more complaints and is in existence longer, but I did not really enjoy having to walk around people to the bar just to pay my bill. Even a small stand or podium with an easy way to pay for food would have been nice. (as my GF noted)
One more thing speaking of service: you might not have any on your phone when you are trying to post your food to Instagram. I asked for the wi-fi password and can give it to you via Instagram if you'd like. I do not know why there was a lack of service in this venue but it was very noticeable both times I visited. (on T-Mobile's network for anyone who has jokes about Boost Mobile or Cricket) While I had some gripes with how this restaurant operated in terms of its logistics, I did enjoy their food for the most part.
Mara and I decided to get sprite and lemonade mixed. (Got Rose last time I went) There are tons of cocktails and other drinks available at decent prices. We also decided to have the tempeh tacos which come with pecans, sunflower seeds, apples, cilantro cream, queso fresco (for cheese lovers) and arugula. These tacos come with chips and salsa for $5. (one dollar off their typical $6 taco but no chips and salsa come with that option) I assume that the chips and salsa, which is made fresh (no it seriously is) is not refillable for each taco that is ordered, as me and Mara got a response that indicated you only get one chips and salsa.
However, now that I think about it, the second bowl of chips and salsa was actually a part of our meals, as we each ordered a taco! As for the tacos themselves, I enjoyed it my second time, but Mara and I both agreed that the nuts were not necessary and made for a unique taco. I thought the nuttiness was not bad but I also do not remember that being in my taco the first time I ate it. (Maybe I was being greedy.) Overall, this taco still gave me a nice portion size that filled me up and left me satisfied. The cilantro crema also takes this taco to a new level so I would highly suggest getting that as part of this taco.
For dessert, I opted to get a chocolate chip cookie that can be shared with someone else. This cookie was slightly underbaked, which IS PERFECT when thinking about how to perfect baked goods. (at least when talking about a cookie) There was a chocolate chip in every bite and led me to wonder did they just slap a hershey's bar in between two cookies. This treat was sweet, my dish extremely savory and hearty to say the least. While my food was pretty above average, the service, or lack thereof, was below average and has me wishing Cloud Red adopts a normal customer service policy or regimen sooner rather than later.
When I first arrived to Vagabond I was pumped! I had heard good things about it, did some research and then ended up there for a company outing. There were a lot of good vibes when I walked through the doors of this spot. The open-air trucks that sat around the restaurant, the ample space for patrons, the open-air feel and patio area during warm weather all contributed to this environment. The retro-like neon signs that were also present and pictures of Michael Jackson and Willie Nelson on restaurant signage also added to this vintage but clean aesthetic of Vagabond. Rainbow colors were plastered throughout seats, walls and everywhere in between, while a sea of blue also was very prevalent through the venue, as blue is a staple of Vagabond's color palette.
Everything I just described about Vagabond was centered around its exterior and interior design. Now, let's get to the part about my food, which was utterly underwhelming. The guacamole and salsa verde we received with the chips (which is not complimentary) did not have much flavor at all. The guacamole dip needed a little more lime, lemon, tomato or something that would give it a little more zest and life! The chips also lacked flavor, needing a dash of salt or something savory. I do not crave salt when I go out to eat, but I still expect some type of seasoning or salt to give food flavor. (that's why I love food) I might eat a mainly plant-based diet, but that does not mean flavors have to disappear. If anything, my ability to taste pungent flavors and taste buds have all drastically improved for the better. My rice and beans also provided me with few feel good endorphins and a lack of seasoning. Maybe this was a one time occurrence, but that one time, a.k.a. this visit, provided me with chips and dips and rice and beans that were simply lackluster.
When I finished devouring my entree, which consisted of a falafel curry taco, a cauliflower buffalo taco and a tempura avocado taco, I was not too impressed either. The cauliflower option came slathered in cholula sauce, something I generally enjoy, but it was way too much for my liking. (to the point where sauce was dripping off of the cauliflower.) I have made cauliflower tacos at home, and I season them and add a little salsa, but do not put hot sauce on them for this very reason of it being too much. Cauliflower tends to soak up whatever is poured onto it when pan seared, making me think that a little less sauce is the best way to go for this option. The falafel curry was not bad, as the curry was fried to a crisp, but the curry could have been a little less intense and in quantity. Again, less is more in this case when you are dealing with items including hot sauce, curry and tacos. However, this option was probably my favorite option out of the three tacos that I ate. (which might not be saying much) Lastly, I decided to try the fried avocado option with rice noodles among other ingredients, and I did not like this at all. The fried taste and texture did not apply to the avocado itself, but more so just the breading. The avocado was not soft enough and had the taste of an avocado that was not ripe enough for me. Next time I will opt for Vagabond's mushroom and black bean options if I do get tacos. (Thanks @milwaukeephoto & @ali_close)
Overall, I loved the scenery inside and outside of Vagabond, the vibes of this spot and will have to try out some of their other plant-based options to see if my opinion changes. However, this place ranked pretty average (at best) for me and left me wanting more, which is never a good sign after leaving a restaurant. One might argue this is not a place to seek plant-based eats, but that should not matter when talking about quality. (it's also 2017 get it together) If I do come back to this restaurant, hopefully it's worth every penny and not on my dime. I walked out of Vagabond disappointed and my head held low, but I will try their other two veggie options and their shrimp option (thanks @paulatews) to give more thoughts. Hopefully it is a much better experience. Peace and grub!