As much as I eat at home, I do eat out a lot. I think I've definitely exceeded my 'seafood twice a week' rule, it just seems impossible to get a decent meatless meal in a restaurant. I'm finding that doing a menu scan of prospective menus certainly plays a big part in my venue choices. Do they have a decent selection of meat-free choices? Do they have enough vegetarian dishes/sides to combine to make a meal? A lot of the time, I do not want a plate of pasta with mushrooms and tomatoes dotting the top - can I have something more substantial? Evidently not.
I went to a restaurant recently where I opted for the pound of mussels because I simply was not going to pay $20 for penne with mushrooms. Or eat a 'dinner' of edamame and a side Caesar.
I made the poor (but still fun) decision of visiting a smokehouse with a couple of friends to check out their offerings. The smell of smoked meat hit me like a ton of bricks as soon as I stepped out of my car. How was I going to survive this lunch? Would they have anything remotely acceptable for me to eat? Luckily the smokehouse is a shared commissary with other vendors, so at least I knew I would be able to eat desserts.
The charcuterie board made my heart sing with happiness yet my stomach cry with sorrow. I wouldn't be able to sample any of these tantalizing goods, and the extensive selection of sausage and meat rolls did nothing to allay my fears. I scanned the deli selections and noticed that they had two sad salads available, certainly not filling enough for lunch fare. I had to opt with seafood again and go with the halibut hand pie, which was delicious. I was disappointed there was no vegetable-filled pie or even a cheese-filled alternative. As a meat-eater I was thrilled at the selections, but as a temporary vegetarian I was disappointed.
I lamented to my lunchmates that I was having a difficult time finding a "substantial vegetarian meal out" and one of them sagely suggested that I go for ethnic. I had been going out for Japanese frequently but I realized that I had ignored a whole other world of vegetarian options. Paneer, anyone? Eggplant and chickpea stew? FALAFEL??!!!