Sunday, April 18, 2010

Vegetarian's View

This is Molly. She's a long time friend, current member of Dinner Club, and hopefully a regular on this blog. In short...she's our Vegetarian's View. Her first review highlights Beaver's (located in the new restaurant district off Washington Ave. in Houston).

Each category is rated from 1-5 stars.

Overall Vegetarian Selection: (4) Stars

Brief Take: (Did the restaurant have a good selection?)

An upscale ice house most popular for their BBQ, Beaver’s amazingly has several legitimate vegetarian and vegan choices (and I don’t mean grilled cheese from the children’s menu.) Beaver’s changes about a third of their menu quarterly, but vegetarian and some vegan menu items are always present. The meat-free menu sometimes features a vegan vegetable risotto, pumpkin salad, BBQ tofu, nut burger, pinto bean ragu and macaroni and cheese.

Ordered Dish: (5) Stars

Brief Take: (What did you get and how was it?)

Appetizer: I started off with Beaver’s Smoky Queso and it is truly the best queso I’ve ever had. Seriously. It puts every Tex-Mex restaurant queso to shame. Light colored, warm, dense, creamy cheese served with chunky pico and accompanied with toasty homemade, thick, salty chips. If I am ever at Beaver’s with friends without my husband, he always makes me get him a to-go order of the Smoky Queso.

Entrée: For my main dish I had the Beaver Nut Burger with a side of Mac & Cheese. The burger was very hearty, full of brown rice and as the dish’s name indicates – nuts. Served on a fluffy, thick bun the burger is garnished with super ripe tomatoes, red onion, bibb lettuce, pickles and a miso-mustard sauce. The nuts and rice tend to make the burger fall apart so it must be gobbled fast which isn’t a problem since the Beaver Nut Burger is one of my favorite veggie burgers. As a vegetarian, the veggie burger is a common meal for me at a lot of restaurants. Most of the time I am dismayed only to find a grocery store, microwaved soy patty slapped on a limp piece of bread - but not at Beaver’s. I am going to be brave and say I think even meat eaters would like this one. The Mac & Cheese is super gooey and super good. Corkscrew pasta, parmesan, cheddar gratin and cream cheese are baked in a deep soup bowl dish and served hot with bread crumbs sprinkled on top. I get this gourmet side dish every time no matter what my entrée is. I can safely say it’s my favorite macaroni and cheese.

Dessert: Now on to the reason why I really come to Beaver’s…Beaver Balls. Fried brownies drizzled in a peanut butter sauce served with white chocolate ice cream. Who doesn’t like fried brownies? This dessert is so simple yet delicious. I always make sure I save room for Beaver Balls.

Healthy Rating: (2) Stars

Brief Take: (Was it still healthy even though it was vegetarian?)

The Beaver Nut Burger was the only healthy thing about my meal at Beaver’s. It seemed to be low fat and I know it had a lot if fiber. Eating healthy vegetarian food in restaurants can be challenging since so many dishes use extra cheese in place of meat.

Overall Opinion: (5) Stars

Summary: (Quick review of the overall eating experience…what was the restaurant like?)

As a vegetarian I always try to find something on a restaurant’s menu to eat without making a big scene about my personal choice not to eat meat. Sometimes the options are sparing and I find myself ordering from the children’s menu or a small random appetizer. The first time I visited Beaver’s I was apprehensive but pleasantly surprised that a place where BBQ dominated the menu would have quite a few vegetarian and vegan choices.

The atmosphere and servers at Beaver’s are friendly and laid back. The bar always has a large menu of unique cocktails with liquors such as habanero-infused vodka and maple-smoked rye whiskey. The only non vegetarian friendly drink at Beaver’s is the Squealin’ Mary which contains bacon-infused vodka. Like the food menu, the cocktail menu changes every three months. One of my favorite drinks that is now gone, had vodka, lavender, lemon and honey. With such a drink variety I am sure I will find a new cocktail to enjoy without bacon-infused vodka.

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