Archive for the ‘Travel’

A Vegetarian in the Carnivore’s Den: Animal Restaurant

February 28, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Restaurant Review, Travel

Animal Restaurant - Carrot Salad

One glance at the menu at Animal would make any vegetarian want to curl up into the fetal position or turn tail and run. Oxtail gravy, chicken livers, rabbit loins and pig ears? Holy molies. There are just some of the many carnivorous “delicacies” that are available on the Animal menu.

In fact, what can a vegetarian possibly find at restaurant that positions itself as “delicious, rustic and unapologetically carnivorous”? It really is sort of a strange place to go considering you can trip over a vegetarian restaurant almost at every turn. Well, their vegetarian dishes – of which they have several – are made with fresh, local produce and are bursting with unique flavors. They are created with the same attention to detail and, dare I say, “love” as their meat dishes.

Animal is located in a nondescript building, with no outside signage on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. Once inside, it’s a small space bustling with activity and filled with billowing laughter and animated conversation.

Jon Shook, co-owner of Animal, walked by us as we waited for our table.  His eyes lit up when I mentioned I was a vegetarian and was looking for suggestions. Even though Animal is known for it’s extensive menu of animal parts I think sometimes the care and attention they place on their vegetable dishes gets overshadowed. He assured me that I would be more than happy with what they had to offer and pointed out some of his favorite vegetarian dishes including the blood orange salad.

The servers were pleasant, funny and knowledgeable, recommending which dishes were vegetarian, and treating us with the same respect as the others at the table that were ready to dig into their meat dishes.

Animal is very serious about not making changes to the menu.  We tried to get some of the gnocchi without the bologenese sauce but it was a no-go. They pre-mix the gnocchi and the sauce and do not make special orders.

As the wine flowed, we were slowly served our plates as they were ready. It’s a family style restaurant so be ready to share with your table partners.

The carrot salad had a light and tangy green goddess dressing. The delicate carrots were sliced into almost translucent sheets and served with sunchokes and avocado.

The crispy hominy was simply made but complex in the taste experience. Visually, it wasn’t a stunner. However, once you popped them into your mouth, the crisp outside of the hominy gave way to a warm chewy interior. (Although, some of the smaller bits of hominy were a bit over-battered and were a little too chewy.) With a spritz of lime juice, these tiny bits were an unexpected treat.

I can’t think of enough superlative adjectives for the blood orange salad. Simply put, it took all attention away from every other dish we ordered. The spicy chili oil and the subtle tang of the red onion swirled with the bitter blood orange and the salty castleventrano olives. This plate was hands-down the best example of how fresh ingredients and a creative culinary view can turn dinner into a dining experience.

Coming in a close second was the baby kale salad with pecorino cheese, lemon and smashed croutons. The croutons were more like crunchy and salty breadcrumbs and the kale was perfectly cooked with still some crispness left in the leaves.

Don’t forget to end your meal with a plate of donuts. They come to your table piping hot with a warm caramel sauce. They were in high demand at our table and were quickly devoured before I could take a picture of them.

The menu changes every day as I’m sure they base their selections off of what’s available in market that day or week. I’d recommend calling to see what vegetarian options are available and to secure reservations. The restaurant was packed when we were there on a rainy Friday night. (As for the carnivores in your group, I was assured, by our pack of meat eaters, that they will not go away hungry.)

435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

I must apologize, due to the dark ambiance my pictures came out a little blurry…

A Quick Taste of Vegetarian San Francisco

February 20, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Restaurant Review, Travel

Not much time for a full post as I’m still hopping from city to city, but I wanted to share some of the flavor from my San Francisco leg of my trip. These pictures come from a great meal I had at Americano Restaurant.  It is located in Hotel Vitale at the corner of Mission and Embarcadero. Great vegetarian selection!

Funghi Pizza

Grilled Italian Broccoli

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Artichoke Hearts

Restaurant Review: The Seagrove Coyote, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

January 02, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Restaurant Review, Travel

We spent the holidays biking in and around Destin, Florida. On our way out along the bike path on 30A, my keen-eyed partner spotted a chalkboard with “Create Your Own Burritos!” on it. He immediately knew that we had to stop at The Seagrove Coyote on our way back.

We walked into the restaurant, grabbed a pencil, and filled out our individual orders on a “dog tag”. First you can pick if you want a burrito, taco, quesadilla, or nachos. As a healthy alternative, they offer a sprouted grain flourless tortilla for an extra $1.50. For fillings, you can choose “no meat” and move on to the giant list of ingredients including black beans, rice, cheese, mushrooms, red salsa, cilantro and a lot more. It was refreshing to be able to control the ingredients in my meal and have no misunderstanding that I didn’t want any meat at all. When you’re done picking out your options, you hand in your ticket at the register and sit back and wait…

The restaurant was a little crowded when we got there so we had to wait a rather long time for our order to come out. Our server was beyond apologetic and very nice to us while we waited. It was no problem because while we were waiting we were able to partake in the ample beer cooler and salsa bar. (It was also nice to warm up after spending most of the day battling the wind and cold on our bikes.)

As each made to order plate was ready, it was brought to our table. We weren’t shy about digging in because at the point our order arrived we were truly starving.

The wait was worth it, though. The burrito was piping hot, smothered in a delicious sauce and filled with fresh ingredients. And, best of all, each burrito was humongous.

The Seagrove Coyote is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch. Cyclists won’t have to worry, there are plenty of bike racks out front. If there is a crowd, expect to wait a bit for your food. But, if you’re on vacation, you shouldn’t be in a hurry anyways, right? It was the perfect meal to get back on the bikes and make it home in time for a beautiful sunset.

The Seagrove Coyote

4281 ECO 30-A
Santa Rosa Beach, FL, 32459

Bryce Canyon, Utah: Home of The Best Portabello Sandwiches

December 09, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Restaurant Review, Travel

Rubys Cowboy Buffet

If you’re headed to Bryce Canyon and are looking for a satisfying lunch, stop at Ruby’s Cowboy Buffet. You can’t miss it. It’s on the way to the Bryce Canyon exit and huge billboards lead the way into the parking lot. Across the street there is even a little old west town recreation.

Rubys Cowboy Buffet

The reason why I mention this out of the way place is that Ruby’s Cowboy Buffet is that it is home of one of the best portabello mushroom sandwiches I’ve ever tasted.

Rubys Cowboy Buffet We visited this restaurant in the off-season, so it was a little quiet.  But, judging from all the seats and the giant buffet room, I’m sure it can get quite crowded. That aside, the portabello sandwich was a surprising find after a long exhausting hike. It was served on a buttered and toasted croissant and had a deep smoky grilled flavor. There are several other vegetarian options on the menu, but this sandwich is a must get.

Rubys Cowboy Buffet

Ruby’s Inn
26 So Main, Bryce Canyon City, Utah

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