Saturday, 11 July 2015
It seems quite ironic that people who are the most considerate of animals (and thus don't eat them), are so very often the ones who receive the least consideration themselves when it comes to eating out.
I have been out for dinner 3 times this week, which is very unusual in my life! Unfortunately, while the company has been great each time, the food has been extremely average - despite the fact that the establishments are all generally well regarded. (Smolt, Taroona Hotel & Wrest Point)
So why have I had crap experiences at each? Because I am a vegetarian.
I so loved the food in India. I loved being able to go to any restaurant and order something from a great big list of things I could have chosen. It was so exciting and something I so rarely get to experience at modern australian restaurants at home.
At both the Taroona Hotel and Smolt there was exactly ONE vegetarian main course option. ONE. Corn Fritters and Mushroom Gnochhi respectively. Neither of which appealed at all. While the dislike of mushrooms is my own fault, I am guessing that chefs never consider how they would feel going to a restaurant and finding there's only one dish on the menu! And it's not like being a vegetarian is such a foreign thing - there are heaps of us. Tonnes. Why are restaurants doing such a crappy job of catering for us?
At both Smolt and the Taroona hotel the waitress suggested that they could ask the chef to leave the meat out of any of the carnivorous dishes - which quite frankly didn't appeal at all - let me demonstrate..
Regular Menu Item:
hmm.. sounds like it's missing something… say.. hmmm… let me think… a main ingredient??
hmm.. I like nice pasta and parmesan, but would really prefer it had a sauce of some sort of it.
Last year we went to eat at a very highly rated restaurant in Maclaren Vale, called Serafino. It was Jon's mum's birthday and we had a degustation menu which was lots of small dishes. Only for myself and the other vegetarian diner the dishes were microscopically small as we were basically just served the same as the rest of the party, but without the main component of each course. So we were served about the equivalent of 1 baby spinach leaf and two snow peas (maybe with a fancy schmancy balsamic reduction or something). It was laughable - particularly as I'm sure we were charged exactly the same as the meat eaters.
And for another example of indifferent treatment, I remember going to popular Blackman's Bay restaurant "The Beach" a few years ago and reading flowery paragraphs describing each menu item in minute detail, but everything contained meat. So when I asked about a vegetarian option I was given a grotty piece of paper in a plastic sleeve which simply listed "Risotto" and "Vegetarian Lasagne", with no further information. That kind of summed up their attitude really… Although I must say that I just looked up The Beach's menu on line just then to see if it was the same and I notice it does actually have one vegetarian option - albeit essentially the most un-imaginative and most common option - Vegetarian Lasagne. yawn.
Which brings me to the vegetarian options at big functions (awards dinners and suchlike), and the reason for my rant tonight! I've found that the vegetarian option is almost always risotto or lasagne. 10 years ago it would have been a spinach and ricotta puff pastry thing but risotto seems to the the go-to dish now.
So at tonight's TASICT awards night at Wrest Point Casino I had some expectations of receiving something reasonable, if not very original.
The entree was mushroom risotto for everyone. So that was sad - but there was no choice for anyone on that course I have no cause for complaint, instead I just ate a dinner roll and waited for the main course.. which was…
Yep, at the $110 per person dinner, this was the vegetarian option. So that's a plate of vegetables. No delicious sauce, just the slightly lumpy mash.
And this is what I thought of it: