Tag Archives: vegetarian

Oleana

Hello, loyal friends. Just a quick missive today, to let you know I’m alive. I write from the snowy banks of the Charles River, where it is MOTHER FUCKING FREEZING. I think I forgot what real cold feels like. Thanks, Boston. Consider me schooled.

Anyhoo, I had a lovely solo dinner at the bar of a place a friend of mine recommended: Oleana. And let me tell you, it’s embarrassing when a town like Boston can whoop the pants off a town like San Francisco in the “friendly to vegetarians” department. Oleana is a rare gem—a restaurant that offers equality for meaties and veggies alike. I had choices, people. Good ones.

I started with a Swiss Chard and Eggplant Bisque, with Tomato Jam and Cheese and Pesto Panini. The bisque was ever-so-creamy without being too heavy, and pleasantly complex. The tomato jam gave it a hint of brightness, like some postcard from summer in a bowl full of winter goodness. The panini wasn’t as crunchy as I might have liked, but the flavors were great, and it dunked in the bisque like Paul Pierce over Tim Duncan. (Couldn’t resist a little Celtics love, since I’m in Bean Town and all.)

Next up, I tried their Ricotta and Bread Dumplings with Red Wine, Porcini and Black Kale. My waiter—who was admittedly the bartender—described the dish like gnocci, but that was a bit of a misnomer. The dumplings lacked that beautiful gummy resistance I was expecting from his description. Still, on this 25 degree night, the Kale and Wine were stewed to produce a flavor you rarely get in vegetarian cooking. A sort of hearty-savory-nom-nom that’s the hallmark of meatier dishes. I, for one, was stoked to eat it.

That’s it for tonight. My blogging muscles are out of shape. Gotta get myself on the keyboard treadmill, one page at a time.

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Filed under Mid-range Meals, Reviews

Mission Beach Café

This one’s gonna be a toughie, friends.

I want to rave about Mission Beach Café. I really do. For starters, I had a fantastic evening there. (But I suspect that had to do with the company.) And I have to give them huge props for offering a vegetarian entrée that wasn’t risotto. But.

But.

My friend ordered the Watermelon and Cherry Tomato Salad with Basil, Feta, and Sherry Vinaigrette. I ordered Heirloom Tomato Salad with English Cucumbers, Goat Cheese and Mustard Croutons. Sounds like two very different salads, right? Well, not so much. When they arrived, they looked exactly the same. I’m talking Mary Kate and Ashley here, in the Full House days, when they played the same freakin’ baby. The plating was identical, down to the croutons and the cheese crumbles. That seemed weird to me. I mean, they were offering two dishes that would inevitably be served together at some point during the evening. Why plate them up like twins? Literally, we wondered if they’d messed up the order and served us the same thing. And for both of them, the flavor was meh. Not bad, just meh.

Now for the entrée. Again—and I can’t stress this enough—mad points for trying. Like, I’d eat one hundred somewhat failed attempts at something interesting for every risotto in this town. They served up Wild Mushroom Corn Crepes with Spinach, Ricotta, Pine Nuts and Brown Butter. Rather inexplicably topped with a big heap of salad. Was it decent? Totally. Was it worth eating again? Mmmm, probably not.

Oh, man, I feel guilty now. All I do is bitch, bitch, bitch about the lack of interesting vegetarian options. Then when I get one, I’m not satisfied. But people—that’s how you know I care. That’s how know you can trust me. If you ask me, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” I’m going to tell you. That way, on the days when you look really hot, you won’t think I’m buttering you up. Deal?

One final note. We opted for the Coconut Cream Raspberry Pie. It was Coconut Cream Pie with a few raspberries poked on top. I dunno. Kinda felt like a cop out.

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Ubuntu rocks me. Again.

Did you ever meet someone who’s absolutely beautiful in every way? I mean, gorgeous to look at, kind-hearted, thoughtful, the whole package?

That’s Ubuntu. If I didn’t love the place so much, I’d have to hate it, because it’s just too perfect. It makes other restaurants look bad.

Okay, maybe I hyperbolize. But Christ, the place is good. Check out my original review for more gushing praise.

This Sunday’s lunch started with Leaves and Things, a perfectly composed salad of greens, flowers, herbs and roots. Then, Radishes with Chevre and Nori, with a mustard and banyuls vinaigrette and black sea salt. (Banyuls is a dessert wine. News to me.) Chevre and Nori together—what a revelation. And the black sea salt? Holy Mary, mother of God. It made the radishes sing in six-part harmony.

The Cucumbers with Miso “Bagna Cauda” was another stand out in an entirely outstanding meal. Let me lay down the players on the plate: Crispy fingerlings, ficoide glaciale (which is a succulent), shaved parmesan and olive caramel. Insane. INSANE. The ficoide glaciale shimmered as if it were frozen, and tasted like citrus surprise. The fingerlings added a warm, grounded goodness, and the olive caramel…well, the olive took the whole dish up to eleven.

The Cauliflower in a Cast Iron Pot. Comfort in a cup.

The Anson Mills Farros with Young Carrots. Vibration on a plate.

The Raspberry Sorbet Float with rose geranium soda, watermelon ice and lychee tapioca. Refreshment in a glass.

And the Mini Carrot Cupcakes with spiced frosting and tiny (tiny!) candied carrots. Bite-sized heaven.

I could go on and on, but that might keep you from clicking over to Open Table and making a reservation of your own. Go. Now. If you’re a vegetarian, you owe it to yourself. If you’re not a vegetarian, you’ll never think of vegetarian food in the same way again.

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Filed under Exclusively Veg, Mid-range Meals, Reviews

Boulette’s Larder

A few months ago, I had a wonderful lunch at Boulette’s Larder in the Ferry Building. At the time, there were no vegetarian options on the menu, and I had to ask the server if the chef could make something up for me. Luckily, they were happy to oblige, and I was treated to a gorgeous lunch of impeccably seasoned veggies, perfectly executed.

These days, they’re making me even happier. A Vegetarian Farmer’s Market Lunch now sits on the menu, out, loud and proud. (Fists in the air, y’all.)

Today’s selection: Full Belly Farm Roasted Eggplant, Riverdog Farm Cherry Tomato Medley, Blue Heron Farm Pardon Peppers and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Dirty Girl Farm Haricot Vert, plus Yogurt with fresh Tumeric and a fat stack of Papadum.

Let me lay it down for you. These folks are vegetable masters. The Haricot Vert were cooked on the money, all thin and snappy like a Mission hipster in skinny jeans. The eggplant melted in my mouth. And the Roasted Pardon Peppers gave the whole dish a zippy kick in the pants.

I’m thrilled that they decided to put the option on the menu. Even my omnivorous lunch-mates were jealous when they saw the bounty in my basket. (Wow, that’s sounds…uh, really naughty.) So get thee to Boulette’s Larder and place your order for the Farmer’s Market Lunch. Let’s reward them for their awesomeness.

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Well, hello there.

It’s been tough times here at A Few Reservations international headquarters. Maybe the curse of Kristin has come to pass. Or maybe I picked up an enchanted Tiki in Hawaii and it’s starting to haunt me, Brady Bunch style. In short, life has unraveled. And blogging has fallen by the wayside.

Luckily, I had dinner Saturday night with a few fantastic friends, including the lovely and talented Michael Procopio, author of Food for the Thoughtless, and contributor to Bay Area Bites and the SF Examiner. His guilt trip worked wonders: Here I am typing.

The thing is, I can’t really blame my lack of blogging entirely on my current mental state. It’s also due, in large part, to the fact that I keep being disappointed by my culinary forays. And frankly, I’m tired of bitching about it.

Exhibit A: A recent meal at Coco 500. Now, Coco is a go-to restaurant for me. An easy recommendation for just about any occasion, and a sure-fire crowd pleaser when I’m taking folks out on the town. Last time I was there, I asked if the chef could pull together a vegetarian entrée plate for me. I wasn’t disappointed. So, this time around, I asked for the same thing. Guess what they sent out?

Yeah. Risotto.

Of all the gorgeous vegetables they could have used. All the lovely sides they have to offer. Fuck me. Risotto wasn’t even on the menu that night. Did they have a pot waiting in the wings, marked “For Emergency Vegetarian Use Only”? Sure, the risotto tasted great. But really, that’s not the point.

The aforementioned dinner with my boys at RNM was less disappointing. No vegetarian entrees on the menu, of course. But at least the collection of sides they brought out was truly well seasoned. Some asparagus, some spinach, some farro, and a downright tasty mushroom gnocci. (I know: Gnocci and farro on the same plate? Look, I’m trying to be charitable here.)

This is what I don’t get. Why is it a crime to put something vegetarian on the menu? If the chef is willing to make an offering upon request, then why not commit and put it on the page? It sure would make me feel a whole lot better. You know, like they actually valued me as a customer instead of treating me as a special needs case. It’s not 1957, and we don’t live in Nebraska. No one is going to label your restaurant a hippie joint if you dare to offer an entrée sans carnage.

I’m getting tired of beating that drum, you know? Has anyone out there had a fantastic vegetarian main plate lately? And if so, where? Tell me. Please. I promise to try it and scribe a happy, glowing review. Maybe it’ll even pull me out of my funk. Write and let me know. You can consider it a public service.

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Filed under Mid-range Meals, Rants, Reviews

Yet another fabulous meal at Canteen

I don’t want to sound like a broken record by heaping even more praise on Chef Dennis Leary, but damn, that man (and his assistant Luis Contreras), can cook.

We ate at Canteen last night because we wanted a sure thing. The meal HAD to be good, and there HAD to be a decent entrée for me to enjoy. I wasn’t in the mood for exploration or disappointment. And Canteen delivered. Even from a menu with just four entrée options, they always include a vegetarian dish, prepared with the same delicate consideration as their meat dishes.

Thanks, Canteen. You made my night.

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