Although I wish I could, I don’t eat out at restaurants all that often; my wallet does not allow it to happen as much as my stomach wants. So when I do go out for dinner, I am not being hyperbolic when I say that I read every single Yelp review on a several restaurants before finally deciding on a winner. This obsessive research usually pays off, and I am happy with my choice of restaurant around 95% of the time.
This weekend, I was trying to impress my special someone on their birthday, so I turned to the ever trusty Yelp. This restaurant sounded simply perfect: it had a dedicated vegan menu with tons options, and it looked fancy enough for a night out. Of course, I would happen to pick an absolutely terrible restaurant whilst trying to impress someone on their birthday. I’m not in the business of trying to ruin a restaurant’s reputation through my food blog, so I won’t go into specifics about the name or location.
But when we got there, it was clear that the chef had created his vegan menu without ever speaking to a single vegan. It was also clear that he did not have access to the Internet, or cookbooks, as his creations could not even have been called imitations of the real dishes. We ordered their ratatouille, and a snobby waiter served us mushy carrots covered in a burnt sugar with coleslaw on top. What?! In no world is that considered ratatouille. We ordered their “assortment of pickled vegetables”, and received vegetables clearly from a can, and weirdly enough, grapes and apples with vinegar on top. Ehh, I’m not a chef, but I’m pretty sure that grapes and apples are not vegetables.
The bamboo that broke the panda’s back? We ordered their “Almond milk risotto”, and what magically appeared was a sludgy pile of rice cooked in spaghetti sauce, that was served floating around in a lukewarm puddle of milk. So gross. I’m getting shivers just thinking about their risotto.
As soon as I got home, I hangry (hungry and angry) Yelped. I think I should have a new rule against that. Don’t drink and drive; don’t eat terrible risotto and Yelp. I’ll give you a little tidbit of my hangry self on Yelp, “Chef, I dare you to look up any risotto recipe on the Internet. Please. Believe it or not, risotto actually has the liquid cooked INTO the rice, instead of simply pouring the liquid on top of the rice. If I had wanted that, I would have ordered a bowl of rice, a glass of milk, and combined it myself.”
I was starting to feel guilty about my review, but the next morning, I received two extremely sarcastic and rude comments from the owner. And part of his message was, “Wanda, are you a chef? I challenge you to come into our restaurant and cook vegan dishes for us.” Guilt, evaporated. Challenge, accepted.
Here’s a risotto recipe that you can actually serve in a restaurant: dreamy pillowy soft kernels of arborio rice, slowly cooked with vegetable broth, shiitake mushrooms, and almond milk, then topped with asparagus and baby squash. Drizzle on some truffle oil at the end, and I guarantee you no more hangry Yelp reviews.