A Raw Review
Since adopting the Hallelujah Diet in 1996, eating out came to a sudden
halt, the reason being that restaurants did not serve food that we could
eat. Thus, whenever we traveled, we took our food with us. It has thus
been our custom all these years to rise in the early hours, descend to the
kitchen, and make meals for the day's travel: raw soups, salads,
entrees, smoothies all packed in coolers and knap-sacks so that we
can go away for a day or two 'the Hallelujah Way.' Is it a lot of work? In
some respects, yes it is. In other respects, it's a labor of love. Most of all,
it is an expression of food security. In case you haven't noticed, there is
little to no organic, raw, prepared, ready-to-eat food on the market or in
restaurants. Call us fanatics, if you like, but frankly speaking, we prefer
not to be stranded out in the 'real world' with nothing to eat! Are we
dedicated to eating healthy? Yes, we are. Are we committed to eating
raw? Yes, we are. If the truth be known, we are raw, LIVING crusaders in
this decidedly dead-food world. Look around you and all you see is
dead food, dressed up and down, any way you like it, and for any price.
Suffice to say, when it comes to satisfying our tastebuds and preserving
our optimum health, dead food does not cut it. It is not even tempting. If
anything, it is revolting. Often I am personally affronted by food that is
passed off as healthy when it is not!
In light of our stand as crusaders for the cause of wellness and our long
track-record for eschewing restaurants, we were happily surprised
recently to learn that a RAW restaurant had come to town. As you might
guess, we were all ears, eyes, and mouths when we heard this good
news. Allowing for our many years of restaurant abstinence, we were
excited to think that there was hope for ones like we who favored real
food over fake food. Thus we looked forward to treating ourselves to a
much-welcomed reprieve from the kitchen. After fifteen years of living
our own style of 'meals on wheels', we decided to take the plunge by
So it was that we set out to Portland a couple weeks ago to investigate
the big city and treat, yes TREAT, us veteran Hallelujah Diet devotees
to a dinner at GRO's!
Finding this little raw oasis that is tucked between the cityscape was not
difficult, especially if one has a nose for raw. In the early evening
darkness, the bright, glowing interior of GRO's was a welcomed sight.
When we caught a glimpse of the trays of wheatgrass growing in the
window, we knew we had arrived! This placed look like HOME! We
parked and headed on in to GRO's with great joy and expectancy in our
hearts: we were finally going to enjoy 'dining out.'
For the sake of description, GRO's is a small but comfortable space.
The atmosphere is warm and friendly with decorative, hand-painted
table tops, original abstract paintings on the walls, tall antique-style
ceilings, and homey wood flooring. Then, of course, there is the FOOD.
Behind the counter raw food is in the making. Chef Neil, a young raw-er
who is fresh from a year-long stint with Hippocrates Health Institute,
sports his culinary skills with various raw expressions that are
enumerated on the overhead menu. Choosing from a list of edible
goodies now becomes a challenge. Where do we begin our 'first raw
dinner out' experience?
For openers, we ordered a fresh carrot juice to split. We didn't want to
drink a large glass, since it would prolong eating dinner. So, we
sat and sipped (through a straw) a delicious, raw, fresh carrot juice and
smiled at each other all the while with genuine approval. What a treat! As
we sat, relishing our juice, we made our dinner decisions. Choosing an
appetizer and entree from GRO's short but varied menu was not easy. It
all sounded good, and, glancing behind the counter, it all looked good,
too. Nevertheless, we narrowed the field to accommodate our respective
tastebuds, placed our order, and then sat back as dedicated GRO-ers
created our evening meal. We knew that our eagerly-anticipated dinner
would taste great.
In a short though seemingly long time, our raw eats arrived! For
appetizers: Nori Triangles- a creamy herb blend of cashew, pine nuts,
garlic and seasoning folded into a nori triangle pouch served on a bed
of spinach). For entrees, Lily had a Terra Burger- a GRO favorite, our
deliciouse homemade nut and mushroom veggie burger made with a
hint of smoked paprika served with tomato, lettuce, onion, avocado
and sprouts with out delicious living ketchup. Served with homemade
sauerkraut, pickles and veggie crackers and I had Raw Zucchini
Pasta & Nut Balls- raw twist on a classic Italian dish. Our fresh
spiraled zucchini noodles with sun dried tomato marinara sauce, nut
and mushroom balls, sprinkled with our homemade a parmesan
"cheeze". Served by a young, mild mannered GRO waiter who bowed
politely as he placed our plates before us, we happily greeted our
dinners, remarking to him and each other how good it looked! The
portions were generous as well as beautiful, veritable visual delights (if
not works of art) for those of us who are live food connoisseurs. Suffice
to say, our respective dinners looked awesome!
Now came the good part. We launched into our Nori Triangles appetizer
with unabashed delight. They were more than delicious. They were
out-of-this-world. The stuffing, the sauce, the seasoning, the taste, the
texture, the presentation were all divine. We savored each mouthful,
complimenting those who made this gourmet appetizer possible.
Next we advanced to indulge in our raw entree. There was no hesitation
on our part as we took up our flatware and engaged in the royal exercise
of eating healthy. Lily's Terra Burger was a stunning, raw take-off of the
ever-popular SAD hamburger plate. Lily had no problem handling her
burger, home-made sauerkraut, chips, and dill pickles. She marched
right through it like a trooper. As for me, my raw take-off of spaghetti and
meatballs was stellar. After I got past the beautiful presentation (cherry
tomato garnishes, home-made raw cheese topping, graces of red
cabbage strewn here and there), I made my way ever-so-slowly into the
mountain of spirool-ied zucchini that was topped with several
good-sized nutmeat balls and smoothered in a rich, scrumptuous
tomato-y sauce. Raw never tasted so good! With each bite, I vocalized
my rave reviews to chef and staff. I was impressed. I mean, I was
impressed. The quality of this food was like none I had ever tasted...
not even my own!
As the evening wore on and our plates became empty, if not squeeky
clean, we were reminded that our first raw meal out was coming to an
end. Enrapted as we were with our dining experience, time had eluded
us and our dinner was now a memory. So it is that all good things do
come to an end. Our last bites were slow and deliberate as we
remarked to each other that we were entirely full. We could not have
eaten another bite. However, we were happily surprised when Igor,
GRO's young marketing manager/owner and entrepreneur offered us a
'chocolate on the house.' We nearly squealed with delight. We had
spotted a splendid assortment of sweets (pies, chocolates, cookies,
etc.) in a display case when we first walked into GRO's. Such delicacies
have heretofore been off limits to us due to issues of time, effort, budget
considerations, and most of all, dietary disciplines (candida, anyone?).
Thus we ended our first raw meal out on a sweet note. A rich, raw,
home-made chocolate bon-bon became the 'icing on the cake', the
grand finale to a meal and evening that will long be remembered as
simply spectacular. Dining out never tasted so good and at such a
It goes without saying, therefore, that GRO's is well worth investigating,
if not experiencing, even if you are not 'raw.' Perhaps a meal at GRO's
will convince you that there is another dimension to eating: a way that
is both tasty and healthy. When all is said and done, we were impressed
with GRO's mission, philosophy, and offerings. They have vision and,
more importantly, a determination and dedication to fulfill that vision.
Help them accomplish that vision of a healthier, happier,organic world
by supporting their efforts. Treat yourself to dining as it should be in
Maine- RAW. Eat at GRO's!