It’s not often that an omnivore restaurant goes vegan, but it does happen. In this case, it’s Toscana Grill in Arlington, Virginia. Every weekend in April, in celebration of Earth Day, their menu goes completely vegan. So, what’s a vegetarian gal to do? Well, grab my in-house taste tester, hop on our bikes and head over to check it out! I’m very glad we did.
Toscana Grill worked with Compassion Over Killing to develop an all-vegan menu that pleases the palate as well as the soul. The restaurant was about 80% full and for a chilly Sunday night, I thought was a positive sign that their switchover was going well. Only one group of four turned and walked out the door when they heard that only vegan dishes were going to be served. They walked into the nondescript bar next door. I’m sure their meal was nothing near to the quality of food we received. Oh well, their loss.
The vegan menu featured seven vegan entrees including a chick’n picatta, chick’n risotto, garden lasagna, curry rice, tuscan risotto and beef strips. There were also soups, salads, starters and a wide-range of desserts. We ordered the artichoke tostini off the starter menu. I was expecting the artichokes to be chopped up and served atop crusty bread, but I was pleasantly surprised to see large hunks of artichokes piled on the plate drizzled with a fresh basil pesto sauce. The large hunks made it a little awkward to eat but so worth the effort.
The chick’n masala was a knock-out. The mushed potatoes had large chunks and sat in a thick and flavorful gravy. The chik’n was tender to the fork, well seasoned, and was a refreshing change to most vegan meals served in restaurants. The broccoli was crisp and fresh and I honestly could have used a little more of the vegetable and a little less of the mushed potato which filled me up very quickly. This dish was very filling and was definitely a perfect cold weather meal.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, there was a slight order snafu when it came to the beef strips. The menu described the beef strips as also being served with mushed potatoes as well as green beans. But, when it arrived at the table the beef strips sat on top of a salad of greens, tomatoes and carrots with a balsamic vinaigrette. We scratched our heads and just moved on. The beef strips were well seasoned and, dare I say, “meaty”? They would have been perfect with mashed potatoes but the dish had an overall light flavor. (And, left plenty of room for the in-house taste tester to eat the rest of my abundant mushed potatoes.)
A side note: The waitstaff still needs to work out some of the serving kinks like taking orders correctly and identifying who’s serving which table. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this aspect of the meal but I do believe that these oversights will be worked out with time. In the end, they were very kind about the mistake they did make in forgetting our appetizer…
That said, we’re looking forward to going to Toscana Grill again during their vegan weekends. The food was great. Either way, their normal menu features extensive selection of vegetarian, vegan and even raw options so it is worth a visit any day of the week.
2300 Clarendon Boulevard