Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Terrible Time At Le Tre

After watching one of the most amazing ballets I've seen in a while, I felt energized and uplifted. I didn't think anything could bring me down. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. My search for vegan-friendly restaurants had been a little difficult, since not many places exist near where my grandma lives. She didn't want to drive far, which added an extra challenge. I relied mostly on Happy Cow, as this site has proven to be helpful in the past. Thus, I found a restaurant not too far from the ballet, called Le Tre, a Vietnamese restaurant which was described by reviewers as being very accommodating to vegans. They even had a vegan menu!

This post is going a bit off course from my intent for this blog, as there is no deal involved. Nevertheless, I found it was necessary to post about my experience at this restaurant, as I want to warn others of a restaurant that is so ridiculously overpriced and totally not worth it. 

When we first arrived, the restaurant only had a few patrons. I attributed this to the fact that it was still a little early for dinner, plus Asian restaurants never seem very crowded. We waited a few moments before a woman finally came over, directed us to an empty table and handed us some menus. After scanning over the menu, I noticed that the vegetarian section was a mere two pages, with only about five choices of entrees and no specification of any of them being vegan. The prices for the entrees were about 18 or 19 dollars. I looked over to my grandma and asked quietly if she wanted to leave. She shook her head. I could tell she didn't want to have to deal with the embarrassment of standing up to leave, not to mention the stress of finding another place at which to eat. 

The waitress/owner came over and I inquired which of the dishes were vegan. She had a puzzled look on her face and didn't seem to understand English very well. Her husband came over and I repeated my question to him. He told me all were vegan except the egg roll appetizers. After scanning over the menu again, I waved over the woman and proceeded to place my order. She did not understand a word I said and even pointing to the menu items on the page proved futile. I tried to keep my cool as she kept saying "egg roll" and "shrimp soup" and wondered what business this woman had of owning a restaurant when she clearly did not know anything about food. I could feel my stomach knotting, worried that we would be served meat. 

First, our soups came out. I ordered a hot and sour tofu soup, but the soup that came out resembled a vegetable soup. I was glad this was probably vegan, although not what I wanted. 

I liked that it was loaded with vegetables and soft chunks of tofu and the broth was quite tasty. Nevertheless, it lacked the spiciness and tanginess I love in my hot and sour soup. It was also a bit overpriced at $6 and the bowl was not very big.

Next, we had some vegetarian rolls which were filled with vermicelli noodles, mint, carrots and sweet potatoes.

The sweet potato filling was a nice twist on the traditional Asian appetizer. It was more sweet and luscious than I expected and the highlight of the meal. The contents inside were nice and soft and lightly spiced. The bean sauce that accompanied the dish was even better. It was slightly sweet and tart and so scrumptious. The ground peanuts on top also added a great crunch to the rolls. As delicious as this was, however, the cost of $8 wasn't quite justified.

Lastly, our entree came out. I first tried to order the caramelized tofu which sounded so good, but the owner told me they were all out. Thus, I settled for the tofu with lemongrass, which was pretty mediocre.

The sauce was pretty good and had a very slight sweetness to it and was lightly spiced. The tofu was too soft and crumbly and the vegetables didn't seem to be cooked very well. I was also upset that the portion was so small and not very filling and cost a whopping $18.

When the check came out, my grandma asked me what 15% of the bill was. I stared at her in confusion. Was she actually planning on leaving a tip? The owners were so rude to us and they completely ripped us off. The customers sitting at other tables, who seemed like regulars, had bigger portions than we did and the owners were actually polite to them. I managed to convince my grandma not to leave a tip, since they were already getting so much of our money. If anything, we should leave a negative tip. Thus, we left the restaurant paying about $40 for a meal that was so not worth it. I definitely will not be back, even if they do offer a deal. 

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