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Flower All-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet

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Rice pudding (center) is one of the many dishes available in the afternoon vegetarian buffet at Flowers Restaurant.

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Alfonso Delacruz, bartender at Flowers Restaurant, gets the bar ready for service last Thursday.

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Freshman Junbe Kye, a non-vegetarian, enjoys fresh fruits and vegetables regularly at the vegetarian buffet at Flowers Restaurant.

A college student’s diet, although abundant in pizza and teriyaki, doesn’t generally include many vegetables. Luckily this problem can be easily remedied at Flowers Bar & Restaurant, where they offer an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily.

Flowers has been at its location at the corner of Northeast 42nd Street and University Way Northeast or 17 years now ,and the employees have watched Seattle’s vegetarian community expand greatly during this time.

Owner Fadi Hamade estimates that more than half of his customers are vegetarian or vegan; he cited the prevalence of vegetarians in the area as a major benefit to his business.

“It helps tremendously being in Seattle,” Hamade said. “That’s what I love about this place; it’s always in the lead, whether it’s the environment, recycling or being vegetarian.”

Hamade was born in Lebanon and grew up in New York City, where his mother raised him on a vegetarian diet.

“My mom was a vegetarian and the restaurant is greatly inspired by her cooking,” he said.

The Lebanese influence is evident in the food served at Flowers’ lunch buffet, as it features a variety of flavorfully seasoned veggie stews and salads. The smorgasbord of options includes fried cauliflower in house-made tahini sauce, flaky falafel balls, pita bread with hummus, a variety of savory vegetarian soups and chilis and as a delicious yellow curry penne pasta.

Junior psychology major David Fagerholm cited a healthy salad consisting of tofu, garbanzo beans, eggplants and onions as his favorite dish. It was Fagerholm’s first visit to Flowers and he said he would likely return.

“I was looking for something different to try and needed to get more vegetables,” Fagerholm said.

This was a sentiment shared by fellow customer and freshman Junbe Kye, who regularly visits Flowers for the lunch buffet.

“I love the food and with all the vegetables it seems really healthy,” he said.

Although the all-you-can-eat format does not lend itself well to saving room for dessert, Flowers’ buffet does include a creamy rice pudding.

Flowers Bar & Restaurant has recently come under fire after being referenced in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s top 10 list of the most health code violations in Seattle in 2007. Flowers was cited for critical health violations on 14 occasions in the calendar year, something that Hamade said should no longer be a concern for his customers.

“We all have ups and downs, but Flowers is back and kicking,” he said. “The restaurant is scrubbed and cleaned on a daily basis.”

Fagerholm was not aware of Flowers’ previous health inspection problems, but said it did not especially worry him.

“I tend to not be too concerned about the safety of the food,” he said. “In America, in Seattle, I don’t feel like it’s much of a problem.”

If you’re interested in controlling your portions, Flowers also offers a wide selection of sandwiches and salads as an alternative to the buffet. However, priced at only $7.99 and with the enticing aroma of its dishes greeting you as you walk in the door, the buffet is tough to resist.

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