A vegan menu that surprises and delights

Grilled Tofu and Vegetable Skewers at Green Leaf Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant in Framingham.
Grilled Tofu and Vegetable Skewers at Green Leaf Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant in Framingham.Mary MacDonald for THe Boston Globe

IN THE KITCHEN Vegans in the suburbs west of Boston have a refreshed dining spot in Green Leaf Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant. Owner Balaji Shanmugam has a new partner, Jegan Easwaramuthali, and a new location in Framingham, but is continuing his practice of carefully designed meals and twice-yearly changes in the menu. Green Leaf has an extensive menu with offerings for both vegetarians and vegans, although most of its entrees are prepared for vegans. “For 95 percent, it’s vegan and gluten-free. I’m adding new items and vegan dishes for the lunch entrees and the brunch entrees, and the appetizers,” Shanmugam said. “I want to give them more variety and more choices. Not everybody likes everything. My regulars know I’m always changing things.”

THE LOCALE The new location is in the Saxonville village, about 2 miles from its original spot and closer to the residential neighborhoods north of the Massachusetts Turnpike. The move allowed an increase in the dining capacity by one-third, up to 80. The kitchen is now enclosed from the dining area. The interior has the same vibrant green wall color with cheerful photographs of fruits and vegetables. Built as a Friendly’s, the new location has dedicated off-street parking. Despite the additional seating, I noticed the dining room filled quickly when I visited for a Saturday dinner. My service was very good, and the food came out of the kitchen quickly.


ON THE MENU There is plenty here for diners to consider. If the party has a non-vegan, it’s a case of experimentation. The salad options have been increased. Several include goat or feta cheeses, for the vegetarians. The appetizers are plentiful. All of the soups are vegan and gluten-free, including the Sea-Vegetable Soup ($5.25 per cup), which uses the edible seaweeds dulse, kelp, wakame, and kombu, along with a variety of flavoring vegetables and ginger. For my visit, I chose an appetizer that has since dropped off the dinner menu, a vegan Grilled Tofu ($9), which was encrusted in a rich mixture of nuts and seeds that provided enough crunch to offset the softness of the tofu. It was quite mild, almost too mild, for my taste despite the dipping sauce of a basil-based mayo. The vegan Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas ($18) were deliciously spicy, cleverly enveloped in a thin layer of zucchini. They had enough heft to fill this hungry non-vegan. The most popular appetizer from the founding of the restaurant in 2014 is the Gobi Manchurian ($11), Shanmugam said. It is a creation of cauliflower fried in a chickpea batter, then tossed in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with grilled peppers, onions, and cilantro. The most popular entree, he said, is the Quinoa and Vegetable Teriyaki Bowl ($18), which has onion, pepper, broccoli, and zucchini combined in a homemade teriyaki sauce.

Green Leaf Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant, 62 Water St., Framingham; 508-309-3009; www.greenleafveg.com.


Mary MacDonald can be reached at maryfmacdonald3@gmail.com.