Monday, November 8, 2010

Vegetarian View: Black Walnut Cafe

Monthly Feature
Molly gives us a peek at a restaurant through the eyes of a vegetarian.

Overall Vegetarian Selection: (2) Stars
Black Walnut Cafe’s menu is very typical of my standard dining experience. It’s one of those places where the vegetarian selection is not great and I feel like they only threw in a sparse handful of meat free dishes to shut us herbivores up.

I didn’t order an appetizer, but their selection had four vegetarian options out of eight. Not too horrible, but the four items were nothing to turn my head at. They were spinach and artichoke dip, garlic cheese bread, toasted ravioli and chips and salsa with guacamole. Kinda boring.

BWC’s salad selection of 13 items only had two vegetarian options. I mean come on…this is a no brainer where a restaurant can easily win a vegetarian over. I really expected more here. And to add insult to injury their extra salad additions consisted of seven meat/seafood items and no tofu. At this point I am picturing the Twitter fail whale in my mind.

Now onto the “Signature Entrees” portion of BWC’s menu where not one meat free item is listed out of nine entrees. By now I am getting pretty upset at the menu creator but am not surprised in the least, because remember BWC is a standard sample of my dining experience unless I purposely visit a vegetarian friendly restaurant.

No time for ranting, it’s time to visit the pasta selection where again, it is easy for a restaurant to please a vegetarian. Pasta, like lettuce in a salad, is diverse and almost anything can be added to it. Out of 14 items to choose from BWC has a whopping two meat free pastas and one of them is blatantly named “Vegetarian Pasta,” which I will expand more on later.

The “Burgers and Sandwiches” section has 12 items and only one is meat free. That item is…drum roll please….a grilled cheese sandwich. Please keep in mind a grilled cheese sandwich is also on the kids menu here too.

There is a glass display case near the cashier with various gelatos, cannolis and other desserts. Maybe I should have gotten something here to brighten my dining experience at BWC.

BWC also serves breakfast with omelets, eggs benedicts etc. but this vegetarian doesn’t eat eggs by themselves so I won’t even go there.

Ordered Dish: (3) Stars
Since my choices were limited, I was able to quickly pick the Vegetarian Pasta for my lunch. (Thanks for spelling it out to me BWC.) My bowtie pasta dish was priced at $9.50 (a little expensive for lunch I think) and consisted of pesto, extra virgin olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichokes, garlic and shredded parmesan cheese. The meal was decent but nothing memorable. Since Mediterranean is my favorite cuisine I liked the theme of olives, artichokes etc. in the dish. I thought the ingredients and flavors went well together and the pasta was cooked just right for a cold pasta dish. My meal was a little salty because of all the marinated ingredients and pesto always leaves me running for the water fountain.

Healthy Rating: (3) Stars
My pasta meal was pretty healthy but certainly did not help me in my protein grams consumed for the day. I try to keep my protein at 50 grams a day and this dish probably brought me to probably ten. (The cheese was not abundant in the dish.) I will say the meal was low fat, but high in carbohydrates which bothers some people but I happily accept because of my running.

Overall Opinion: (2.5) Stars
Black Walnut Cafe’s décor is really quaint. There are a lot of different sized couches paired with tables to choose from. For the non-couch eaters BWC does have some regular tables. The interior is kind of dark but that adds to the cozy, sofa atmosphere. Plus they have a spacious patio in the front of the restaurant when the Houston weathers plays nice. Too bad BWC’s menu isn’t vegetarian friendly because I really liked their comforting and relaxed décor. The BWC I visited is located in the Village Arcade so parking can be a problem during peak hours. The service was quick and the restaurant seemed pretty clean. I gave BWC an overall score of 2.5 because even though they have a heavenly dessert case and unique dining room set up, I just cannot forgive the lack of vegetarian dishes. (And what they did offer was very boring.)
5510 Morningside Drive
Houston, Texas 77005

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