Veggie restaurant food: a rant

I’ve been a veggie for 25 years. In that time I’ve seen vegetarian food go from lentils 12 ways, to shelf after shelf of veggie food in the supermarket. These are good times indeed for vegetarians. Back in the day asparagus came in tins and squash was something bright orange in a bottle that rotted your teeth. As far as we’ve come, I do wish restaurants would catch up.

I eat out at a variety of different restaurants and cafes, from really posh places (this is very rare) to high street chains and independents. A good 90% of the time I look at the menu and realise that the veggie option is more often than not a lazy afterthought.

This week I had a Christmas meal at a reasonably swish local restaurant. My meal was a starter of beetroot and goats cheese tart (the tart was just a circle of burnt pastry) and a spinach and feta filo pie which was almost inedible, the pastry was thick and burnt. I left it. I don’t really like pastry, let alone burnt pastry, two courses of burnt pastry.

A few weeks ago I had a veggie “burger” in a trendy burger place, it was a slab of halloumi. I like halloumi, I love halloumi, but just a slab of it in a burger bun is a disappointing cheese sandwich I could’ve made at home. The chips were nice though.

Every menu seems to have the same selection of veggie options –
Veggie burger
Pasta with tomato sauce
Risotto, usually mushroom
Something containing blue cheese
Something containing mushrooms

Is there a chefs’ law which states “thou shalt offer vegetarians blue cheese and mushroom options only”, I really hope not, I can’t stand blue cheese and I can’t eat mushrooms because they make me ill. Seriously, why so big on blue cheese? There are approximately 8 squillion different kinds of cheese out there, there’s more to life than Stilton.

Is it so hard to think beyond crappy filo pies, slabs of cheese and lasagnes? I know a lot of chefs look at vegetarians in a disdainful, disparaging way, but if we’ve got the money in our back pockets and we want to spend it eating your cooking, why won’t you serve us up something decent?

I’m not asking for the world, I’m just asking for a little bit of excitement on my plate, not the lazy “that’ll do” option. So down with burnt filo pastry, soggy lasagnes and blue cheese and mushroom monstrosities. You can do better, I know you can.

Veggie restaurant food

3 responses to “Veggie restaurant food: a rant

  1. Ah nightmare. I have to say, I’ve had the opposite experience as well, where they’ve made much more effort with the veggie option and it’s been better than the meat. Sadly I think what you describe is in the majority though.x

  2. I’m not a veggie but my partner is and so I totally understand your situation. I feel like I have to research a restaurant before I visit to make sure that there is not just a veggie option but also something that he will like, because veggies are allowed to have preferences too.

    We cook vegetarian meals every night of the week and have such a great variety that we never get bored. It’s all about using Quorn instead of meat, and then you can pretty much cook any meal. I wish more restaurants understood this.

  3. This is why we made sure the veggie option at our wedding meal was decent

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