Friday, April 8, 2011

A Ravenous Dinner at Red Lentil Restaurant

Last night, I ventured to one of my new favorite vegetarian restaurants, Red Lentil in Watertown, MA.  The small restaurant was super crowded and the wait was about thirty minutes, which is fairly long for a vegetarian/vegan restaurant.  My stomach growled impatiently as I scanned over the eclectic menu which had everything from Mexican to Italian to Indian offerings and ranged from a healthy Macrobiotic style to greasy comfort food. Most of the dishes are vegan but pretty much everything on the menu can be altered to be vegan, although usually with an extra charge. As we finally sat down at our table, we quickly placed our order and anxiously waited for our food to arrive. When it did come, I delved in, having one of the best culinary experiences I've had in a while.

We began with Red Lentil's specialty appetizer, the gobi manchurian ($8): Cauliflower tossed with Indian seasonings, breaded with chickpea flour, fried, and finished with sweet and spicy tomato sauce and fresh cilantro.

This appetizer dish was so delicious. The cauliflowers were deep fried and delicately glazed in a sweet and sour sauce alongside well-seasoned, sauteed bell peppers and onions. The vegetables were soft to contrast the crispy chickpea batter coating the cauliflowers. The sauce was so scrumptious I found myself trying to sop up any last bit with the remaining vegetables. 

We also got some chips and salsa as a starter ($3). 

These were pretty standard. The chips had a great crunch to them and were freshly made. The salsa also had a moderate spice and was very tasty.

Next, our entrees came. My dad ordered a sweet potato quesadilla that was vegetarian, but could easily be made vegan by substituting the real cheese for daiya. I ordered the Shepherd's Pie ($16): 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. My mom ordered the Nirvana Delight ($14): An Ayurveda inspired meal, balanced with nutrition, flavor, texture, color and variety- Grilled Tandoori marinated tofu served with cold quinoa salad and spinach, topped with beet relish and cucumber yoghurt sauce.  

The Shephard's Pie was so amazing, although never having had the real version, I'm not sure how it would compare. The chefs at Red Lentil are so innovative in the creation of their dishes and combine ingredients I would never think would go together. Nevertheless, everything worked so well and there were so many different flavors and textures happening in just one dish.

The pie contained many layers, from the slightly bitter yukon potatoes to the smooth, delectable sweet potatoes to the chewy, savory pieces of seitan.  Although mostly composed of vegetables, the pie had such a meaty flavor to it that was sharply contrasted by the creamy, luscious sauces and sweet maple drizzles. The dish was somewhere between a hearty, flavorful entree and a decadent dessert. 

My mom let me try some of her Nirvana Delight, which was also very tasty. 

The quinoa salad was very crisp and the beets added a light and natural sweetener. The tofu was fried and glossed with a thin, sweet marinade and the inside was soft and delicate.  The cucumber yogurt on top was creamy with a slight tanginess and notes of dill. The wilted spinach added an extra layer of texture and healthiness. 

Finally, we had to end the meal with something sweet and Red Lentil's desserts are all vegan and delicious. There were about six choices of cakes, and we settled on the chocolate mousse pie ($5).

The mousse was so rich and chocolatey and the inside was even more creamy. The raspberry syrup drizzles added an extra sweetness that further complimented the pie. The crust was also very crisp and decadent. This dessert was just so amazing. It reminds me of the heavily whipped chocolate mousse I used to love as a kid.

Furthermore, Red Lentil is fairly expensive, although well worth it. They do have discounts available, however. The discount we used last night was a student discount, in which I received 15% off by revealing my student ID.  They also have a discount at lunchtime of buy one entree, get another half off. I would recommend going to this restaurant, regardless, as the food is some of the most innovative vegan food I've ever had.  They also get extra points for the beautiful presentation of food on each plate. The chefs truly demonstrate a mastery of creating high quality food and displaying them as exquisite works of art. 

No comments:

Post a Comment