Some love for True Bistro
I wanted to give a special post to True Bistro for an excellent meal last night, regardless of how you might feel about the vegan business (I am not a member of the club). Everything we tried was just outstanding.
Soup of the day was a red lentil with house-made "sour cream" and Moroccan spices - consistency was a fine puree, warm and warming from the spices, and just about the best bowl of soup I've had in several months. Just perfectly balanced in flavor, texture and temp.
DW had the Mesclun greens salad with green olives, toasted almonds, and lemon-caper vinaigrette. Simple, really fresh and flavorful. I had a few bites before my soup and could easily have chowed down the whole thing.
For dinner, I had the green curry with fried tofu, mizuna & bok choy, maitake mushrooms, black rice cake. The black rice cake was awesome - grains that were firm with just the right amount of chew - perfectly cooked - love the nutty flavor. The curry might be a little salty for some but worked really well with the veggie components. The mushrooms were a standout.
DW had the phyllo purse stuffed with seitan, roasted winter squash, green mole, arugula & pepitas. Did not try, but have had in the past - it was well received and the second half made it for leftovers.
Good drinks too -
Started with a Bermuda Rum Punch - Bermuda Black Rum, Bacardi Gold Rum, Bacardi White Rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine - good and strong!
Also a glass of pinot noir that balanced well with the curry.
Perhaps my positive reaction to the food was somewhat tinged with relief, after having been gifted and now reading "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer, along with the DW talking a pretty good game about going vegetarian.
But I think a lot of vegan cooking tends to suffer from a lack of subtlety and true culinary care. Often, it's just about piling things up on a plate, or in a wrap (i.e., Life Alive, which I like for what it is.) Or crappy chow that gets excused because it's "healthy" or "ethical." But the chow and dining at True Bistro is truly cookery, not just non-meat, non-dairy, starchy assemblage. The chef, Stuart Reiter and sous chef, Giles Siddons (per the website) do not get mentioned with the hot chefs in Boston and I imagine that it might be a bit of snobbery or exclusivity against them for choosing not to use bacon. But the meal I had last night, while not to get too overblown, merits as much of a mention for craftsmanship as "regular" restaurants.
I need to make it back there! It's not very far from where I live, but it's a smidge fancier than I tend to spontaneously go to.
If you haven't been out to Red Lentil in Watertown, do try it -- it's less fancy, tends towards large portions (which can sometimes go hand in hand with bland, but not in this case), and mixed veggie/vegan. Lot of nut-free, lot of gluten-free options too -- all marked on the menu. (The Seitan in Teff Crepe is my favorite there.)
...Nevermind, I see you mentioned Red Lentil above. Well, my description stands. :)
Great report. Thanks for reminding me to try this place. As a vegetarian who's allergic to nuts, I'm reluctant to go to vegan restaurants because most of the dishes have some nutty component. Did you find that to be the case at True Bistro?
Vegetarianism is a snap. There's no harm in giving it a whirl. After a year, I think you'll have little interest in meat, except for a passing craving when walking by a steakhouse. I have to admit; that still smells good to me. But the desire to eat meat then passes completely and the thought of it becomes repugnant.
Almost every time I'm out to dinner, my carnivorous friends wish they'd ordered what I did. And there's no rule that you have to have protein at every meal. Being vegetarian gives you license to starch it up when you're in the mood. Just keep cottage cheese or protein powder for shakes at home to compensate when necessary. Vegetarian is the new blond. We have more fun.
EDIT: Never mind. I just answered my own question. Their website has a nut-free menu. Impressive!
Thanks for the good thoughts, Polly.
I really like veggies, have been a member of a CSA approaching ten years, but not really against meat eating in theory. However, with more and more evidence that mainstream meat providers today are providing stuff that just isn't very clean, if for no other reason, I am thinking veggies are something I can control a bit more and be more comfortable with. (Or as someone aptly put it when I mentioned reading Eating Animals, "bye bye to chicken :(" True dat.)
I am not quite getting to Portlandia levels of inquiry into my food sources - did my bok choy have any friends? - but it's good to know that there are some places out there like True Bistro and Red Lentil that are creating real food.
re: Bob Dobalina
Bok choy is solitary by nature and finds itself endlessly entertaining, so no need for friends.
If you go vegetarian, not vegan, you and Mrs. Dob will have just about every restaurant at your disposal. Say good-bye to Neptune Oyster and Island Creek, but other than that, you're good.