Sunday, January 3, 2010

Weekend Adventure 1: Vegetarian Restaurant

For my first weekend adventure, I wanted to buy all the weird produce I could find at the Dupont Farmer's Market and then "cook it." That I expected to find locally-grown jicama, starfruit, and kumquats at a farmer's market in January shows you how much I have to learn.

Instead I found:

BORING OLD APPLES.

and

MISERABLE FROZEN PATRONS.

I debated going to Safeway, but in a last-minute burst of bravery I decided to do something totally wild that I'd been meaning to work up to slowly:

Seedy-looking roadside restaurants are my Kryptonite. You can find some of the best food and weirdest company at them, or sometimes the worst food imaginable and waitstaff straight out of the movie "Deliverance"--you just never know. It's like Community Chest in Monopoly - only with pie at the end!

"Vegetarian Restaurant" on Route 7, one such place, has always intrigued me on my drives to Trader Joe's. Housed in the angry-looking shell of what once was a Pizza Hut, it always looks dark, with only one or two cars in the parking lot. As you pass by, you think to yourself--what? Why is it just called "Vegetarian Restaurant?" How could it endure on a strip completely dominated by Central American chicken joints?

I did a little research. Turns out it's actually called Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant--hence the big flower. It's the second of two SVR locations, and it only really looked dark because I was driving by the back entrance.

I heard wildly polarized reviews, which only racheted up my curiosity. On the one hand we had Tom Sietsema of the Post calling its sister location in Vienna "a trim vegetarian oasis...as cheerful as its name suggests"; on the other we had the look on my friend Julia's face when I mentioned I wanted to go. "Oh, God," she said. "Oh, God, oh God, get the avocado cheesecake, you'll see, it's just...it's just..." She shuddered.

I finally went tonight. And:

It's not dark and sinster inside. It's a different kind of creepy: Sunflower Baby Donald Duck Creepy.


There are smiling sunflower tchotchkes everywhere--everywhere--and although they're all very cuddly and sweet...um. If you looked up and met the eyes of thirty happy sunflowers, all staring at you, would you feel comfortable?

That said:

The staff is kind, attentive, and patient. They ignored Matt's and my giggling, took our order, had it out in 8 minutes, ignored Matt turning green and me snapping pictures, refilled our drinks, brought out dessert, didn't make any noise about the amount of food we left on the plate, and thanked us as I snapped more pictures on the way out. We were more than a little obnoxious, but they were great.

THAT said:

This dish is called "Adventure of Tempeh Land":


And this happy little fellow is cold, wet, wobbly avocado-lemon pie:

Ick. Matt "Men Eat Meat" Latimer's original plan was to go to Wendy's if things didn't work out, but on the way out he shook his head said "I have lost all interest in food." He eventually regrouped when he saw the shrimp cocktail in my freezer.

Maybe we carnivores just don't get it, but as someone who eats at least 3 veggie burgers a week, I'd like to think I have some street cred with meat substitutes. Maybe Tempeh Land is just not the place to go here, and Tofu Land is way better. I'll never know. There are just too many other creepy restaurants on Route 7 calling my name. Onward!

1 comment:

  1. Lol, Sunflower Satisfaction is where it's at. While I love the restaurant, I learned early that the desserts were ... to be avoided.

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