Bad Vegetarian Food in Good Restaurants
The state of vegetarian food today: A tragedy in three acts.
Bad Vegetarian Food
Chefs must hate me, well not me personally, but my eating habits. I’m a vegetarian and for this I’m punished. I mean, how else do you explain the boring, bland, lazy dishes that I am served time and time again?
“Dear Chefs of Ireland, there is more to vegetarian food than risotto and pasta.”
I tweeted the above just last week. Judging by the 49 replies, 125 retweets and 489 likes, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Although, the general consensus is that goat’s cheese and stir fries also need to be banished from veggie menus forever.
Dear Chefs of Ireland, there is more to vegetarian food than pasta and risotto.— Melanie May (@_melaniemay) July 23, 2017
Although I have to say it’s not just chefs in Ireland that don’t know how to cook good food for vegetarians, it’s a disability suffered by many cooks worldwide.
Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.
Here’s the bad vegetarian food that has been served to me in really good restaurants in the last eight months.
See if you can notice a trend.
My first veggie meal was in a 4-star, 19th-century Château in France.
The chef just removed the meat from the plate and left me with nine pumpkin gnocchi. I was starving and went to bed still starving. Vegetarians need just as many calories as meat eaters.
Here’s the vegetarian options at a barbecue in a 4-star Dublin hotel. Again, it’s just ‘minus the meat‘.
A Dublin restaurant served me this dish of fried brown. I’ve clearly suppressed the memory as I can’t remember what it is.
In a 4-star superior design hotel in Berlin, the only vegetarian option was another gnocchi dish with Parmesan cheese on top. Parmigiano Reggiano is not suitable for vegetarians and neither is Grana Padano and Gorgonzola. Stop serving vegetarians non-vegetarian food. The same thing happened in Romania and New York.
Ireland produces some wonderfully creamy and flavourful goat’s cheese
but enough is enough with it being the only starter option on vegetarian menus. Who decided that ALL vegetarians love goat’s cheese? We don’t.
I’ve had goat’s cheese served in a burger bun and called a burger – this is not a burger. I’ve had goat’s cheese served as a panna cotta and I’ve had goat’s cheese served with beetroot, and beetroot and more bloody beetroot.
This chef was determined to get all the clichéd vegetarian options in the one dish. Beetroot risotto topped with goat’s cheese, anyone? Anyone?
Whilst we are on the subject of cheese, if chefs could just stop placing a lump of cheese on a plate and calling it a meal, that would be great, thanks.
Deep frying cheese doesn’t make it any better.
As for pasta being the default vegetarian option, it is so tiring now. I no longer want to feel bloated and sleepy after eating out. If I ever do want to eat pasta again, I’ll go to an Italian restaurant but when I go to any other restaurant I want to see something else on the menu.
Two weeks ago, on an airplane, I had risotto for lunch. A few hours later, in a 5-star hotel in Spain, I had risotto for dinner. The next day, in a café in Spain, risotto appeared on the menu for lunch. I just couldn’t face another bowl. I’d reach my limit of mushroom risotto. I wanted to cry. I felt hard done by as I watched everyone else tuck into plates full of protein, carbs, veg and different textures and flavours.
This has been my eating out diet for the last eight months. Very little variety. Very little colour. Too few vegetables. Too much disappointment. Just because I am a vegetarian doesn’t mean that I don’t like, want or deserve decent food.
I know I am not alone in my frustrations. Dear readers, what vegetarian food are you sick of seeing on menus and what are some of your experiences of bad vegetarian food in good restaurants?
Chefs, are you making creative and well-balanced vegetarian dishes? Then let us know. I’ll add your establishment to a list of great places to eat vegetarian food.
“Thanks for reading”
You might also like my blog post on the simple ways chefs and restaurants can improve vegetarian options.
Have you tried my vegetarian quinoa salad with grilled halloumi recipe?
If you like this post make sure you check out the map of cafes in Ireland that give a reusable cup discount.
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