Lunchtime With Tillie: Red Bamboo

Hey everyone! It’s Van and Tillie, and for our latest culinary adventure, we boldly went where no Van had gone before: vegan/vegetarian restaurant Red Bamboo on Dekalb Avevue. Now, I know my record of past lunch choices (any place with a big, juicy hamburger) might not support this claim, but I promise Red Bamboo had always been on my radar. The bold aromas as I’ve walked by with Tillie on the way to the playgrounds in the area piqued my curiosity: “Man, what’s going on in there?” I’ve often asked myself. “Maybe I’ll give it a shot one day,” I’ve answered, then moved on.

But after getting called out by Tillie’s mom, Tillie’s mom’s mom and just for good measure, my mom, about my recent bacon and cheese run, I figured I need to do something maybe a teensy-bit different the next time out. A suggestion from among the comments in the last LWT made me see that this was my time for the Red Bamboo foray.

We went on another one of those late-sleeping-Tillie days, but I was a little more prepared to stave off starvation. I ate a small plate of some leftovers at the start of her nap, and that held me over. The leftovers had a dual purpose, too: They were kind of a pre-backup plan for Red Bamboo, because I had no idea what I’d be getting into there – you know, what if I just didn’t like it? I had never been to a vegetarian restaurant; this could be tough.

Anyway, when she finally woke up, I was prepared for us to roll out immediately with her lunch packed and some snacks. When we got there, I was hoping to sit outside, but the tables weren’t set up. It was nice out, but it had been raining for the past two-and-a-half days, so that made sense.  I rolled her in, and we had our pick of where to sit, so I chose a nice, plush booth and Tillie got the high-chair treatment.

While I’m looking over the menu, the waitress arrived with a glass of water for both Tillie and me. Tillie didn’t have the using-the-straw-on-her-own thing down yet, but it was good to have backup for us! And about the menu: I looked through the whole thing before going to the lunch section, and I have to say it all looked really appetizing! The lunch menu, which ran from noon to 4, continued that and it took me a while to decide on what I wanted. It’s split into three price sections – $5.95, $6.95 and $7.95 – all of which seemed reasonable to me. And whatever you pick comes with your choice of soup, salad or collard green roll. I decided to go with the soy butterfly chops and collard greens with the calalloo soup.

Also, this go-around, even though I brought along lunch for Tillie, I wanted to order her something off the menu (her very first dish specifically for her!), so I got a side of the sweet corn mashed potatoes.

As we’re waiting for the food, Tillie seemed restless. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have put her in a stroller mere minutes after waking up. Plus the fact that she managed to actually stand up in her high chair despite being buckled down at one point would indicate she wanted to be running around!

After strapping her back her down, my soup arrived. I never had this type of soup before – a spicy broth with spinach, okra and onions. Tillie was reaching for some, but I couldn’t give her any as it was just too hot for her, but it was very nice for me! Her mashed potatoes came out shortly thereafter. I had a bite of them first, and I was like, yum! These will be perfect for her! She had a few bites, but wasn’t devouring them like I thought she would, so I got out her little container of pasta I packed. My main course came out while I was feeding her: the breaded soy pork chops with an apple-raisin sauce on top and side of collard greens with vegetarian ham.


Here it was for me: the moment of truth. The soup and mashed potatoes were just precursors into the vegan world for me, this was the real deal. SOY chops? VEGETARIAN ham? Those things didn’t even sound like something I should be eating! But after the first bite, as with the soup and potatoes, I was hooked. The seasonings were perfect, and please take my word on this: As someone with the deepest of Southern roots by way of Louisiana and Alabama, I like to think I know what good collards taste like. And these were by far the best that I’ve had in the neighborhood, hands down, vegetarian ham and all!

Tillie had a bite of the greens, but she was really interested in the apples and raisins on top of my chops, along with her pasta. Despite wanting to eat all of the food in one sitting, I managed to get out of there with a chop left and a scoop of mashed potatoes. We got the bill, which was $13, and proceeded to pack up.

Now, our bill was in the double digits because of the extra potatoes, but as I mentioned earlier, the price selection they have is great. Our experience there was perfect with excellent service and wonderful food. I learned that I can’t take Tillie from crib to stroller to high chair in one fell swoop. And I also learned that I can thoroughly enjoy a vegan meal. I can’t wait to go back!