Furthering along our week-long quest to dine out at only vegetarian/vegan/raw food restaurants, we couldn’t miss one of Sarasota’s most popular: Veg – A Vegetarian and Seafood Eatery. Wait. . .seafood? That’s right in my wheelhouse!
Veg has been around about four years, and is often the first vegetarian restaurant suggested whenever we asked for recommendations for the tastiest local vegetarian restaurant. “My biggest complaint about Veg,” a colleague explained, “is if you don’t get there early, you won’t get a table. There’s only 28 or 30 seats available.” A line out the door? Now that’s a nice problem to have!
And that’s probably a common occurrence at organic food restaurants. When none of your ingredients have preservatives, you can’t carry a lot of inventory. . . so smaller and busy with happy customers is the only way to succeed in the organic restaurant culture. Food sourcing, we learned, has traditionally been the biggest challenge organic based restaurants have!
Mart and I had no issues scoring a seat at our last visit to Veg. (Probably because we showed up after the standard dinner hour; having had a particularly long day at work.) Sitting down at a window seat, we were quickly served cool, lemon infused water to rehydrate us while we perused the menu. Veg’s menu is broken down into lunch and dinner, as well as vegan, gluten-free and raw foods. That sure takes the guessing out of the selection process!
First off, I order a crisp, organic Pinot Grigio. I never considered if the wine I ordered over the years was organic or not, and I wondered if there’d be a difference in taste. While I didn’t pick up on any dramatic shifts in flavor profile, the Tiamo Organic Pinot Grigio was exactly what I wanted, the refreshing “unplug and unwind” taste I want from a glass of wine. Mart followed my lead with a glass of Veg’s home-made white peach mango Sangria, which had a sweet, fruity note to it.
Whenever I get an opportunity to try gluten-free bread, I jump on the chance. My mom has had celiac disease for over 40 years, and has rarely found a gluten-free bread with the light, airy texture of the sandwiches and rolls she enjoyed in her youth. Gluten is the protein composite found in wheat, barley and rye that give elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and chewy texture. Without gluten, most breads I’ve had tried tend to be heavy, more like a dense pound cake than a slice of bread. So I was really happy with the gluten-free bread at Veg! With a wonderful, light, nutty flavor and pliable crust, I’m confident you could order a sandwich with their bread and never know the gluten was gone!
For his main course, Mart wanted to stick with purely vegetarian, opting for a Veg favorite; the Portobello Volcano. Featuring a Portobello mushroom over garlic mashed potatoes on a bed of sautéed spinach and quinoa, the Volcano is topped with over-the-moon yummy caramelized onions and serves with seasonal vegetables. Veg features local produce whenever possible, offering the freshest, most nutritious array of vegetables possible. Did I mention that they are beautiful as well! What a showpiece!
Knowing there weren’t any meats or poultry on the premises, I decide to take advantage of the pescatarian alternative – ordering the Pistachio-Encrusted Dijon Barramundi, one of Veg’s wild-caught seafood options from an Australian distributor. I’d never tried barramundi before, and looked forward to taste and flavor. When my plate was set in front of me, the plating was so spot-on perfect, I had to take a moment to just enjoy the presentation! The taste, my friends, was EVEN BETTER! The pistachio crust was crunchy and the barramundi was a delicious flaky white fish, not unlike striped bass, red snapper, grouper, and other premium white fish. It’s also known as “sustainable sea bass” or “Asian sea bass.” That’s good to know, because barramundi is now a top tier choice the next time I’m ordering fish for dinner. I loved it!
All in all, Veg deserves all the accolades and satisfied customers they have earned over the years. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending Veg to anyone . . . they are true to their promise in serving healthy, low-salt, delicious food! What more could you ask?