Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Austin Restaurant Week

I knew this would happen.

A good friend of mine (who knows about the vegan thang) just emailed me exclaiming that next week is Restaurant Week, and we should totally go to dinner and then watch Gossip Girl!!! Hmm... I immediately headed over to the ARW website to check out some of the menus, and sure enough, NOTHING is vegan. Very few things are even vegan-friendly. Okay, I take that back - there's one place that has actual vegan dishes (including a vegan brownie for dessert), but to be honest, I've never heard of the restaurant, and it doesn't sound appetizing or restaurant week-esque.

This is when it's hard. When I feel like I'm the odd one out, and I can't participate. Nevermind the fact that every ARW experience I've had has been tres mediocre (the food is just not that good), I still feel bad for disappointing my friend, not being able to enjoy something we enjoyed once before.

I know what's happening right now. I know she'll see my reply (in which basically reiterated what I said above) and groan and think ugh, when is Carolyn going to get over this, and blah blah blah. It sucks. It sucks to think about that. I care way too much about disappointing people and not being what people expect, especially when it comes to my friends.

But then I think, really? REALLY? It's Austin Restaurant Week, for crying out loud. It's nothing. I actually think the whole thing is ridiculous, especially considering most of these restaurants aren't that expensive to begin with, and you are limited to a very, very limited menu. I mean, it's not New York City. But I digress. The point is: as much as I don't care about AWR, it bums me out that there are some things I just can't do anymore (unless I want to go really, really hungry).


  1. Do these restaurants require that everyone at the table orders the Restaurant Week menu? I have a hard time with RW menus on account of my food allergies etc, but I have been able to go out with friends during RW - I generally skip the RW menu and just get something off the regular menu, even if it's just the hummus appetizer.

  2. hey carolyn...this is slightly off topic..but... i had read Eating Animals a few months back but reading your blog made me want to pick it up again. i was skimming through it when....
    "Every week," he reports, "millions of chickens leaking yellow pus, stained by green faeces, contaminated by harmful bacteria, or marred by lung and heart infections, cancerous tumours or skin conditions are shipped for sale to consumers."
    blech! i barfed in my mouth a little bit. if that isn't enough to stop you dead in your tracks, i don't know what is.
    i know your (our) choice is not always an easy one (especially the vegan route), but just remember you are not missing out on much if this is the kind of food they are offering for RW....foodwise anyways. and i am sure your friend will understand. you guys should have your own FoodWeek and cook at home and try out different vegan recipes??

  3. I second City Girl's suggestion. Lately, the way I have been dealing with restaurants/outings with friends is to eat a little bit beforehand so I'm not absolutely starving and then navigate the menu the best I can. I'm not sure how your RW works, but as City Girl said, maybe you could phone the restaurant and ask if they'd be willing to give you something off the regular menu, even if it's just a plate of grilled veggies. That way, you could still go out, enjoy a drink and a bit of food, and still have the social experience.

  4. Ah yes, the hard part… In all honesty this was the part that made me eat vegetarian vs vegan. You can do it, but it takes work. I find that being the planner helps, as you can scope out the restaurants and offer suggestions that would work for you and everyone else. If someone else plans, you often find yourself eating French fries for dinner! I really like the two ideas thrown out there of eating an appetizer (you can always fill up on cocktails!) or having your own fun night at your house.

    Also I wanted to offer a few suggestions on vegan cooking/blogs, as I know you posted about them at one point… Check out VeganYumYum, Vegalicious and Fat Free Vegan Cooking. Also many vegetarian blogs have a lot of vegan recipes- Try 101cookbooks, Sprouted Kitchen, Kitchenist, Dana Treat, Green Kitchen Stories, Hungry Desi, So Good & Tasty…

    Just keep in check with why you want to do it, and it will make the hard stuff (like passing on a cheese pizza) easier!

  5. I'm not sure how much this will help for this year, but one idea you may want to consider is keeping a list of some of your favorite vegan finds. Suggest that those be put on the menu or that your favorite restaurants participate next year. I'm sure as you expand your local vegan friend circle you'll find other people feel the same way as you. And I'm sure that some of these places just don't know how much business they are losing by not having vegan-friendly choices.

  6. You can do it! Call the restaurant you want to go to and tell them you don't eat dairy, eggs or any sort of meat (you can even say you have an allergy if that makes it easier for you) most restaurants will accommodate you - you may not be able to order off of the restaurant week menu - but they should fix something for you that you can eat and will enjoy!

    Or eat a large snack before you go, have a couple drinks and enjoy the company of your friends.

    I know it can be REALLY tough.