Is is mandatory that American vegetarian food be boring and bland? Is that a rule somewhere? How is it that all manner of ethnic populations the world over produce meatless food bursting with spice and excitement and America produces Tofurky? I don’t get it.
In fact, I’d put Tofurky, Chick’n and Faken at the pinnacle of egregious vegetarian sins. Who made this crap up? Isn’t the point of Vegetarian food to be anti-meat? Why would a Vegetarian want to eat something pretending to be bacon? If a meat eater wants bacon, why would they choose a pallid non-meat version?
I’m so enraged by bad food. I want to be an equal opportunity eater but my experience with recent Vegetarian restaurants has a 20% success ratio and I chalk much of the failure up to a lack of culinary imagination, a fear of spice and the wrong-headed decision to take amazing vegetables and grains and process them into terrible meat substitutes.
I have vegetarian friends that are crossing me off their Christmas lists right now but my recent experience can be summed up by the equation Vegetarian = Boring.
Tasteful Kitchen is a lovely space run by lovely people with the best of intentions. They do manage to keep from using fake meats and they are (I think) the only restaurant in Tucson to offer Raw food but I still found their cooking to be completely underwhelming.
I had dinner at Tasteful Kitchen with my friend Sarah, who is vegetarian. We both opted for the prix fixe meal that included soup, entree and dessert for $25. I chose the vegetarian meal and Sarah went with the raw meal.
Dinner started with butternut squash soup for me and Sarah’s much fancier carrot ginger.
I think the soups had the most flavor of anything we ate that night. Sarah’s soup was actually spicy and mine had a little chili kick to it.
The entrees were less exciting. Sarah’s seaweed rolls looked very promising and artistic but I found them blandly chewy and insubstantial.
My shepherd’s pie-esque stew had a nice mashed potato crust that would have benefited from butter and/or cream and the vegetables beneath needed smoke and spice and depth of flavor. Maybe even more salt would have helped.
Fortunately, it’s easy to make a vegetarian dessert and the carrot cake was delicious though intensely sweet after a rather bland meal.
I will give Tasteful Kitchen high marks for their artistic food presentation and the server’s demeanor, which was serene and attentive. I also found the small space to be cozy and inviting. I basically love everything about this restaurant except for the food.
There are only a couple of Vegetarian restaurants in Tucson so I pity the Arizonian Vegetarian in their tepid choices. Lovin’ Spoonfuls has a menu full of fake meat and Tasteful Kitchen lacks spice and flavor.