For the second year in a row, the Pennsyltucky Veggie 2012- Best Portobello award goes to Luna 2 Woodgrill in State College.
This year, Luna 2 beat out 6 other top contending restaurants for this award. As the “go-to” veggie for many ominvorous restaurants, some form of a portobello mushroom is a ready meat-like substitute. Many places marinate the large cap and serve it up burger style as a sandwich, others have fancied it up with a stuffing of bread crumbs and other veggies while only the best can be enjoyed sliced and on top of a salad.Stellar vegan choices this year include a few mushrooms that have been well styled. State College’s Otto’s Pub and Brewey offers a portobello cap as a substitution for any of their 1/4 lb. burgers but it was a recent special that had some perfectly sliced and served with a Miso Jus where Chef Pete really shined. Also in State College aarvark kafé‘s Chef Brandon has a Teriyaki Basil Mushroom that sits well on the thick style of pocket bread they serve. Also noteworthy is the Greek-style marinade used by JP Edwards in Lewistown. Emma’s Food for Life in Selinsgrove has a nicely grilled portobella with no seasoning but some olives and artichoke hearts balance out with the sweetness of the roll.
Top of the heap would be the three-way tie for second place between The Green Room in Carlisle, Olde New York in State College and Lambs Creek Food & Spirits in Mansfield. Each are marinated and served on soft rolls. The Green Room Bistro and Juice Bar generously allows for the addition of the vegan Daiya Cheese while Olde New York and Lambs Creek smother theirs in a mix of contrasting green and red veggies that make the sandwiches beautiful and toothsome.The things that sets Luna 2‘s portobello apart is that it is marinated and woodgrilled; the 2 flavors combined are unbeatable. As for the sandwich, vegans shouldn’t hesitate to ask for no cheese and the pesto aioli is on the side. Also on the side are the abundant veggie toppings of roasted red peppers, red onion, crisp romaine lettuce and large slices of tomato. The roll, although no longer made in house, is perfect. It is soft and firm enough that you can eat your sandwich as it was intended, with your hands and not so large and crusty that you have to dislocate your jaw to take a bite. I am not considering the accompanying sides in the judging of the many portobellos, they are too various for it to be fair. What makes Luna 2’s Woodgrilled Portobello sandwich the winner is it’s overall flavor, freshness of ingredients, presentation and value for portion.
Luna 2 partner/Chef Jeremy takes his portobellos seriously, likening them to steak for vegetarians. It’s his marinade and woodgrilled flavor that has this sandwich beating out all other mushroom caps in central PA.
Congrats Luna 2 Woodgrill (restaurant review in full here) for hanging on to your title and winning the award for Pennsyltucky Veggie 2012 Best Portobello.
Do know of a Pennsyltucky restaurant’s Portobello that you think can beat this one in 2012? If it’s in central PA (see map here) and is a regular vegetarian menu item, let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment!