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Spring 2005 - Act•ionLine

by Lee Hall | Spring 2005

Philadelphia’s Sunwishes: A Bright Tea House Warms the City

We regret to inform our readers that the excellent Sunwishes has closed. If we hear of a re-opening, we’ll update this page. Meanwhile, please remember the importance of supporting your local vegan restaurant. In Philadelphia, we especially recommend SuTao Café (in Malvern 20 miles west of the city; casual; reasonably priced buffet and complete Chinese-style vegan menu) and Horizons (downtown; reservations required; has a bar and excellent desserts).

This airy yet intimate spot opened just over a year ago, reversing the usual trend: Rather than compromising to attract a broader customer base, Sunwishes actually became a vegan restaurant.

The aroma is warm garlic, the atmosphere jaunty and garden-like. The two floors of tables accommodate groups of two to three; yet the upper loft would easily hold a group of up to 20, and can be reserved in advance for parties of eight or more. Nostalgically tucked into a traditional apartment building in the city’s shopping district, Sunwishes is the ideal spot for dining with out-of-town guests of all ages; there is no alcohol on the menu. And imagine a vegan’s delight to find that even the cucumber and aloe hand soap is vegan and not animal-tested.

Pamela cheerily explained everything, but the explanation was wonderfully simple: It’s vegan. No honey, no dairy cream — just pure vegetarian food and drink, served with a generous spirit.

A starter plate such as the Ethiopian Lentil Wrap ($5.00) makes an ample lunch. This is a hearty purée made of spicy lentils and sweet potato, and served burrito-style. I sampled a variation on this theme, the Lentil Wrap II ($5.50), made from red lentils seasoned with curry and garlic, and wrapped with sautéed chard. Its delicious sourdough injera had been baked slightly to hold a firm shape — a creative and practical touch.

The Caramelized Pear Salad ($6.00) was the perfect complement to this dish, and would surely go well with anything on the menu. It’s an abundance of fresh baby spinach, topped with warm, caramelized pears, shredded butternut squash, cucumbers, red onions, and spiced pumpkin seeds, with a vanilla caramel vinaigrette served on the side.

Sandwiches include an Indian Spice Seitan with Almond Sauce ($10.00); the Tropical Grilled Tempeh topped with fresh avocado and mango mayonnaise and served on an onion focaccia roll ($10.00); and, for the mushroom lover, a Wild Mushroom Steak Sandwich, served with spinach, caramelized onions, and an Alfredo sauce over a baguette ($9.50).

A selection of pure juices (not made on site) are available, and the herbal teas are served in loose bags with large cups and saucers. The desserts — fresh cheesecakes and layer cakes — are extremely popular with regular visitors. After sampling a slice of mocha cheesecake, I knew why.

Sunwishes

2027 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215.255.8408

Nearest SEPTA train stop:
Suburban Station

Hours:
Monday — Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Visit date for this review:
December 2004

Lee Hall

Act•ionLine Spring 2005

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