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Fine vegetarian dining?

Sam | Feb 12, 200101:39 PM

I have decided not to eat the flesh of any animals, vertebrate or invertebrate. (Eggs and dairy I do eat.) This decision makes eating in the vast majority of Los Angeles's restaurants a bit frustrating. Nearly all Korean and Southeast Asian restaurants must be immediately ruled out, since man cannot live on sticky rice and chewing gum. The finer European and American restaurants rarely offer any vegetarian entrée besides some token "vegetarian platter." Often one has to quiz one's waiter to determine whether a soup might pass muster. It's dreadful being a vegetarian!

In San Francisco it's not so bad, since a number of excellent vegetarian resturants sprang up after Greens showed it could be done. But I am not your brown rice and wheatgrass vegetarian. I like my rice white and my wheat degermed and ground into flour.

In addition, I am not particularly fond of Indian cuisine.

Who has had luck finding excellent vegetarian entrées at the most celebrated of Los Angeles restaurants? I have in mind places like Joe's, Border Grill, Mimosa, Campanile, Spago and Lucques. I would also like to know whether Girasole, Ca'Brea, L'Angolo, Alto Palato, Chadwick, Pastis and other French, American and Italian restaurants have fine vegetarian offerings.

It's not so difficult to make extraordinary food without using animal flesh, after all. My god, do cepes, haricots verts, rosemary, freerange eggs, Humboldt Fog, fennel, broccoli rabe, cream and chard really present such a challenge? Or do chefs steer clear of vegetarian menu items because they don't feel justified charging $20 unless there's some fish, flesh or fowl there?

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