replying to a message by Jim Leff on the Manhattan message board (use link below)
I have many friends who keep strictly kosher at home, but who accomodate to the realities of the business/non-kosher social world by either (stricter types) only eating uncooked fish, fruit and veggies (i.e., lots of sushi [fish, not seafood] and green salad) or (more relaxed types)only avoiding non-kosher meat and all seafood, and thus eating almost exactly like a strict vegetarian who eats fish.
As for Jim's statement that you can't ask more from a restaurant than you can ask from yourself, I think it's perfectly fair in this day and age to expect to get complete and straightforward answers to whether there is any meat or other animal products in a dish. This is not the same thing as asking the restaurant to prepare something differently, it's simply asking the waiter to check with the kitchen. This must be a common enough request in NY (between kosher-types and vegans and veggies) that restaurants are aware of whether they use chicken or veggie stock, etc.