Friday, August 03, 2012

What is a vegetarian to do?

What you have for lunch when they don't have a vegetarian menu option besides green salad...and olives

 I had been looking forward to lunch at this restaurant for months. Located in a nice hotel in Santa Barbara, I expected this restaurant to knock my socks off. I finally had a day off and went up to Santa Barbara for the morning. I fotzed around town, waiting for lunchtime.

At 11:30, I finally walked over to the hotel and found the restaurant. It was completely empty. Just me and a bunch of helpful staff. I looked at the menu. Hm. Hm. Nothing for vegetarians. One green salad. All of the other salads had meat or fish. No pasta. No starches. No tofu, no vegetable soup or stew or chili or tagine or casserole. Nothing.

 I thought the server might be able to help. We WERE in Santa Barbara, for goodness' sake.

 "I'm a vegetarian. What do you suggest?"
 "Do you eat fish?" I managed to hold back from asking my smartass question: "Is a fish a vegetable?"

 "Well..." she regarded the menu. "We have this green salad that is very good....I think maybe they might be able to make you a grilled vegetable sandwich or...well, the green salad. We have that. Or the cobb salad is very good. We could leave off everything but the egg and cheese..."

 I didn't mention that I loathe hard-boiled eggs. I figured it was just too much. "Or this Caesar salad," she said, pointing to the menu. "Well, it just has fish, with the anchovies..."

"I guess I'll have the green salad," I said. "And the citrus-marinated olives. And a glass of sauvignon blanc."

The wine took the edge off. The olive plate was giant and very good. I ended up taking 3/4 of it to go and giving it to a very grateful homeless woman.

But that was lunch. Green salad and olives.

Believe me, I left hungry, and more than a little sad. I felt like something I had wanted and had anticipated had let me down so much.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I was, that in 2012 a fine California restaurant would show so little regard for its vegetarian clientle. What would you have done?