"Janice, I am the only vegetarian in our group of friends. We do enjoy dining out and most times they put the pressure on me to pick the restaurant, because of my 'restrictions.' In your reviews it would be most helpful if you could mention if the restaurant has vegetarian options. I notice that some (not many) restaurants do mention on their menu that 'vegetarian entrees are available ... ask your server.' Thanks."
-- Janet K.
Janet, your point is well taken. I do try to mention options in my weekly reviews, but sometimes space gets away from me. I also notice, though, that a growing number of restaurants include tempting vegetarian options -- with prices ranging from expensive to moderate. It is not the problem it used to be.
Maybe that's because we all have become much more accepting of our friends' diets and culinary tastes. Maybe it's because we have become more adventuresome.
You might want to consider these well-regarded places:
At Tempo, 581 Delaware Ave., one of Western New York's most upscale and trendy restaurants, chef Paul Jenkins offers several eligible secondi. Examples include Mezze Pasta with Vodka and Pomodoro Sauce and Cream, which can be ordered as a main dish or an appetizer.
(As you probably already know, Janet, pasta is a pretty good vegetarian bet in many restaurants. Keep your eyes on this section of the menu. Pizzerias offer interesting veggie options, too.)
Maybe your friends are steak fans. You can visit a steakhouse with a free heart. At E.B. Green's, 2 Fountain Plaza in the Hyatt Regency, they offer a Vegetarian Platter that changes with the season and comes with salad and baked potato.
Burgers? Why not. At the Soho Burger Bar, 64 W. Chippewa St., an upscale hamburger dispensary if ever there was one, enjoy the great decor and order a Vegetarian Burger (it's a loaded Portobello cap on a bun).
Moving down on the price scale (but not necessarily the quality scale), there's the recently reviewed, new and always crowded Black Forest Adler, 2447 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst. It's a German restaurant, and German food is not noted for its vegetarianism.
Still, you can order Allgauer Kaesespaetzle -- homemade noodles with cheese, piled high with crispy onions. It is served with salad on the side.
Or let your friends eat souvlaki or gyros at Pano's, 1082 Elmwood Ave., while you go to the vegetarian menu. Indulge in a Falafel Sandwich complete with roasted red peppers, tomatoes and tahini in a pita. Or a cold or grilled Northern Bean Salad on a pita.
Or, while I'm thinking of it, try the Black Beans and Rice at Betty's, 370 Virginia St. The menu at Betty's, an attractive neighborhood hangout, is varied, so the friends will be as happy as you.
I haven't mentioned Asian restaurants here because you probably know how many vegetarian dishes they serve. (Tofu, after all, is Asia's gift to the culinary world.)
And I didn't mention seafood restaurants because I don't know if you eat fish or not. But I did want to show how many options do exist.
And that "ask your server" advice? It's excellent. A good server knows.
See? "Satisfying gastronomic experiences for all" is a good motto.
And an easily attainable goal.
Send your dining questions and comments to Janice Okun at email@example.com. She will respond in this column.