Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Restaurant Review: Delicious Vegetarian Options and Easy to Decipher Menu at Lopez on Lee

I have friends who say that everything tastes better with bacon.  And unfortunately, some chefs seem to feel the same way.  Whether it's bacon, or chicken stock, or any other unexpected animal derived ingredient, the hip trend in gourmet cooking seems to include putting meat in places you wouldn't expect. (that's what she said)

Having grown up as a vegetarian, I know to ask the important questions.

1. Is there chicken/beef /veal stock in (insert entree name here)?  You'd be amazed at home many vegetable pasta dishes or even vegetable sides have a meat based stock used in their preparation. 
2. What do you fry your fries/pickles/onion rings in?  Some restaurants use things that you wouldn't expect when frying up things.  (hello, duck fat fries - I'm talking to you)
2a. Do you have a dedicated fryer for meat and non-meat items?  Ever had a fishy tasting fry?  Bet it was from a place that fries everything together!
3. Where do you grill your veggie burgers?  Some vegetarians don't care, but I prefer to eat veggie burgers that haven't been cooked in hamburger grease, thank-you-very-much.

I could go on and on about this forever, but it makes me tickled pink to see restaurants clearly label items that are vegetarian on their menu.  I think the restaurant around town that does this the best is Lopez in Cleveland Heights.  Every vegetarian item is noted with a big old (v) and gluten free items also have a special notation.  This makes ordering simple - no questions, no second guessing...this must be how people with non-restrictive diets do it!

And while I'm talking about Lopez, if you haven't been there since Chef Michael Herschman took the helm, you really need to stop in.  There are plenty of new menu items (like the vegetarian and gluten free eggplant enchiladas pictured right) as well as old favorites.  (I sure hope the butternut squash enchiladas make a reappearance in the fall) Dining at Lopez can be pricey, especially if you like margaritas as much as I do, but if you drop in from 5-7 pm Sunday through Friday, all tequila is half off.  Such a deal!  And if the weather is nice enough, have a seat on the patio.  I really think Lopez has one of the nicest patios in the greater Cleveland area.

What other restaurants do you like to eat at that offer easy to read menus for people with dietary restrictions?

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