Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Time for a rant

Usually I try to stay positive, since vegetarianism is a joyful part of my life. But once in a while I go on a tear about the way things ought to be.

This started yesterday, when a friend asked about a new "fine-dining" restaurant that had been described to her as vegetarian-friendly. I've not been to this particular restaurant, because its menu offers scant indication of veg-friendliness. Of 14 entrees, only one is the least bit vegetarian.

And that one entree - once stripped of all its many fine-dining adjectives – is manicotti. Thanks, but I think I'll head to my local Italian restaurant, where I can get manicotti if I want that. Or if not, I can choose from a dozen other vegetarian-friendly dishes ... vegetarian lasagna, pasta al pesto, pasta with broccoli and garlic, calzones, strombolis, raviolis, and so on.

This seems to be a common pattern among "fine-dining" restaurants in this area. They may make a curt nod to the vegetarians, but it's often merely a variation on the same thing you can get elsewhere. Often your down-to-earth, homey restaurants have more to offer the vegetarians.

But that got me thinking about what I would love to see at a fine dining restaurant. Here are the top three:

Number one: More choices for vegetarians – including vegan options - might as well dream big! Nothing makes me feel so warm and fuzzy as having a hard time deciding what to have.

Number Two: Clear indications on the menu of what is vegetarian. Nothing makes me less warm-and-fuzzy than to see a delicious-sounding risotto only to learn upon iquiry that it is made with chicken stock and oh, yes, there’s a bit of sausage in it too. Labeling vegetarian and vegan items on the menu has so many advantages - it shows that the kitchen understands and cares about the meaning of "vegetarian"; and it eliminates much of the uncomfortable quiz-the-waiter portion of the evening, enabling everyone to better enjoy the dining experience.

No. three: Menu flexibility – perhaps offer the option of combining (those clearly labeled vegetarian) side items into a meal. Sort of like getting a vegetable plate at a meat-n-three, only fancier.

Readers, do you know any "fine" restaurants in the area that are especially veggie friendly? Or are there other items that would be on your fine-dining wish list?

1 Comments:

At 10/23/2007 3:27 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

I expect fine-dining restaurants to be creative when they offer a vegetarian dish. They're usually creative with the meat dishes -- interesting sauces, side items or presentations, for instance -- so why should the vegetarian entree be boring or an afterthought?

When I went to the fine-dining restaurant Table in Charlotte a couple of months ago, they had only one vegetarian entree, but it was INTERESTING. It was a crispy potato "bone" -- a full potato baked with a center of mushroom duxelles. Now that was something I couldn't get somewhere else.

 

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