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Short Order: Portia’s Lasagna

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Short Order: Portia’s LasagnaPhoto by Miriam Bowers Abbott.
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Lasagna is a perennial popular favorite in the entree scene. Meat sauce, cheese, what’s not to love?

With this in mind, Portia’s has been offering a version in which all those lovable items are absent. There’s no dairy, there’s no meat. It’s part of the ideology that governs Portia’s Cafe, a joint with a long dedication to a vegan lifestyle.

More than that, it’s also committed to organic, GMO-free and gluten-free ingredients. Plus, Portia’s Cafe has recently expanded its empire, colonizing the space next door and creating (appropriately enough) Portia’s Next Door.

The new Next Door is a sunny spot. There are breakfast and beverage menus that include items such as an egg (tofu) salad wrap and waffles. There’s also a case that holds cookies, right next to a bigger case that holds a bevy of salads and, more importantly, the lasagna.

One look at the lasagna, that intellectually impossible lasagna, and no other choice would do. In the Next Door setting, the impossible lasagna sits there in the case, just begging for a quick, impulse carry-out acquisition.

So, how does the lasagna work? Honestly, it’s not entirely clear. There are some elements in the mix that are somewhat unfamiliar. One might be some sort of soft, spreadable, nutty faux cheese. Another, perhaps a variant of hummus. Other elements in the layers are more familiar. Baby spinach, sweet potato slices, mushrooms, onions, something noodly — all bound together by a thick, thoroughly traditional tomato sauce. It works. It very much achieves something like lasagna, and it’s quite likable. Likable, even without meat and dairy. That’s an accomplishment.

While the dust is just now settling at Portia’s Next Door, the business isn’t done colonizing. Portia’s is headed to High Street as well, setting up shop in the shell of one-time vegetarian eatery, Whole World Pizza. It will be a home for Portia’s Diner. Guests can expect the same signature ideological commitments that have built the empire’s success. Meanwhile, you can find the goods at 4426-8 Indianola Ave.

For more information, visit portiascafe.com.

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