Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The same 4 restaurants are getting old...

On Sunday Justin and I were tired and starving after a day of intense packing in a hot and humid apartment so we decided to venture into the city to find ourselves some dinner. Always wanting to try something new, I asked if we could avoid our usual vegan standbys - The Green Elephant, Local Sprouts, Pom Thai and Portland Pie - and find something new and exciting! So we drove into town.

As we cruised down Congress Street looking left and right for options, a majority of the restaurants were closed or grills with meat-heavy menus. On to the Old Port! We parked and walked up to The Corner Room, squinted at the menu and saw one vegan option - spaghetti with sauce (unconfirmed if it's actually vegan). I'm sorry, but I am not paying $12 for a plate of spaghetti with red sauce. No way, man. So we walked over to Sonny's on Exchange and peered at the menu - nothing. At this point, I started feeling dizzy from lack of food and water and Justin was getting incredibly annoyed. We sat and thought about where a vegan friendly meal could be found in the Old Port on a Sunday night and could not come up with a single idea (I know, some of you may be yelling, "Pepperclub!" but we've been there and have been incredibly dissatisfied with the quality of the food and the service and the prices). So I suggested Sebego Brewing Company or Whole Foods salad bar and we ended up at Sebego.

It's not like there are a million options at this joint either but there was at least one option in each section of the menu that we could modify in some way to make it be vegan. The dinner was lame. I mean, really lame. Canned veggies on the salad, wilty lettuce, slow service. We left feeling annoyed at our city. (*I will give them kudos for offering a Meatless Monday supplement menu. It's not in place of their normal menu, it's just some specials, but I'm pretty sure they all included cheese.)

Portland is always named the "foody" city of New England. It is praised for its skilled chefs and fresh, local ingredients. But lately, I haven't been feeling like there are any good options out there. It is seriously a meat-eater's world in this city and it's pissing me off. Visit Boston, Philadelphia, New York, hell, visit the other Portland and a vegan does not have to even think about finding a place to eat. Everywhere has an option. Chefs are conscious about crafting menus that appeal to everyone. There IS a vegan population in Portland - it needs to wake up and shake this city. There are plenty of vegetarian options, but vegan has been left off the map. Chefs don't know what to do when cheese is taken from their ingredient list and we need to teach them that cooking vegan is friggin EASY!

Ok, cooling off now. But seriously, it is annoying. I guess, though, we'll just start saving more money because, as delicious as Green Elephant and Sprouts are, they get old when they're the only restaurants that serve a good and hearty vegan meal.

Justin suggested we create a website that chronicles all of the restaurants in the Greater Portland area - a food guide, of sorts. It would include reviews, the number of vegan and vegetarian items at each restaurant, and the restaurant's willingness to modify dishes. It's a really great idea and it's honestly something we're always looking for! So he just needs to learn how to use Dreamweaver and then we can create it! Here's hoping!


  1. Check out happycow.net--they've got sort of what Justin suggested doing but for places all over the globe.. I know how you feel--Mike and I hardly ever eat out anymore because he gets frustrated trying to find me a veg place and I get frustrated with whatever pitiful starch is passing for a vegetarian option these days. I got veggie fajitas at this restaurant on North Shore, it had frozen, microwave heated zucchini! It's just as soft and sponge-y as you'd imagine.

  2. It really does suck. I've checked Happy Cow and sadly there's nothing we didn't already know. The majority of what's listed for Portland is the Farmers Market...which is not a restaurant, and a few we've tried but don't like and our usual go-to's. I think the culture up here just needs to change...time times I wish we could switch places with the other Portland for a while.

  3. I found an AMAZING vegetarian and mostly vegan restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden of all places! Not that it helps you, but I was impressed. I smell a guest post finally...

  4. Haha! Thanks, Liz! I'll have to put Stockholm on my list of dream vacations :P