Restaurants list expanded

I have been working on improving the Restaurants and Travel tab at the top of this page.

I’ve added restaurants I enjoy, both in cities I’ve been to and chain restaurants that are very accommodating to vegetarians and people with food-restrictive diets. There are also a few websites at the bottom that I use while traveling.

Please take a look, let me know what you think or if any link is broken, and what you might add or subtract. Either click on the tab at the top or click here to go directly to the Restaurants and Travel page.

Enjoy!

Vegetarian at Le Cellier Steakhouse

Stop me if you have heard this one: A vegetarian walks into a steakhouse and thinks, “What have I done?!?”

Except that wasn’t the setup to a joke, that was me Wednesday as I walked into Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion.

Since purchasing my Disney pass, I’ve started to follow Disney food blogs and pay attention to what people are saying. Already a fan of Epcot and after a great dining experience at Teppan Edo in Epcot’s Japan, I got braver and suggested to Bill we try Le Cellier. It seems to be one of the highest-rated and hardest-to-get-into restaurants in all Walt Disney World. I had the confidence that even a steakhouse could accommodate a vegetarian, so I looked at the menu, was pleased and booked a reservation. For the day we wanted (two months out) there was one seating time for dinner.Yeowza!

Ten days before our reservation I called the Disney dining hotline to confirm there would be something for me, and was assured there would be, but they noted it on my reservation. When I walked up to the host stand, the woman confirmed that one person in our party is vegetarian, telling me they have great vegetarian food. I was excited.

Then I walked inside and it hit me, “I’m a vegetarian and am about to sit in a steakhouse for an hour or so.” (Although I am a vegetarian, my husband and family are not, so I’ve been around meat-eaters my entire life. Although I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons and would love to help anyone become a vegetarian, I understand it is a very personal choice and I’m not going to judge those who eat meat.)

As we walked in, the host took us by the dessert table. The selections looked great, but we aren’t dessert people. We walked into the small dining room (which explains why it’s hard to get reservations) and sat at our table. Le Cellier is French for the cellar, and the dining room does look like a wine cellar.

Our server arrived and went over the entire menu with me and said if I wanted to, she could bring out the chef to talk about off-the-menu options. I said no thank you, the main dish option sounds delicious, and I went with it. A vegan dish, I had a quinoa and potato cake with royal trumpet mushrooms, baby beets and wilted ramps. I’m not sure if it was all in olive oil or what spices were in it, but it was so flavorful and cooked perfectly. And I think the vegetarian option changes with the seasons, which is always a good sign meaning the chef is picking the freshest ingredients and wants to try new things.

Quinoa and potato cake with royal trumpet mushrooms, baby beets and wilted ramps.

Before the meal, we ordered a whisky flight and a beer flight. The whisky flight included Crown Royal (harsh), Pendleton (smooth) and Forty Creek (bold). The beer flight was a selection of three Unibroue beers: Éphémère Apple (nice, light apple flavor), Blanche de Chambly (wheat) and Trois Pistoles (light tasting for a dark beer with a nice carbonation to follow). Each beer sample was 4 ounces, I would guess, a good amount for both of us to get a sample and see what we think.

Whisky flight and beer flight

Along with our drinks, our server brought us a selection of rolls: pretzel(!), sourdough and multigrain. And when we were getting low on bread, Linda (the manager, I believe) asked if we wanted more (yes!) and how we liked out drinks. She mentioned they just added the beer flight around Christmas and it was so popular they kept it. They also have samples of ice wine (a dessert wine) and martinis. We wanted a full drink each after, but between dinner and eating and drinking elsewhere around Disney that day, it was just too much awesomeness and we were full!

All in all, as a vegetarian I felt very comfortable and the staff was helpful and knowledgeable. This really was a great experience and we had a great time eating here. I would believe the hype that it is worth the wait to get in and eat here. And being vegetarian didn’t make me feel as if I was missing out on any of the experience or getting short-changed at a steakhouse.

Have you been to Le Cellier or another table service restaurant at Disney? What did you think?

The Meatball Shop vegetarian meatballs

Homemade vegetarian meatballs with some toasted bread and suateed kale, mushrooms and leeks, covered with tomato sauce.

A year ago I was lucky enough while in Manhattan to try the restaurant The Meatball Shop. A hesitant but hungry Val was assured they serve vegetarian meatballs, but I had no idea what I was in for.

We were seated at a long table running the length of the restaurant. Handed a laminated menu and dry erase marker, we marked what we wanted and the server took the menus and our order. You pick the type of meatball you want; how you want it prepared; if it should be on a bun, salad, with sides, etc.; and any extras you want. Love the simplicity of the mix-and-match order. Great food, great friends, great atmosphere, it was a very memorable experience.

Since I couldn’t stop thinking about this meal, I did a search online to see if anyone had recreated a similar recipe. I didn’t find a similar recipe, I found the exact recipe and others from the restaurant kindly given to Martha Stewart Living Radio by the executive chef (Sauces, meats and vegetarian meatballs can be found here.)!

I set out to make the vegetarian meatballs at home. It is a little time-intensive, but totally worth the effort. The recipe makes 24 balls, but could be halved if that seems like a lot, and could be done in steps to spread the workload. I froze some of the balls and think they should be fine. I’ll take a few out, pop them in the toaster oven and the balls should be as good as new. Each serving is about three or four balls, maybe more if you are hungry.

Ready to eat! Smell great.

Vegetarian Meatballs

Makes 24 golf ball-sized balls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 sprigs thyme, picked (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Combine the lentils with two quarts of water in a medium-sized stock pot and bring to a boil over high. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft but not falling apart, about 25 minutes. Strain the lentils through a colander and allow to cool.
  3. Sautee the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, thyme and salt with 1/4-cup of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, stirring frequently (about ten minutes). When the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly for three minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking, stirring frequently for fifteen more minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and allow to cool.
  4. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl with the cooled vegetables and lentils and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil into a 9 by 12 baking dish, making sure to evenly coat the entire surface (use your hand to help spread the oil).
  6. Place the mixture in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely, about 25 minutes. Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-sized meatballs making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls into the oiled baking dish, such that all the meatballs are lined up evenly in rows and are touching each of their four neighbors in a grid.
  7. Roast until firm and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Allow the meatballs to cool for five minutes before removing.

Have you had meals at restaurants you can’t stop thinking about?