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Oct 26, 2007 08:31 PM

4 Stars AND Vegetarian - possible?

I'm heading with my boyfriend from Sanf Fran to the Big Apple next month (7-12) and would like at least one great, blow-out meal while there. One catch is that I prefer to eat no flesh or industrially raised foods of any kind. Exceptions for responsible, humane, local, etc. are doable as I want to support providers who are growing foods 'off the grid' as Michael Pollen put it. So, that said, is there any hope of us having an 'event' kind of night out?
Per se is pretty well solid so I'm discounting it as an option ;) Thanks!

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  1. it may not be 4-stars or a blowout, but you should try Hangawi, a korean vegetarian restaurant which offers (besides a la carte dining) a set meal of beautifully prepared vegetable courses. very interesting, and very different, and, a very calming experience as well.

    1. Daniel does a vegetarian tasting and I think Jean George may too if you ask. Aquavit does a vegetarian tasting also. Aquavit may be very interesting for you since it's fine dining with a touch of scandinavian cuisine (none in SF). If your boyfriend isn't a vegetarian, make sure he indulges in the foie gras ganache (look the other way). Although he may be required to order the vegetarian tasting with you.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Porthos

        From our experiences with tasting menus, when a restaurant offers a vegetarian tasting in addition to the regular tasting, the menus usually have the same number of courses, and each person at the table can choose the one he or she prefers.

        Re: Daniel. The vegetarian menu is not a tasting menu. It's a 3-course prix-fixe @ $98. We were just there recently, and the only tastng menu that was offered was the regular one -- 6 courses for $165. Perhaps, as you say, a vegetarian tasting can be requested.

        1. re: RGR

          I've had the 6 course vegetarian tasting at Daniel a couple of years back (prices have gone up). The 6-course tasting for $165 is also listed under the vegetarian menu which I would assume to mean a 6 course vegetarian tasting for $165. Since there are 3 options each under appetizers and entrees, you will probably get scaled down versions of the ones listed with maybe 1 or 2 off menu substitutions. In either case, I would confirm when you make your reservations.

          Each restaurant has their own policy regarding tasting menus. I've done seasonal vs chef's menu or traditional vs seafood tasting at other restaurants but that's not always allowed. For example, at Babbo, you can't get a pasta tasting and a traditional tasting separately. I think you can mix and match tastings at Daniel, but I don't recall for Aquavit since I also got the vegetarian tasting.

          1. re: RGR

            Was just at Daniel and my girlfriend had the vegetarian tasting menu. Six course, same price as my tasting menu (the carnivore variety).

        2. Blue Hill raises much of the meat it serves.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lucia

            Blue Hill at Stone Barns might be worth the trip, if you are able to get there early enough to take a tour of the grounds.

          2. thanks for the ideas folks! i'll definitely look into blue hill which sounds like the right spirit. daniel and acquavit (like the overbooked perse) are coming up in all the posts concerning a memorable night out, so that might just be the ticket.

            7 Replies
            1. re: digthevine

              At Aquavit one person can get the vegetarian tasting menu and the other can get a regular one if that is an issue. For an amazing nice meal but not your blow out meal, check out Gobo. I'm not a vegetarian, let alone a vegan but it's one of my favorite restaurants. You'll like it.

              1. re: BW212

                OK, I'll expose my inexperience here, but what's the diff between a tasting menu and a standard one? I'm a vegetarian too. I guess I don't get to places fancy enough for a "tasting" menu.

                BTW, I like Hangawi too, but haven't been to the other places mentioned.

                1. re: comestible


                  Usually found in restaurants, a tasting menu offers small portions of several dishes as a single meal. Some restaurants and chefs specialize in tasting menus, while in other cases, it is a special or a menu option. Tasting menus may be offered to provide a sample of a type of cuisine, or house specialties, or to take advantage of fresh seasonal ingredients.

                  For example, the Modern's Dining Room does a "Chef's Tasting" and a "Seasonal Tasting." Right now Tailor is doing a "Cocoa-based" tasting. I believe Gramercy Tavern does a Chef's Tasting Menu as well as a Vegetable Tasting Menu.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    agree with everything said thus far. just wanted to point out that "vegetable tasting menu" and "vegetarian tasting menu" are *not* necessarily the same thing. if someone is a strict vegetarian, it's best to ask the restaurant when making a reservation if the tasting menu is vegetarian (as opposed to "vegetable").

                  2. re: comestible

                    To add to what Kathryn shared...

                    Tasting menus are usually found in more expensive restaurants. Instead of an a la carte menu, or a three course prix fix menu, it would be multiple courses - 5, 6,9...(Aquavit used to do something called "the bite menu" which I think had 14 courses). The courses are smaller than normal size and it's a chance to sample things the chef is proud of.

                    They tend to be fun because it's a chance to try out lots of great dishes.

                    Per Se, which everyone talks about on here, only has tasting menus.

                    1. re: BW212

                      They also often come with multiple amuses, appetizers, a palate cleanser, multiple desserts, petit fours, an optional cheese plate, and other flourishes (like a breakfast pastry), so even a 9 course tasting menu can end up being a dozen items.