Review: Vegetarian in Maple Grove
The reasons for eliminating meat in the diet can be many, from health-related to environmental. But the options when dining out, if you stumble upon the wrong kind of place, can be painfully limited. Vegetarian food should be more than just subtracting the meat from a pasta dish or ordering the salad. Therefore, we set out on a quest to find the best choices for vegetarians, dishes that are so balanced, full of flavor and satisfying that even a carnivore might be tempted to go vegetarian – if only for a day.
Cashew Stir Fry
There’s no better way to discover your best meatless choices than asking a fellow vegetarian. Janelle McQuiston, a manager at Sawatdee who is a vegetarian herself, offers excellent suggestions. One of her favorites, the cashew stir-fry, is a delicious mix of roasted cashews, onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts and green onions. She likes the extra protein added by the cashews and recommends adding mock duck or tofu to this dish as a nice complement to the dark sauce. Hands down, McQuiston says the most popular vegetarian dish here is the pad Thai, made with stir-fried rice noodles, onion, bean sprouts, peanuts and added tofu fried in vegetable oil (ask the server to hold the egg if you don’t eat them). The famous Suepenn’s fresh spring rolls, ordered vegetarian, are a delightful start to the meal. McQuiston says close to 50 dishes can be ordered vegetarian here, with no animal byproducts, suitable even for the vegan diet. Entrees run from $11-$15. 7885 Main St. N.; 763.494.5708; sawatdee.com
Indian restaurants are a gold mine for vegetarians, since traditionally, the cuisine makes limited use of meat, with heavy emphasis on plant-based ingredients like spinach, eggplant, peas, potatoes and chickpeas. Guru Sansda, the owner and chef of Bollywood Bistro, says there are at least six types of vegetarian entrees plus appetizer options offered daily on the buffet ($7.99 weekdays, $9.95 weekends), which is served exclusively at lunch and in addition to an a la carte menu at dinner. Some of the favorites include damadum pakora ($2.99), a mixed vegetable filled fritter served with homemade mint and tamarind sauce, chana masala ($6.99), a dish of chickpeas cooked with tomato, onion, ginger and fenugreek, and aloo gobi ($6.99), a dish of cauliflower and potato, tossed in spices and fried. Bollywood Bistro opened in the former Kabobs space, where Sansda used to work as a chef, about six months ago. 8085 Wedgewood Ln.; 763.494.6925; bollywoodbistromn.com
The menu at Noodles is so highly customizable that it’s hardly a struggle for vegetarians to find something they’ll love, whether they’re craving something healthy or indulgent, spicy or comforting. The Bangkok curry, a sweet mild curry dish made with rice noodles and an assortment of vegetables like red pepper, carrots, broccoli and mushrooms is served on a bed of cabbage with black sesame. Top it with tofu as your protein choice, pan sautéed with a firm texture and a bit of caramelization on the outside, making this combination a popular choice even for non-vegetarians. From the American menu, the truffle mac and cheese was offered as a limited time feature over the winter, but was so popular that it’s been added to the menu permanently. The dish is made with portabella mushrooms and a cheese sauce infused with just a touch of truffle oil, topped with house made breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. You may not have realized it, but Noodles serves sandwiches too, and the veggie Med sandwich, made with a Mediterranean sauce, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, onion and feta in a Mediterranean dressing, is a nice, hearty option for vegetarians. Nutritional information is available on the website for special diets and the company sources local produce when in season. 7840 Main St.; 763.416.1404; noodles.com
Solos Pizza Café
The Masterpizza at Solos Pizza Café offers a touch of rich, creamy flavor for meatless diets, starting with a creamy white garlic sauce, topped with freshly grated whole milk mozzarella, freshly chopped baby spinach, asiago cheese and marinated artichoke hearts. For lighter, tangier flavors, try the Margo, topped with marinara sauce, roma tomatoes, fresh garlic and ribbons of fresh basil. Specialty pizzas are $6.25 for a small or $7.75 for a regular. The taste of the garden pasta bowl ($5.95) is another vegetarian choice, baked in a bread bowl with white garlic sauce, spinach, tomato, artichoke and onion. President Brian Banick also released a macaroni and cheese pizza in May that is topped with tender elbow macaroni in a Monterey cheese sauce topped with cheddar. 13356 Bass Lake Rd.; 763.551.9999; solospizza.com
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