Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Grocery - friend to vegetarians

When The Grocery first opened on Smith Street in Brooklyn, we were among the early adopters. We went several times before its astronomical Zagat rating, including one memorable anniversary dinner in the garden, where I was attacked by mosquitoes and owner Sharon Pachter helpfully surrounded me with Citronella candles.

But for whatever reason – excellent restaurants closer to home, the tanking economy, busy lives, we hadn’t returned in a couple of years.

This was a mistake.

The Grocery is even better than I remember, a pitch-perfect restaurant that even has a nightly “vegetables grains, greens and legumes” plate, a vegetarian’s delight. The entrĂ©e, also available in an appetizer portion, has 12-15 different ingredients, which show a particular care towards vegetarian diners.

The night we went, our party of four had to wait 15 minutes for our reservation. Not so terrible, but if The Grocery has one flaw, it is that it is a bit cramped. And extremely popular. On a cold night, there is nowhere to wait.

But the waiter took our cell phone number so we could go to the bar next door and he could call when they were ready.

The effusive apologies – plus 2 amuse bouches, both vegetarian, more than made up for our short wait. Potato balls and parsnip soup eased our hunger pangs.

We couldn’t decide between roasted beets with goat cheese ravioli, fried artichoke and escarole salad, and the farro cake with cauliflower and hen of the woods mushrooms (but without the bacon) so decided to get all three and share four ways. Our waiter also brought us a surprisingly delicious special, French fry salad, that he said we had ‘accidentally forgotten to order.’ It had mushrooms and lots of parsley, and the fries stayed crisp.

Other veggie apps include ‘teenage’ greens and smoked salmon with endive and potato pancake.

Vegetarian entrees include the aforementioned vegetable plate and a spinach & mushroom lasagna with celery root puree that tasted nothing like a traditional lasagna but was rich andflavorful. Seared scallops in a spinach and Meyer lemon puree is the only other vegetarian choice, though specials included an amazing sounding pasta and another fish.

Tuesdays – Thursdays, The Grocery offers a green plate special, a 4 course vegetarian tasting menu for $35. We will be back.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Eat your greens - and eat green

One of my reasons for becoming a vegetarian was to eat lower on the food chain. The Green Restaurant Association helps by certifying green restaurants, based on a point system. Del Posto is a 2 star certified restaurant, due to such practices as buying energy star appliances, using compact fluorescent bulbs and serving vegan and vegetarian food.

Italian restaurants are particularly well suited to vegetarians, and Del Posto is no exception. Appetizers include salads, roasted vegetables with truffled hazelnuts and lobster with broccoli rabe. Main courses range from pasta with beans and black cabbage or pumpkin pasta with almond and black truffles to a number of fish dishes. There are meat entrees, but vegetarians should have no problem choosing a meal.

If you are looking to get more protein, you can finish your meal with a cheese course. But if you want to mix sweet and savory, get more vegetables in your meal with the carrot torte with parsnip gelato. If you didn’t know you were eating root vegetables, you would just think this was a delicious dessert (there is also tartufo, for the less adventurous.

One important note for vegetarians – though the bread basket is delicious, the accompanying butter comes with a whitish mate on a tray. The non-butter substance turns out to be lard. Proceed with cauthion.