Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seva - Detroit, MI

Seva Restaurant - opened in Ann Arbor in 1973 - is one of the few exclusively vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Southeast Michigan.  They have a full menu of soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, desserts, and Sunday brunch.  In the restaurant is a full bar plus a juice bar with wheat grass shots.

I've actually only eaten there a couple of times because, to be quite honest, I wasn't all that impressed with the menu.  It includes a lot a veggie versions of classics like nachos, mac and cheese/vegan mac, reubens, enchiladas, quesadillas, and various burgers.  There is a lot of Daiya involved, some Tofurky, and too much deep fried goodness for my taste.  And despite what the website says, we did NOT have great service.

The main entrance was a little tricky to find.  Enter through the courtyard off Forest Avenue, not through the alley behind Church's Chicken.
When I found out that Seva was opening a second location in Detroit, I was beyond overjoyed.  I probably jumped for joy and did a little Jeff Tweedy running-man dance.  Maybe I even threw in a little Liz Lemon for good measure.  A vegetarian restaurant in Detroit?  Wahoo!

Then I found out some not so good news.  The Detroit menu was going to be the same as the Ann Arbor menu.  Exactly the same.  Here they are, creating a hip new space for the restaurant, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to also create a hip new menu with fresh innovative dishes.  I guess they didn't think so.  

Seva had its grand opening in January.  Some friends of mine went for dinner and came back with a rather negative review ("bland" and "I could make this at home").  One had the butternut squash enchiladas and she liked those a lot so it wasn't all bad.  I also read a less-than-stellar review in the Metro Times.  It was basically what I said above about Daiya and Tofurky.  Needless to say, I was not exactly jumping at the chance to go.

Two weeks ago, Jaime invited Brian and me to eat there before seeing Otto Vector perform at the Motown Winter Blast.  She's been wanting to try Seva Detroit and wasn't going to let one or two bad reviews get her down.  Plus her friend Dan works there and she'd been telling him for weeks that she was going to stop in and see him.  So off we went on an unusually cold and snowy February night in Michigan.  (When just days before I'd gone for a run in shorts and a tee shirt.)  She even called ahead to make sure we sat at one of Dan's tables.  Good thing because we got his last one!

Based on my experiences at Seva Ann Arbor, I think it's safe to say that Dan is probably the best Seva server out there.  He was super attentive yet laid-back.  He was extremely knowledgeable about the menu but honest if there was something he hadn't tried.  He also gave recommendations for how he liked to order things to change it up a bit.  And he was happy to have his picture taken with us.  Bonus!

I was pleasantly surprised with the Seva Detroit menu.  It isn't, in fact, a carbon copy of the Ann Arbor menu.  Dan said that it started out that way but several special items were so popular that they made it onto the regular menu.  That gives me hope.  Way to go Seva Detroit!

To start, we ordered one of the specials - dolmas with baba ganoush.  It came with toasted pita wedges and grapes.  I'm a big fan of grape leaves and these did not disappoint.  Although I've had hummus countless times, I think this was my first experience with baba ganoush.  Hard to believe, I know.  I really liked it but have no basis of comparison.  Brian and Jaime liked it, too.  The pita wedges were toasted and I would have preferred them to be soft but I suppose that's neither here nor there.

Dolmas with baba ganoush and pita wedges - $8

Brian and Jaime each ordered sandwiches - Brian the Bahn Mi and Jaime the Seva Club.  The Bahn Mi has hoisin-glaze seitan, pickled jalapeno, mung sprouts, carrots, and vegan aioli on a French baguette.  The Seva Club has Tofurky, smoked coconut, avocado, lettuce, and vegan aioli.  They each enjoyed them immensely.  I tried a bite of Brian's Bahn Mi and it was pretty good, though probably a bit too intense for my taste.  Jaime said she would definitely order hers again.  Both of them came with yam fries, which - FYI - do need to be specifically ordered vegan.

Bahn Mi - $11
Seva Club - $11
Close-up of the famous yam fries

I chose an entree that is new to the menu, one of those that Dan said was a popular special item and was held over.  It was the Banana Curry, which is tofu, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, onions, and black rice.  The banana is in the sauce.  It was pretty good, though a little dry and not as banana-y as I had expected.  In fact, I couldn't taste the banana at all.  It was still good, though.  It had a very healthy feel to it, which I liked.  I just could have done with a tad more sauciness.  

Banana Curry - $13

We were too full for dessert.  Maybe next time.  I'd like to go back and try the Seva Club, the tempeh and portabella burgers, and see what specials they have.  I really hope they continue to expand on their menu with more vegetable and grains as opposed to relying too much on Daiya and meat alternatives.  I love what they've done with the space and hope a lot of people stop in to dine there.  If you haven't stopped in to eat at Seva Detroit, make sure you visit soon.  And when you do, ask for Dan!

Jaime and me with Dan

Seva is located at 66 E. Forest in Detroit
Open Sunday - Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.


  1. I yam looking forward to trying it out!

  2. We are thinking of going there tonight. I know I've said it before, but I LOVE that you blog about the fact that restaurants can offer something other than fake meat and Daiya!

    1. Did you end up going? If so, what did you order?

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