Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Parties at Non-vegan Restaurants

'Tis the season for holiday parties -- office parties, family parties, get-togethers with friends -- and you may not always have a say as to which restaurant is chosen as the location for these gatherings.  Today, I'm writing about two restaurants that are favorite holiday party venues and letting you know what you can do if you end up eating a holiday meal at one of these restaurants.

Buca di Beppo

Considering that this is an Italian restaurant, I'm always surprised at how few choices there are for vegans on the Buca di Beppo menu.  Almost every dish includes meat, cheese, or fish.  Fortunately, there are three menu items that save me every time:  spaghetti marinara, green beans, and Chianti. 

As you may know, portions at Buca di Beppo could feed a small army for a week, so I always order the spaghetti marinara side dish, which is just about the right size for one meal for one person.  But what I really love is the green bean side dish.  The beans are always sautéed in olive oil and lemon juice to just the right level of crispy perfection.  You can order either the small size or the large size, so figure out ahead of time how many of your fellow diners you're going to have to share your green beans with.

Buca di Beppo also offers a mixed green salad that's vegan, as well as a few items that could probably be made vegan:  bruschetta, without the cheese; apple Gorgonzola salad, without the Gorgonzola; the Margherita or veggie pizza, without the cheese; and the Italian broccoli Romano, without the Parmesan.

The website address for Buca di Beppo is

Ruth's Chris Steak House

It's fairly easy to be a vegan at some of the big steak houses because everything on the menu is usually served à la carte.  What I've learned when dining at one of these restaurants, however, is to pack a small container of vegan margarine in my purse so I've got something to put on whatever vegetables I order.

At Ruth's Chris, the vegetarian option is the Personalized Potato & Vegetable Selection, which allows you to choose three items from the side dish section of their menu.  Since most of the potato dishes include either cheese or butter, or have been fried in oil that was probably also used to fry non-vegan items, I always choose the baked potato.  This is where my hidden container of Earth Balance margarine comes in handy.  The other two items I usually order are the sautéed mushrooms, which I ask to have sautéed in olive oil instead of butter, and the fresh asparagus (hold the hollandaise).  Other vegetable options include the broiled tomatoes, the baby spinach, if sautéed in olive oil instead of butter, and steamed broccoli without the cheese sauce. 

I generally order the fresh seasonal berries for dessert, without the sweet cream sauce, but they also have sorbet on their dessert menu.  Add a glass or two of wine, and this is a pretty good holiday meal.

The website address for Ruth's Chris Steak House is

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