Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dinner at Red Lentil

I've been dying to go to Red Lentil for a while. It's one of the most popular vegetarian restaurants in the Boston area and has been personally recommended to me by a handful of people, so when James and I were looking for somewhere to take his mom for dinner on Sunday, I couldn't help but suggest it. 


We started with an order of the Grande Nachos 
Organic corn tortilla chips, topped with refried black beans and jalapeno jack cheese, baked and topped with fresh Pico de Gallo, house made sour cream, fresh guacamole and sliced jalapenos.  $9.00 (substitute vegan cheese for $2.00)
Grande Nachos
The nachos were great, although a few chips were a tad overcooked. They were layered perfectly and most of the chips had enough toppings to go around. They weren't greasy or stale (unfortunately, those characteristics are true of many restaurant nachos, right?)

Feeling a bit ambitious, we also ordered a side of the Belgian Sweet Potato Fries as an appetizer. They were delicious, but I didn't want to fill up before dinner, so I only had a few. They were served with a tangy BBQ sauce. I'm always trying to figure out what the best dipping sauce is for sweet potato fries. Honey Mustard? Whipped butter with maple brown sugar? Some kind of yogurt or sour cream herbed dip? I'm determined to come up with the perfect recipe, but sadly, this BBQ sauce wasn't the magic sauce to end the search. It's OK, though. I'm happy to keep looking! (suggestions welcome!)  :-)

Belgian Sweet Potato Fries


For my entree, I ordered the Butternut Squash Polenta. 
Grilled polenta, oyster mushroom ragout, warmed sesame asparagus drizzled with cilantro sunflower seed pesto.  $13.99

Butternut Squash Polenta
I really enjoyed this dish, despite the fact that the other flavors in the ragout overpowered whatever butternut squash might have been present. There was no way I could finish it after the nachos and a few bites everyone else's meals, so I packed about 1/2 of it up for lunch this week. 


James ordered the Mexican Pizza.
Black bean, mango, red onion, fresh avocado, corn, mozzarella and queso fresco topped with fresh cilantro.  $12.00 (substitute gluten-free crust for $3.00. Substitute vegan cheese for $2.00)

Mexican Pizza on Gluten Free Crust sans Cilantro
I really wanted to try it and have been cutting back on wheat, so he was kind enough to order the gluten-free crust. It was really good and I really liked the texture of the dough and crust. 

His mom, a meat-eater, ordered the Shepherd's Pie and LOVED it. 
Layered mashed yukon gold potatos and sweet potato, soy sausage, corn kernel, onion, seasonal vegetables, spinach, baked and served with vegan cashew gravy and maple balsamic. Drizzled with cilantro sunflower pesto. $16.00

Shepherd's Pie
She couldn't finish the large portion either, but she was so excited about the leftovers that she couldn't stop talking about having them for dinner on Monday night after the long trip back to Long Island. 

I felt compelled to try dessert since I knew I'd be writing a blog post (and since they had a gluten free cake on the menu), so we tried the Vanilla Raspberry/Blueberry cake. The berries were fresh and the cake was rich. 

Vanilla Raspberry/Blueberry Cake (Gluten Free) 
When the waitress saw me snap pictures of our plates, she asked if I was a food critic (I wish!). I told her I wrote a food blog and she (and the rest of the staff) were really excited to hear all about it. The manager, a super-friendly gal named Liz who is also a blogger at Vegan Food Rocks, came over and we talked a few times throughout the meal. She let me grill her on the sourcing of the ingredients and while I was a little disappointed to hear that they don't seem to source directly from local farms, they are very conscious about supporting local businesses and sourcing sustainable and organic produce. 

Overall, the service was fantastic and the food was delicious. It was a bit more indulgent than I typically eat, but I'd certainly recommend Red Lentil and will be back

Red Lentil Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant

If I could give Red Lentil any advice, it would be to fill the window boxes with fresh herbs instead of flowers. Rosemary, thyme, and sage are all attractive and hardy herbs and would add a really nice touch on the way in to the restaurant. In addition to the visual appeal of the fresh herbs, the restaurant would probably save money on sourcing fresh herbs and get better quality ingredients from their windowsill than they could from a distributor, grocer, or even a local farm. I'd also suggest more seasonal variety in the menu and ditching ingredients like tofutti vegan cream cheese. Sure, it's vegan and tastes just like cream cheese, but that doesn't make it healthy or sustainable. Last time I checked, it was chock full of ingredients I don't let in my kitchen. That said, nobody's perfect and Red Lentil is a great place to bring omnivores who are opposed to eating a diet of straight vegetables and beans. 


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Whole New Mom's Traditional Tuesday
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Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday
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