While you, like me, might feel that the only life scarier than an ovo-lacto vegetarian is the life of the dairy-less vegan, I am also not a diehard red-meat-loving Midwesterner and have always been interested in tasting what the best vegetarian-oriented spots in St. Louis have to offer. The problem, of course, is that in St. Louis, good food and vegetarian food rarely go hand in hand, and vegetarian cuisine of any sort, let alone the upscale sort, represents a large void in need of options.
With St. Louis seemingly unable to support a full scale vegetarian restaurant in the way that other large cities can, the vegans of our city are left to navigate the meated-menus of restaurants with a token vegetarian option or two–fingers crossed the whole time that the kitchen is being truthful about the omission of stock, or butter, or whatever items their flavor of vegetarianism prohibits.
Worst of all, many of those items are often dishes from which the meat was simply plucked away and replaced by either nothing, or worse still, with something ridiculous like portabella mushrooms because that whole “steak of mushrooms” thing is absolute baloney.
The exception of course was the food Dave Owens put on his menus at both Cardwell’s and Terrene. Although neither was a vegetarian restaurant outright, being a vegetarian himself, Owens always included options which every variety of vegetarian could enjoy. Best of all the choices actually sounded good even if you weren’t a vegetarian.
But sadly Owens and his wife Margaret Kelly have left the restaurant life behind, and while many say that Terrene continues to impress, I couldn’t help but lament the loss over the weekend as I had the opportunity to once again experience their food at Lambstravaganza. While it did contain meat (which you will see in a later post), the obvious affection for vegetables was clear the minute you laid eyes on it.
So my question is this: Where can vegetarians turn in St. Louis? With few strictly vegetarian restaurants, where can the truly great vegetarian food in our city be found?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about a great deal lately, and especially so after running across a website I’d not see before: Show Me Vegan.