While having dinner at one of the newest entries in Detroit’s ever-growing restaurant scene, I couldn’t help but notice how many of these new menus are catering to meatless appetizers and entrees. And I don’t mean with distain or with the patronizing attitude of some meat-centric chef resulting in the obligatory plate of steamed vegetables being listed at the bottom of the menu.
Orange is the new black, 50 is the new 40, and in many of Detroit’s newest, hippest restaurants…Vegetables are the new meat. Well, sorta…
Joining vegetables in their newly re-found popularity are their protein partners: legumes, beans, rice, ancient grains like quinoa, and depending on how you define your vegetarianism, exotic eggs, artisan cheeses and milks, all of which add to any chef’s creative arsenal.
“Meatless” isn’t a dirty word in the kitchens of today’s national culinary stars either. It’s just another opportunity to create great-tasting dishes from the sharpest crayons in the box, sharp because they’re rarely used by chefs with less imagination. In my travels around Southeast Michigan, I’m finding that not only are vegetarian dishes showing up more frequently and prominently on mainstream menus, but the ideas are so appealing, you quite often forget they’re sans meat.
One example close to home is Nino’s popular Eggplant Rollatini, which is basil-pesto-tossed vermicelli with a crisp wrapper of breaded eggplant smothered with marinara and topped with Parmesan cheese. It’s so delicious that you can easily forget it’s meatless and it’s one of our most popular Italian entrees, meat or otherwise.
My blog, Great Vegetarian Meals for the Beginner, covers the basic and most popular vegetarian diets and includes a few recipes. I also sent out new meatless recipes spaced throughout the year, most commonly throughout Lent and into the warm summer months. You can expect I’ll be sharing more of my favorite recipes this year as well.
You’ll also find a wealth of vegetarian-friendly dishes in Nino’s recipe collection on our website. From appetizers and salads to entrees and desserts, there’s something for everyone. In fact, later this month, I’ll share my recipe for Potato Gnocchi with you.
If you’re out on the town in Southeast Michigan, here is a list of some of Metro Detroit’s vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Of course, at the top of the list are a few of our area’s most well-known Meatless Maestros: Inn Season Cafe (500 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak), the Om Café (23136 Woodward, Detroit) and Seva (66 E. Forest Ave., Detroit). Another venerable addition to that old guard is the Traffic Jam & Snug, nested in Wayne State University’s backyard.
If you’re looking for a new haunt, try Le Petite Zinc or Gold Cash Gold in Corktown, Antietam on Gratiot near the Eastern Market or the Detroit Free Press’ newly crowned Restaurant of the Year, Selden Standard on 2nd Ave. It’s halfway between Downtown Detroit and the New Center Area.
Speaking of Antietam, Its featured in my recent Restaurant Review Blog! Unlike decades ago, vegetarians are being listened to and more importantly catered to. It’s a good time to be a vegetarian in Southeast Michigan.