How many of you out there are vegan? I have no strong opinion about veganism, but recently visited a nice vegan restaurant in Somerville called True Bistro with my boyfriend. Unlike a few other vegetarian and vegan eateries in the area like Veggie Galaxy, True Bistro boasts an upscale atmosphere in addition to a quirky no-meat reputation.
The dinner menu was divided into three sections—salads, small plates, and large plates. Dishes included Butternut Squash Manicotti, Crispy Polenta Squares, and Devils on Horseback. As someone with dietary restrictions, it was a very nice experience for me to peruse the entirety of the menu without having to guess whether an unknown ingredient was a meat product. After much deliberation, I decided on the Butternut Squash Manicotti only to discover to my chagrin that the dish was unavailable, so I ordered the Fresh Saffron Fettuccine.
My honest first impression was that the dishes were rather small—fancy but “French” sized. My boyfriend ordered the Devils on Horse Back as an appetizer, which were two dates, wrapped in tofu, and topped with cashew “cheese.” The “small plate” was in fact two bite-sized pieces. The server described the small plates as ‘appetizers,’ however, in my opinion, this would only be a suitable appetizer for a single person. The fettuccine was flavorful with garlic, vegetables, and tasted slightly cheesy without any real cheese.
Looking over the menu items, I noticed that many dishes were carbohydrate dense, with a strong reliance on pasta, potatoes, and rice. Even the tofu and seitan meals were merely sprinkled with protein under hearty carbohydrate bases. I’m a protein and vegetable person and even the “large dishes” felt rather light. Our dinner at True Bistro ended with dessert—pumpkin cheesecake and a “chocolate for life,” which was a mocha mousse cake and chocolate cookie with whipped cream. As a cheesecake fanatic, I felt that the pumpkin creation was too sweet and did not have the cheesecake taste (although the look was spot on!)—however, for a vegan product, it was excellent!
A thought on veganism, in my limited experience with vegan friends and family members, I feel that there are two large categories of consumers—the reluctant and the enthusiastic vegan. By ‘reluctant’ and ‘enthusiastic’ I do not mean the attitudes towards veganism itself, rather the approach to non-animal product consumption. In my opinion, ‘reluctant’ vegans have a diet that consists of snack foods, protein bars, and faux meat products like ‘veggie’ sausage and burgers. ‘Enthusiastic’ vegans, in my mind, are those who eagerly slice, dice, mix and sauté vegetables, tofu, and grains (or just buy these less-processed dishes). Of course, some reluctant vegans enjoy veggie stir fry and more natural dishes, while enthusiastic vegans may be delighted to find an “impossible” burger at a restaurant. I only point out this observation, because Tue Bistro seemed to be more ‘enthusiastically’ vegan. The restaurant celebrated vegetables and grains rather than pressing them into unnatural shapes and injecting them with foreign flavors.
More than one of my vegan friends have stated that if you cook for yourself then veganism is quite easy. They say that is only when they attend events or go out to eat that their veganism seems like a restriction. It’s great to know that there are places like True Bistro that can offer a unique, quality dining experience for vegans. While it may not be my new favorite dinner spot, it was definitely a welcome and interesting change of pace. I hope that you too, Dear Reader, will continue to find little ways to spark joy in your life.