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Oct 22, 2006 12:16 AM

Serious Carnivore AND Strict Vegetarian

We will be in New York for a few days in December and would appreciate advice on eating there. My DH is a serious carnivore while I am a strict vegetarian (lacto-ovo-vegetarian to be exact). I do not eat meat, fish, chicken or cheese (and am not keen on meat substitute eg tofu) but will eat mostly any cuisine. My DH is not too keen on pasta but in the right mood is quite keen on a good pizza.
We are staying at the Sofitelat 44 West 44th street so we are looking for recommendations of places relatively nearby for breakfast. For dinner / lunch we don't mind travelling a bit for nice food. We will be going to see The Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre on our last night so recommendations somewhere not too far away would be good.

Thanks in advance for any help

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  1. I'm a bit confused here because I thought lacto-ovo-vegetarians *do* eat cheese, i.e, "lacto" = milk and cheese is made from milk, as well as other milk products (like butter) and eggs. In any event....

    Amy's Bread, on 9th Av., near 46th St., has much more than just fabulous bread, including a small breakfast menu. There are a couple of tables at the rear of the shop. To see the menu on the website, click first on "Menu" and then on "Pastries."

    For a more traditional breakfast with a wide range of options, a good spot is Chez Laurence, on the corner of Madison & 38th St.

    For your pre-theater dinner, Uncle Nick's, on 9th Av., b/t 50th & 51st Sts., is a Greek restaurant with very good food. Lots of vegetarian-friendly mezzes and an excellent main course vegetable kebob. Efficient service and a pleasant taverna-style setting.

    Another possibility is Marseille, a very attractive brasserie, on the corner of 9th Av. & 44th St. The French/Mediterranean cuisine is excellent, and the menu does have some options for a vegetarian, including salads and a vegetarian couscous.

    Both these places would also be good choices for lunch.

    As for restaurants in other neighborhoods...

    I highly recommend Cafe Boulud, on 76th St., b/t 5th & Madison Avs. While it may be 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's second tier restaurant, the cuisine is first rate! And a major plus for you is that, while your DH can satisfy his carnivore cravings, one of the four menus they offer is entirely devoted to vegetarian dishes. You can get an idea of the offerings by looking at their website; however, bear in mind that because the cuisine is seasonal, what you see there now will most probably change quite a bit by the time you come here is December. (Note: There is always a 5th menu of daily specials that never appears on the website.) Service at Cafe Boulud is cordial and polished, and the small room has attractively stylish contemporary decor.

    Devi, on 18th St., b/t B'way & 5th Av., has some of the most superb Indian cuisine in the city. There are plenty of vegetarian options on the a la carte menu, and if your DH loves lamb, the tandoori grilled lamb chops are sensational! Also, there are two tasting menus, one of which is vegetarian. So, if you wanted to do the tasting menu, he can have the regular while you have the vegetarian. At lunch, they serve a 3-course prix-fixe for $24.07, and the menu includes vegetarian dishes, as well as that lamb. The large space on two levels has unusual, elegant decor.

    Hope you have a wonderful visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGR

      I think some vegetarians shun cheese even though they eat other milk products because of the use of animal-based rennet. There are good veggie alternatives to animal-based rennet. I'd suggest a kosher milchig resto as an option, but the OP has probably quashed all desire for cheese anyway.

    2. A meatless and cheeseless pizza? What serious carnivore would go for that?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gary Soup

        There are some good ones in Otto's repertoire, and since the pizzas are pretty much individual size, the carnivore could go for the lardo.

      2. RGR thank you so much for all those recommendations. We would be especially interested in Devi - we are big fans of indian food and Lamb is actually DH's favourite (along with steaks in America - aparently steak at home "isn't a patch" on American!). Uncle Nicks also looks like it would be nice for a change - we don't have any Greek restaurants here at home. Cafe Boulud might just be the perfect place for our 'splurge' meal and I especially like the fact that they have a separate vegetarian menu, however, .... I can't seem to find it (vegetarian menu) on their website - anyone know where I might find it just to see what kind of dishes there are?

        Gary Soup, You are right and wrong with your comments on my lacto-ovo'ism - you are correct in saying that I don't eat cheese because of the rennet but I'm afraid I still LOVE cheese! BUT this isn't a problem here in Ireland as it's possible to get true vegetarian cheeses off the supermarket shelf, however, even here in Ireland most restaurants don't realise that normal cheese isn't truely vegetarian in that it contains animal-rennet so as a rule, I never order anything in a restaurant that contains cheese - safer that way!

        One more question - what is kosher milchig resto - hope that's not a very stupid question but kosher food isn't very common in the West of Ireland :)

        Thanks again for all your help, it's greatly appreciated!

        1 Reply
        1. re: OnlyMe

          Kosher dairy (milchig) restaurants would meet your dietary needs, they are ovo-lacto-vegetarian (plus fish which is easily avoided. They have no meat and no rennet in their cheeses. However, there wouldn't be much for your husband.

          Kosher meat restaurants are not in the least suitable for vegetarians, as they avoid milk and eggs and since chicken fat is frequently used in place of butter (although vegetable oil can be used as well).

        2. One last question (for now at least!), I tried to book Cafe Boulud using OpenTable but it's telling me thqat it's too soon to book - how far in advance can I book and should I book once it's possible to do so (ie is it very difficult to get reservations?)

          Thanks again

          1 Reply
          1. re: OnlyMe

            OnlyMe, I'm surprised you're having trouble finding Cafe Boulud's vegetarian menu. Here's the link to the dinner menu page (Note: It's in pdf.):


            The vegetarian menu is called "Le Potage" and is the 2nd menu from the right.

            I always call CB directly for reservations, but I guess you aren't about to do that from Ireland! OpenTable accepts reservations about a month out, and that should be plenty of time for you to get a table as long as you are flexibe about day and time. Saturday prime time is most difficult; mid-week and early are easiest. We've even called the same day during the week and gotten a table at 5:45 p.m., which is when they open. We like to do that when we go to an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is a few blocks away.

            As for your "kosher milchig" question, the laws of "kashruth" require that those who keep kosher not mix dairy and meat at the same meal. Plus, in preparing the food, there must be totally separate cooking equipment and serving utensils for each. Therefore, if a restaurant is serving kosher meals, they can serve only dairy ("milchig") or meat ("fleishig"). There is also a category called "pareve," which is a food that is considered neither dairy nor meat, so can be served in either restaurant. Fish falls into that category; however, there are restrictions there as well, i.e., only fish with scales can be used. Ergo, no shrimp, lobster, etc. Also, only kosher cuts of meats can be served and, for the most part, they're not the best. So, if your husband wants to sample a great NY steak, a kosher restaurant is definitely *not* the place to do it. The best place on Chowhound to get info on kosher restaurants in NYC is on the kosher board.

            If you have other questions or need any further suggestions, don't hesitate to ask.

          2. Davy& RGR, Thanks so much for explaining kosher to me and now I know that it's probably not the best option for us.

            RGR, sorry, I had seen the Le Potage section but thought that there was a completely separate vegetarian menu with more choices (ie with a similar number of vegetarian choices to that of the 'normal' Dinner Menu). I'm a bit dissapointed that 'that's it' as there's only one thing on there that I would eat - the rest have cheese and I'm not a fan of chilled soup. BUT, as you said, the menu is seasonal so I'll keep an eye on the website to see if the 'winter' menu is more appealing. As for telephoning to make reservations, if it were something I would really like to do I do not mind calling them - how far in advance do you recommend? One more question - I've just browsed the photos of past dishes - how big / small are the portions? Would you be full after 3-4 courses or not?

            Thanks again

            1 Reply
            1. re: OnlyMe

              OnlyMe, Now that I've looked more carefully at the "Le Potage" menu, it's obvious this is a summer/very early fall menu. So, in December, those cold soups will be replaced by hot ones. I'm sure there will also be different main courses. When it comes to the issue of cheese, of course, in something like the goat cheese risotto, it is a main ingredient; however, sometimes, it may be used just as a garnish or put in at the last minute. For example, during one dinner there, I was hesitant about a certain ingredient in a dish. Our server checked with the kitchen and came back to tell me there would be no problem for it to be eliminated.

              As regards portion size, while they are not huge, they are more than adequate. We always do a starter, main course & dessert. The meal begins with a tiny "amuse"; there are several choices of breads, all wonderful (I have to stop myself from eating too much in order not to ruin my appetite); and at the end of the meal, in lieu of the ubiquitous mignardises, there is a basket of the most seriously delicious madeleines -- worth going there just for those! Since I don't drink wine, my husband does pairings by the glass. Neither of us drinks coffee, but he usually has tea. By the time we leave, we are pleasantly satisfied.

              My recommendation is that you go ahead and make the reservation. If you eventually decide that you are not happy with the vegetarian options, you can cancel -- even as late as the day before -- without penalty. In fact, there is a re-confirmation procedure. I can't remember if they call you or you have to call them, but whichever, it's a way for them to check that you will (or won't) be keeping your reservation.