Yesterday was my fifteenth wedding anniversary. All day I had a feeling that I should be posting something about it, but I couldn’t figure out what. Anything really heartfelt and interesting about my relationship with my husband was, frankly, private, which left me with the usual “He’s awesome, we’re perfect for each other” blah blah blah – all true, but boring to read about.
So, instead, I’m going to write about what a complete pain in the ass it is to take me out to a nice place for dinner.
On Tuesday I realized that we hadn’t yet made reservations for our anniversary. Until last year the anniversary dinner was a big deal, involving planning and babysitters and research and dressing up. But for the second year in a row, the kids aren’t here (they’re at camp), and our anniversary falls at the end of several weeks of making pigs of ourselves at some pretty spectacular restaurants. We’ve eaten dinner out slightly fewer times than last summer thanks to the fast diet, but basically any other day we can, our butts are in restaurant chairs.
But as good as the food has been these past few weeks, I felt like our anniversary called for not only great food, but a great atmosphere as well.
I sent out this tweet and posted on Facebook, looking for help.
NYC friends, what's your favorite romantic restaurant? It's for my wedding anniversary. Bonus: vegetarian dishes that don't contain 'shrooms
— SelfishMom (@SelfishMom) August 6, 2013
Yeah. I hate mushrooms. Hate. Don’t want them in anything. I hate the texture and the taste. All of it. And when you’re a vegetarian, trying to eat in a nice restaurant, mushrooms are EVERYWHERE. You can’t get away from them.
I also happen to hate beets. This didn’t used to be a factor at all, but beets are a lot hotter now, so I have another popular vegetarian item to sidestep. I also detest the flavor of alcohol in my food, so a white wine sauce is out. And, I hate fruit in salads. Unless it’s a fruit salad. Which it never is.
And tofu? Eww. Although that one usually only appears in an actual vegetarian restaurant, and I pretty much never go to those. I’m much more likely to find a great meal in a steakhouse (the side dishes! OMG!) than in a vegetarian restaurant.
Oddly enough, the first suggestion was for the first place I had checked that morning: One If By Land, Two If By Sea. Almost seventeen years ago, on the night Omer asked me to marry him, he took me to that restaurant, possibly the most romantic restaurant in NYC. What I remember most from that meal was that my menu didn’t have prices (apparently you can request that kind of menu for your date), and I didn’t realize until he joked about it later that I’d had $24 worth of Diet Cokes.
We’ve gone back there a couple times since, but my meals are never great. The food is just too fancy! Basically, the harder time I have finding something to eat on a menu, the more amazing meal Omer will have. And that always happened at OIBL. Also, their salads are very tall. They scare me.
Next I checked The River Cafe. We’d gone there for another anniversary. Looking at the menu I can’t for the life of me figure out what I ate! The Asparagus soup would have been a winner, but it contained something called spring morel mushroom flan. Two things I don’t like combined! At least the salad looked safe. There was only one vegetarian choice for my main course, and it had mushrooms, of course. Could I get it without mushrooms? No idea. I could’ve called and asked. But I like to just sit down and order off the menu sometimes, you know?
That also applied to my friend Sarah’s suggestion, Colicchio and Sons. But based on the amazing meal I’d had the week before with my friend Rebecca at another Craft restaurant, CraftBar (where everything we had was amazingly delicious and mushroom-free!), I was willing to give it a try. The problem, however, with trying to do this on short notice was that they were, of course, full. So was my friend Marinka’s suggestion, Lupa. But I’m filing those away for a time when I’m more organized.
Finally we ended up with Devra’s suggestion, Il Cortile, in Little Italy. We got an amazing, secluded table by the window. The restaurant was quiet (most of the really great meals we’ve had lately have been in places where we can barely hear each other!). The service was impeccable. My meal was simple and tasty. And my husband’s entree had at least four different kinds of seafood on it, which made him very happy. The fact that they were out of most of their desserts sucked, but I’ll live.
Finding a restaurant for a special meal should not be this much trouble. I’m begging NYC restauranteurs to pretty please, put more vegetarian choices on your menus. I’m not asking for a whole section or half a dozen choices. But would two choices be too difficult? So that if the vegetarian married to a carnivore happens to hate the ingredients in the first choice, she has another?
Vegetarian dates, friends, and spouses everywhere will thank you!
Picture of mushrooms used with permission under Creative Commons Attribution License. To see more images from Red Junasun, please visit his page on flickr.
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