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Vegetarians in Paradise

 Vegetarian Restaurant Review


Tony's Darts Away Restaurant R: The two-martini lunch, once a vital and ultra-sophisticated business and social convention, has faded without a replacement. That is, until now. The two-martini counterpart of today just might become the cool two-beer lunch at Tony's Darts Away in Burbank. For many years this spot was a dark and dingy neighborhood bar selling Bud for $3 a bottle. Unofficially opened as Tony's in April 2010, the grand opening is planned for May 10.

Z: With a grand vision toward leaving a lighter footprint on the earth and introducing vegan comfort food alongside non-vegan offerings, owner Tony Yanow gave the bar a much-needed facelift. The result is a cool transformation into a bar and restaurant that attracts the young, hip sophisticated customer who appreciates the allure of hand-crafted beer and homemade vegan eats.

R: On a Saturday afternoon about a week and a half before their official grand opening, we wandered in to slake our thirst and sample some tasty food. The place was jumping with more than 20 customers enjoying lively music and an amazing array of California brews. Dave Watrous, the beer sommelier, greeted us with a zesty smile and suggested we place our orders at the bar. The menus scattered on the tables and on the bar are handmade, recycled wood clipboards holding several pages of beer and food listings. The bottom of the page proudly announces "100% Post Consumer Waste."

Tony's Darts Away Restaurant Z: The menu is uncomplicated and perfectly conceived to pair with the 33 to 38 varieties of draft beers. Tempting were several choices of vegan and non-vegan sausages with a variety of toppings, chili in vegan and non-vegan versions, three appealing salad offerings, home-fried potato chips, fried onions, and sweet potato fries.

R: We decided on a Smoked Apple Sage Sausage, vegan, of course, and chose the Sweet-Vegan Aoli and Dijon Mustard for the Small Toppings. Dave suggested the Sweet Onion Jam paired with Cheddar for the Big Toppings. Among the other unique topping choices were Roasted Gilroy Garlic Paste, Creole Mustard, Sauerkraut, Slow-griddled peppers, and Mango-Melon-Mint Salsa. If we had chosen to forego the bun, we could have asked to have the sausage on a bed of greens.

Z: The Chili sin Carne was a must with onions and vegan cheddar along with the Farm Salad for a really hearty lunch. Consulting with Dave, a genuine beer sommelier certified by Cicerone, we were able to choose the ideal beers for our tastes. Reuben chose the Hanger 24 Porter while I liked the sound of Old Number 38 Irish Dry Stout. Both turned out to be rich choices with deep and potent flavor one usually finds only in imported beer.

Tony's Darts Away Restaurant R: Tony's focus on an eco-conscious business model led him to choose only California hand-crafted beers that would travel no more than 200 miles to their destination. All the beers are vegan with the exception of one that contains gelatin. With all the beer on draft and served in glasses, there are no bottles to recycle--only glasses to wash.

Z: While the basic design of the bar remains the same as the original, the changes came mainly in tearing up the flooring and having it ground and reformulated to recycle the old material. The old paneling was replaced with an attractive, bleached knotty pine recycled wood, while other upgrades involved replacing the bar top and outfitting the restaurant with comfortable padded vinyl barstools with backs.

R: Even the wall opposite the bar has a clean look with vinyl padded banquettes and comfortable tables and padded chairs. The shelf that runs across the entire wall, slightly above eye level, features a host of beer and brewing books standing upright to display their titles. Unique are two bookshelves filled with Tony's collection of books on beer and brewing techniques available to check out at no cost--just your name and the honor system.

Tony's Darts Away Restaurant
Z: The brews arrived first--mine in an 8-ounce glass and Reuben's in a shapely 10-ounce tulip glass, the perfect sizes for us, though we certainly could have chosen to indulge in a more sumptuous way. Each glass had a perfect head. The beers were heavenly at first sip and remained indulgent right down to the last slurp. Occasionally, we traded glasses to compare the taste and aromas and discover new favorites.

R: Our Farm Salad was served in a plastic, faux wood bowl and was endowed with freshness and innovative touches. On the bed of baby greens were chunks of Anjou pears, tomato wedges, sliced cucumbers, caramelized onions, and toasted seasoned almonds. We especially liked the House Vinaigrette zapped with a hint of Dijon. Especially welcome were real forks, knives, and spoons. No frustration wrestling to spear salad greens with plastic forks. The food is also locally sourced and travels no more than 200 miles from farm to consumer.

Z: The heaping Chili sin Carne comes in a compostable Ecotainer and was topped with the finely shredded Daiya cheddar. Thick, richly flavored, and amply endowed with beans, the tomato-based chili offered a delightful, lightly spiced kick and went down easy along with a few sips of our dark brew.

R: The Smoked Apple Sage Sausage was served in a plump bun baked close by at the San Marco Bakery in Burbank. Tony is a locavore to the max! Next time we'll douse the sausage with the tasty chili, making it a hot and juicy combo! Tony's Darts Away Restaurant

Z: We didn't have the opportunity to meet Tony, but Andy Lynch, who considers himself the resident adult, was the go-to guy for answering questions, serving the brew, adjusting the air conditioning, taking orders, and everything in-between. This is one scene where the customer is king and where each one's personal tastes are nurtured with a brew consultation resulting in a beer to please.

R: The pool table at the rear of the restaurant seemed a little lonely at the time we were there, but it certainly looked inviting and sported an old-fashioned rectangular Tiffany lamp embedded with the name Blatz, a once popular beer company. Apparently, some people in the neighborhood remember the bar being here since the 60s, but it's official license was dated 1978. Today it's a totally cool place to enjoy an evening out sipping eco friendly beers, tasty food, and meeting others who dig the scene, too. The menu will soon be growing and a wine list is in the making. Even the two doggie beds and bike rack in front of the restaurant expressed an inviting and welcome feeling.

Tony's Darts Away
1710 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91506
Phone: 818-253-1710
Hours: Monday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Website: http://www.tonysburbank.com

Reviewed May 2010

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