Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Veggie Meals

Me slurping some delicious soup at the Veggie Grill, West Hollywood, CA

Late yesterday afternoon I took Bill to his favorite restaurant in Milton. 

Bill generally doesn't like to go to restaurants but he likes this one in Milton (which shall remain nameless but those who know me know the restaurant I'm talking about). He likes it because it's not noisy and crowded and no screaming kids.  It is also not very expensive and he really likes their soup (as do I) which is very good.  The restaurant has booths in addition to the ubiquitous tables with the four chairs around said tables. We always get a booth by the window.  

The waitresses are always glad to see us, they greet us with a smile on their face.  Bill has a favorite, her name is Tanya.  A middle aged, stocky, black woman.  Bill always teases her about how beautiful she is which she takes in good humor. She may not be Christie Brinkley "beautiful" but she has a beautiful soul and, as I said before, she is always glad to see us.  Bill feels comfortable at this restaurant.  And I am glad that I can take Bill out to a place where he feels comfortable and can kibitz with a nice person.  Bill can't stand to go to the usual beach resort restaurants that are noisy, expensive and uncomfortable. Especially these newer restaurants with the cushioned benched seating against the wall, where you're eating next to strangers (who came up with THAT idea?) of the spindly tables out in the middle of the floor with the equally spindly chairs.  We tried one of those restaurants (a new one in Milton directly across the street from where we ate last night) and we didn't like it.  Indifferent waitresses, noisy (see a pattern here?) and uncomfortable.  Also the choices of food are weird and expensive. Not a pleasant experience. 

Oh I know some say I don't know what I'm talking about but excuse me, I do.  We're talking about me and Bill here, not  you. 

My singular requirement for dining out is to be comfortable, eat food that I like at a reasonable price.  Also, food cooked on the premises and not this Sysco half cooked food that you see being unloaded every morning in Rehoboth Beach from their long tractor trailer trucks.  Food for the masses, food for the touristsas.   The reason you pay so much for the food in Rehoboth, which I find almost always to be mediocre at best, is because the restaurant owner/operators have to pay such high rents.  Of course you can fool yourself thinking you're eating in a fou fou restaurant, if that works for you fine.  Doesn't work for me.  You're paying a LOT of money for frozen food that's shipped in and warmed up and squirted with something of undetermined liquid for "presentation."  Give me a break.  But if that kind of dining works for you, and it does for many, then go for it.  Doesn't work for us.

A typical early morning sight in Rehoboth Beach's restaurants - the ubiquitous Sysco food truck unloading cartons of frozen (yes, FROZEN, and you thought they were cut fresh?) French Fries and other foodstuffs that you pay top beach dollar for - even the sea food is frozen.  If you want fresh seafood go to a place like Provincetown, Mass where there are actually fishermen who bring in the fresh catch of the day - Rehoboth Beach doesn't have any fishing trawlers, only beach umbrella and chair rentals.

Now, what is this too long blog posting leading up to?  Ever since I came back from Los Angeles, I haven't had one good meal out, including last night.  I go to this restaurant in Milton because Bill likes it but every time I get something there, I come home sick.  My stomach is a rumbling, saying to me "What are you doing to me!"  

Each time I go into this restaurant I look in vain for a veggie dish.  Of course most restaurants around here, "veggie" is a salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and (if you're lucky) a fresh red onion.  The ubiquitous iceberg lettuce which has absolute zero taste and nutritional value.  Every get one of those "Wedge" salads?  That's HALF a head of iceberg lettuce.  Talk about a make believe meal. All you're eating folks is the salad dressing that's on the worthless lettuce. 

So last night I tried something different.  I got the Eggplant Parmesan sandwich.  Hey, I like eggplant, what could go wrong? Well, I should have known.  The soggy, tasteless eggplant came in a huge roll (the roll was actually quite good, the few pieces I tore off) and was smothered in that rubbery mozzarella cheese.  Is it me or do you find that a big swab of mozzarella cheese has absolutely no taste, unless you think rubber has a taste.  The only taste I ever got from mozzarella was when it is browned on top of lasagna or a casserole. And then the taste is very faint.

I used to get a chicken caesar wrap at this restaurant but the chicken always tastes funky.  I suspect there is some old chicken sitting around at room temperature for a long time back in that kitchen.  I never order chicken any more at that restaurant.  

The one time I did get a vegetarian wrap (special request, it wasn't on the menu) I got some concoction of iceberg lettuce (there's that damn iceberg lettuce again) and tasteless winter tomatoes and red onion with a caesar dressing.  All I was crunching on was onions and slop.  

The photo above is one Pat took of me at the Veggie Grill in during our stay West Hollywood. 
 
That's Pat sitting at the table waiting for me at the Veggie Grill in West Hollywood.  Note the bright, inviting colors, space and total lack of screaming kids and NO WAITRESSES or attitude - this is relaxed dining folks


Everything they had on their menu was veggie and  . . . . delicious . . . . and tasty.  And you know what?  Made on the premise.  Nary a Sysco trailer food truck was to be seen early in the morning.  


The Veggie Grill at the Hollywood Walk of Fame - what I really liked about the Veggie Grill chain (in addition to the wonderfully healthy food at reasonable prices)  is how easy and efficient it was to place an order. Clean, fast and efficient and friendly.  What more can you ask? This restaurant is equally friendly to singles, couples and groups.  No attitude. 

I'm suffering here folks with the lack of choice of a good veggie option.  I can make something myself but I do like to go out.  Maybe someday someone will open up a restaurant for us who want fresh, wholesome food, sans grease and old chicken and . . . . . this is a BIG ONE . . . . NON-SEAFOOD (which I know is impossible being as to how we're here at "the beach") restaurant. Food when you eat it your stomach says:

"Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!" 

Just two of the many veggie options Pat and I ate at the Veggie Grill in West Hollywood
And thank you faithful blog followers (and anyone new to this blog) for indulging me again in one of my all too frequent rants.  Sometimes I feel I just have to get things off of my chest and that's why I love my blog. Now I feel a LOT better. 

10 comments:

  1. You should try Root Gourmet. Of course you'll pay for the quality.

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    1. Denise,
      I used to like Root Gourmet and would go out of my way (all the way down the treacherous Route One) to buy some of their offerings but the last few times I was disappointed. I think the food was too old, been in the display case too long. I stopped going back. I think the problem here in this resort area is that in the summer the restaurants are too busy and then business really drops off in the off season. It just doesn't pay for the restaurant to keep fully stocked. That's why they go with precooked Sysco crap and keep food in the display case too long. I remember one year I took my good friends Jack and Judy to the Frog Pond for lunch in the off season. I had to go through four entree selections, being told each time "We're out of that" and with an attitude (well, it is a lesbian bar after all and you know how some lesbians can be with men and straight folk - standoffish and indifferent even though they are in the customer service business). We finally found something they had in stock but it was so stale and tasteless I had a feeling it was way past it's expiration date. I can count on one hand the times I've been pleased with what I was served at a restaurant and I can tell you that each time it was freshly prepared food, not this half cooked crap that Sysco hauls in.
      Ron

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  2. There are so few restaurants that I like any more. And I'm not a picky eater. But food should taste good, the seating comfortable, and while I accept that in a fmaily restaurant there may be kids, good sound suppression works surprisingly well. But the food never tastes right. A couple of good steak houses around here can actually cook a steak decently, but the sides are always "off". We also have a couple of good, local BBQ joints, one with AWESOME brewed on the premises beer, so I am happy there. They also have the best prime rib in the area. I dunno. Maybe I'm getting pickier since a good meal out costs $25-30. I can fix the same thing without the drizzles for $5 and have leftovers for lunch! I agree with you, Ron, whatever your tastes, it's hard to eat out any more.

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Jay,
      Actually I don't consider myself a picky eater either. You probably wouldn't come to that conclusion reading how often I complain about restaurants in this area. When I used to vacation in Provincetown, there was only one restaurant I didn't like and I was warned that it was a tourist trap, and it was right down to the moldy bread and chips water glass which I almost cut my lip on. I think the problem here in Rehoboth, with a few exceptions, is that the places I have eaten (and believe me I've hardly touched the surface of the number of restaurants available but most of them are closed in the winter months when I can get to them and in the summer months I don't even try) are overpriced, tourist traps. And another thing, I'm not against kids in restaurants and in fact I have seen families with well behaved kids in restaurants. It's the ones who let their kids run wild without regard to the other customers in the restaurants. One really sore point I have though is the families that bring babies in baskets in restaurants and put the basket on the table next to me with the gurgling baby who almost always shits him or herself during the course of the meal. Hey, either get a baby sitter or don't go to the restaurant. Have some respect for the other customers of the restaurant who are paying usually a high price for a pleasant dining experience which doesn't happen when your little miracle is pooping him or herself and I get to smell that poop while I'm eating. Even last year, while I was at Cafe Azafran with Pat for a romantic dinner (and expensive), I had to witness a mom breastfeeding her little miracle. Lovely, just lovely. That sight sure didn't help my appetite and contributor to a pleasant night out at the restaurant. The worst experience I ever had was when a coach brought his whole baseball team in the restaurant (Cracker Barrell) to celebrate their win. That happened in Virginia a couple of years ago when Bill and I were vacationing south. Well, at least they were having a good time even though they made life miserable for everyone else in the restaurant. A regular Animal House. You know what's really hard to get any more? A good hamburger. The Purple Parrot in Rehoboth makes good hamburgers but that's about it. Good luck finding a meat patty anywhere else that tastes like a real hamburger. That's my ultimate test, if they can't make a good hamburger, what can they make?
      Ron

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  3. I agree with you about restaurants. Even here in France, the trend is for pre-made food that's thawed or re-heated. In most restaurants, the best bet is the "plat du jour" which is normally, but not always, made that day by the cook. Of course, your high-end restos are different, but I don't pay those ridiculous prices any more. Still, I have some favorites that we go to from time to time, especially with friends or visitors. As for mozzarella, the real stuff is quite good, mild, but flavorful, and pricey. Mostly what you get these days is industrially made rubber-like "cheese food product" exactly as you described it. Bon apétit !

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    1. Walt,
      I can always tell the difference between the semi-cooked meals that some restaurants try to fawn off and the freshly prepared entrees. For instance, a restaurant in Lewes (Agave) always has freshly prepared food, and you can tell by the line that forms outside prior to their daily opening and the one to two hour wait during the season to get a table. The food just tastes better. I like your description of the mozzarella we too often have served to us these days as "rubber-like "cheese food product".
      Ro

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  4. It is always a disappointment to have eggplant done badly; alas, this is often more so than not.

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    1. Dr. Spo,
      More often than not when I order Eggplant Parmesan I receive a soggy, tasteless mess. Swamp food with rubbery Mozzarella cheese. So disappointing.
      Ron

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  5. I'm with you on the Mozzarella, Ron. When I lived in Germany they always served it on a bed of sliced tomatoes, and to get any taste at all it completely depended on the quality of the toms, 'cos the cheese provided not a morsel for taste-buds appreciation - but it always looked good. A feast for the eyes, ONLY!.

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    1. Ray,
      I never got the whole Mozzarella cheese thing. The only time it had any hint of a taste was when it was browned on top of a casserole like lasagna. Other than that all I was eating was a piece of yellow rubber. Like you said, "a feast for the eyes only."
      Ron

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