Blasphemy and Other Fun Vacation Activities

Are you ready to hear my dirty little secret? I don’t like most vegetarian restaurants.

There. I said it. The cat’s out of the bag. (Though admittedly, the bag was pretty flimsy to start with.)

Case in point: The Ravens Restaurant, at the Stanford Inn in Mendocino. I love everything about the place…except the food.*

My partner and just enjoyed a long—and painfully overdue—weekend at the Stanford. It’s a gorgeous lodge. Nice rooms with wood burning fireplaces, beautifully kept grounds and friendly people. They’re responsible innkeepers who respect the planet, compost their waste, and recycle everything. Plus, they’re animal lovers, just like me, so you can bring your dog along for an extra thirty-five bucks. (We did. She loved it.) So in keeping with the “kindness to all living creatures” thing, they have a vegetarian and vegan restaurant called The Ravens. And frankly, I’m just not that into it.

I know, I know! I’m waiting for a lightening bolt to strike me dead in my tracks as I write this, but I’ve got to tell it like it is. People are cutting the place way too much slack because it’s vegetarian. And I don’t want to play that way. If I’m going to rag on the mainstream restaurant world for not doing right by vegetarians, I can’t let veggie joints off the hook just because their politics agree with my own.

The food was flat, y’all. The red bell pepper coulis on my Lasagna Fresca was bitter to the point of distracting. My partner had the Tamales, which came with a big side of rice, and amounted to a giant pile of flavorless carbs.

And here’s the other thing. The menu was freakin’ all over the place. No focus, no vision, just a lack of meat as the unifying principle. Sadly, I found this to be true at a lot of vegetarian restaurants. Now don’t get me wrong—I love it when I get to order freely off a menu. It’s a nice change of pace. But tighten it up, people! Show me a point of view. It shouldn’t be “Good, for vegetarian food.” It should be “Good food, period.”

So go stay at the Stanford. It’s a wonderful, relaxing, beautiful place. Just beware that their restaurant gets an A for politics and a C for execution.

*The scones are good in the morning, though. I’ll give them that.

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2 Comments

Filed under Exclusively Veg, Mid-range Meals, Reviews

2 responses to “Blasphemy and Other Fun Vacation Activities

  1. Anne

    Completely agree about the menu range. My omnivore husband had some sort of sandwich wrap, which I thought was an odd choice for his dinner, but, to your point, also an odd choice to have on the menu at all, what with the white tablecloths and all. Also, it was completely bland. I don’t remember what I had, but I do remember that it was spiced nearly to inedibility. I’m not a wimp on the chili, but this was heavyhanded to the point of drowning out anything else. So, bland on the one hand, and too-hot-to-handle on the other.

    I did think the room was nice, and seem to remember some good choices on their wine list.

  2. rsn

    Ooh, sorry to hear that you didn’t have a great experience. We went up to Mendocino in April, and while we didn’t stay at the Stanford Inn (maybe because I went to Cal and couldn’t get past the name 🙂 ), we had a friday night dinner as well as sunday brunch at the ravens, and we really enjoyed both meals. The menu at the website was pretty different from what we actually saw there… We had a spinach souffle appetizer, which was fantastic, and the entrees we got were an enchilada entree and I think the grilled portobella flatbread which is on the website menu. We loved the fresh vibrant taste of the vegetables that were used, and really enjoyed both the dinner and the brunch. Maybe I’m predisposed to liking vegetarian restaurants because I love being able to sit down and peruse the entire menu, but we really enjoyed the Ravens restaurant. I’ve also been happy at the veggie restaurants closer to home (both in the city and on the peninsula), but that might just be me :).

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