Friday, March 22, 2013

Dinner at Donna's

Donna's is a small chain restaurant in Baltimore that I've always thought of as quite vegetarian friendly.   When a Living Social coupon for it popped up a few months' back, I jumped at the chance to buy it, knowing we'd be more than happy for the night out sometime.  But we never got around to using the coupon until after I'd made my vegan switch, and with the coupon expiring this week, we finally bit the bullet Wednesday night to see what vegan options Donnas would have to offer. 
I was actually very surprised that there didn't seem to be a lot of vegan options on the menu, so I asked the waitress if there was anything they could make vegan or create from the ingredients they had on hand.  Again, I was a bit disappointed because she came back saying they could do risotto with no cheese, a veggie burger with no cheese, no aioli and no bun - um, no - or they could do a pasta with vegetables that was recently on the menu but had been taken off.  I went with the pasta and also split the sauteed greens appetizer with my boyfriend.
The sauteed greens were amazing - I'm definitely going to try to recreate this recipe at home.  It was just greens, chilies, garlic, sesame seeds, and oil - super easy.  The sesame seeds really added something to the dish. 

The pasta was only so-so, but I was very impressed that the manager came over to say they didn't have the packaging on the pasta so they didn't know the ingredients and to ask if I would be okay with that.  I'm a little concerned that the chef doesn't know what goes into making pasta noodles, but was pleased that they were taking genuine care to make the dish vegan.  They basically mixed together a couple kinds of mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, pine nuts, and herbs and tossed with the pasta and some oil.  It was tasty, but not exactly a wow meal.  But it did leave me with enough leftovers for lunch the next day, and anytime I don't have to think about making lunch I'm happy. 
What I definitely learned from this experience eating out was to not be afraid to ask the waiter if there is anything they can do to make items vegan or create something new.  While it might seem like an inconvenience, it's probably something they've been asked before and it might even give the chef an opportunity to be a bit creative and have some fun.  And if it's not something they've been asked before, it's probably still something they'll be asked some day, so maybe I'm even making it easier for the next vegan to stop in. 

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