Any suggestions on good restaurants that can respond to a vegetarian request? I often have dinner with a friend in Dallas. We eat Thai and Indian often, but when we treat ourselves to a slightly finer restaurant we inevitably find that there is no vegetarian option on the menu. This is common everywhere and in many cities a simple request is seen as an opportunity to be a little creative by the kitchen. In Dallas, I've found that the best the chef will generally come up with is a plate of vegetable side dishes that are otherwise on the menu. In Chicago, New York and San Francisco this has never been a problem and we have eaten excellent vegetable torts, polentas, risottos and the like as a result. In Houston, We hit about 50/50--Mark's has always whipped up some wonderful things, but the otherwise excellent Cafe Annie has sent out an uninspired couple of roasted vegetables that in no way resembles the other dishes in the care of preparation. In Dallas, however, we have yet to find a place that really does anything more than put together a couple of sides on a plate and call it a meal. Any suggestions?
Stephan Pyles assembles a wonderful vegetarian entree from all the interesting sides on the rest of the menu. Yes, they are sides, but they are items like rellenos stuffed with goat cheese. It is not sautéed vegetables arranged in a circle on a plate, as I was served once at Suze. The waiter was pleased to describe the options and accommodated my request for a particular item. I am not sure a vegan would be as pleased, but for an ovo-lacto veg, it was a delicious treat.
Maybe Lola, Iris, York Street or Local for upscale and for midscale try BreadWinners. Basically any smaller chef driven establishment. You may even want to call ahead. Possibly Tramontana. Havent heard much about it lately. Anyone been?
York Street is actually the place that inspired the initial post in this chain. The sides were very good, but in the end it was just a platter of sides. Not really an entree with the same level of culinary integrity as the steak and white beans that my friend was eating on the other side of the table. We actually did call ahead and were told that they could put something together, which led me to think that more was coming down the way than a plate of side dishes. (These were not really the tapa-type side dishes that Jaimie mentioned from Stephan Pyles. These were more sauteed vegetables and various salads.) Perhaps next time I'll try negotiating the meal a little bit more.
I've not tried Lola or Iris, but the websites of each look wonderful. I'll call ahead and give them a try.
I enjoyed Lola and Local very much. I have particularly fond memories of Local, as we not only had good food but were treated so considerately. York Street was a disappointment to me, as well. There was only one really delicious item on the plate of vegetable sides.
I know this is chainy, but I have a veggie friend who always asks if we can go to Houston's. She likes their daily veggie dish.