Spring is here! Well… It’s March, and that’s close enough in my books. Flowers won’t be the only thing blooming this month, after taking this date for a drive! With nature’s upcoming promise of fair weather, sunshine and a verdant earth, I decided that an eco-friendly date was in order.

Dancing Dog Eatery & Juicery is a vegan restaurant in Downtown Urbana and features all sorts of soups, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods. I stopped by with my trusty date evaluator, Jon (Tyler is still dating the guy from last month…) for Sunday brunch. I ordered a cup of Vanilla Oolong tea, something novel; I’d never seen Vanilla Oolong before. Their tea selection was very unique and pretty extensive and comes served with its own little pot of hot water ($2.50).

The brunch menu includes several reinvented breakfast classics. Jon went with the DD Burrito ($7) and I ventured to try the Biscuits and Gravy ($10.50). I have to disclose that Jon was a Dancing Dog Doubter. He didn’t think vegan food could come close to standing up to dishes with meat in them, so I really wound up dragging him on this Date Lab. However, this burden became less so when our order arrived. Jon’s burrito was loaded with tofu scramble, black beans, roasted red potatoes and salsa. Jon noted that the tortilla (whole wheat, by the way) complemented the flavors and didn’t rip or crumble. Each component was well seasoned and finished with a perfectly peppery kick.

I’ve never had biscuits and gravy in my life, but for some reason was craving them upon ordering. I wasn’t sure what to expect, except for biscuits. This dish came out with two deliciously crumbly biscuits topped with ‘sausage’ gravy and served with a side of tofu scramble. I loved the textures in this dish and wound up cutting up the biscuits to mix with the gravy and tofu, which I would highly recommend. This dish, though it contained no meat, was incredibly filling and could absolutely stand as a comfort food breakfast dish. The creamy gravy was probably my favorite element, as it was beautifully seasoned and helped bring the other components of the dish together.

We finished brunch with a lavender vanilla cupcake ($4). I felt we couldn’t leave without trying some of their legendary vegan baked goods. The 'buttercream' frosting was incredible — light and just the right amount of sweet! The cupcake, however, seemed to be made with bananas, and this flavor dominated the vanilla and lavender that I was hoping for. Though we did enjoy it, note that the flavors were different than you might expect.

After brunch, Jon and I headed to our local Home Depot in search of plants, as this seemed an appropriate way to welcome spring. We were surprised (I was actually mostly excited) to find a plethora of succulents (so excited in fact, that I scared several other patrons in the surrounding area!). Several of the succulents and pots were on sale. Our total for seven succulents, four pots and a bag of soil was $54. I got a little too excited about the succulents, and I suppose if you wanted to be reasonable, you could buy one pot, one succulent, and soil for around $10 to $15. We returned and spent the afternoon planting, but fair warning: get gloves or something, those spikes are sharp. I gave two of the little pots away to friends and brought the larger pot home with me. As I’ve observed, succulents could be a great metaphor for love or your relationship, because they never die.

Cheers and see you next month on Date Lab!

Dancing Dog Eatery & Juicery is located at 126 W Main Street, Urbana, and is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All photos by Stephanie Svarz.