My poor husband– sometimes he is just so deprived.
What I mean by that is he is restaurant-deprived. Specifically, he is deprived of dining at restaurants that I deem as totally vegan-unfriendly. My husband is a meat-eater, big-time, but he is so good as to not ask me to go to places where it is unlikely I will get a good vegan, low-gluten meal. Therefore, there’s a long list of Rhode Island restaurants my carnivorous hubby is dying to go to but hasn’t had the chance to because his vegan wife won’t let him.:)
But every once in a blue moon, the stars align in just such a way that my husband is able to go to a restaurant that I wouldn’t necessarily approve of due to the lack of vegan options. This rare occasion actually occurred on a recent Saturday night, when my husband and I joined a group of friends at well-reputed Chez Pascal, a French-American bistro in Providence.
Whenever my husband and I toss around restaurant options, my husband doesn’t even dare bring up Chez Pascal because of the simple fact that most French restaurants are not vegan or even vegetarian-friendly. However, since friends of ours invited us to join them there, my husband was all over it because he has been dying to go there and try some of the things they are most known for– escargot and duck. I wasn’t sure how I would fare but was up for the challenge of working with the existing menu to craft myself a decent meal.
As expected, there were no explicitly vegan options on the menu, but my eyes spotted a butternut squash salad with cabbage, feta and croutons. I figured I could easily veganize and de-glutenize it with a few small changes. I asked the waitress if they could prep the salad without feta and the croutons, and add beets and walnuts (which I spotted on a different salad on the menu). At first, she hesitated, saying she had to check with the chef if the flavors would work together. In other words, she was unsure if the chef would allow his salad to be altered. Then, she sort of changed her tune and said it shouldn’t be a problem. Personally, I understand that oftentimes, chefs have a vision for their food and don’t want that vision to be corrupted, but at the same time, I thought it was a bit strange such a request could not be accommodated without hesitation since the additional components were things on other salads off the menu.
Chez Pascal’s menu did not have a section of sides, so I asked if they had fries, or frites. They weren’t listed on the menu, and it turns out they have no fry-o-later– therefore, they had no fries. I then requested a side of roasted veggies (which I noticed were part of another entree) and the waitress said it wouldn’t be a problem. I have to give props to the waitress– I could tell she wanted to do the best to accommodate me but that she was unsure as to how the kitchen would react to my requests.
When the salad came, I was visually blown away. It was a gorgeous mound of red and white cabbage, butternut squash, beets, candied walnuts and greens.
Fortunately, the salad lived up to its image in the taste department. All the veggies were in their ideal state: the beets were tender, the squash perfectly roasted and the cabbage nice and crisp. The dressing was sweet and tangy, and the nuts added the right amount of crunch.
Just like the salad, the side of veggies presented was gorgeous. And like the salad, the veggies tasted as good as they looked! Not only were there onions and a bunch of root veggies, but there were what I believe to be pumpkin seeds in the mix too! Delicious isn’t even enough of a word to describe how good they were!
I had a great meal at Chez Pascal. . . I would certainly return there with friends, but I don’t think I would ever choose to go there myself only because vegan and gluten-free options are limited. I don’t blame the restaurant though– obviously it never intended itself to be vegan-friendly. . . I mean, it’s a French bistro after all!
Because I wasn’t exactly full (and I did run fourteen miles that day), I went home and composed a major dessert bowl! It started with a piece of vegan and gluten-free banana chocolate chip bread.
To this, I pretty much added everything under the sun! I started with some vanilla soy ice cream and chocolate chip cookie dough coconut milk ice cream, but I couldn’t stop there. I topped the ice cream with the following: mixed nuts, dark chocolate almond bark, chocolate chip granola chunks, sea-salted ale brittle, and peanut brittle. All vegan, all gluten-free, and all an amazing way to make up for the calories I didn’t get at dinner!
Do you think all restaurants should be able to accommodate a one with dietary restrictions, or do you think a restaurant shouldn’t have to consider offering vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free options if it doesn’t want to?