Friday, December 15, 2006

California Fresh Buffet

One of my favorite veggie-friendly restaurants is California Fresh Buffet at 1370 Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem. The restaurant is run by the Center for Purposeful Living, and all of its profits go to charities. About 85 percent of its workers are volunteers. It's open for dinner only Mondays through Saturdays, and for lunch only on Sundays.

But let's talk about the food, which is always excellent and, as the name implies, fresh. I always leave feeling stuffed, but a healthy kind of stuffed -- full, but not weighed down by grease. Their salad bar is, in my opinion, by far the best in town and includes marinated tofu, which workers will stir-fry for you in your preference of a variety of seasonings. The garlic-and-herb seasoning is fabulous!

There are always many vegetarian options, such as soup, black-bean casserole, pizza, pasta, "Sloppy Pauls" (a vegetarian version of Sloppy Joes) and plenty of vegetables. And, of course, there's an array of wonderful desserts.

Each night of the week features a different culinary theme, and one section of their hot bar is devoted to foods with that theme. There are always vegetarian theme entrees. (I'm especially fond of the mushroom-and-spinah torte on Mondays and the Greek spinach pie on Thursdays.) The themes are: Italian (Monday); Caribbean/Cajun (Tuesday); Asian (Wednesday); European (Thursday); Mexican (Friday); Oriental (Saturday). Sunday brunch features breakfast items, such as quiche, sweet-potato pancakes and made-to-order omelets.

Vegan buffet items are marked, as are heart-healthy items -- CFB is a participant in Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center's Heart Center Dining Program. And if you go in on your birthday, you'll get a free meal! (And sung to by the workers -- just a note of warning if that sort of thing embarrasses you.)

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