A few weeks ago I wrote about a vegan drink offering at Quills and in the comments somebody nudged me to post about vegan stuff more often. I’ve become more knowledgeable about vegan offerings in Louisville since my beloved made the choice to go vegan about 6 weeks ago. And one of the things I’ve learned is, on the surface, it’s not really that hard to eat vegan. Lots of Louisville restaurants have amazing plant based dishes on their menus. The hard part though is beneath the surface, it lies in what’s beyond the menu description. Were the vegetables cooked in butter (or even chicken broth)? Is there an egg wash on the bread? That kind of stuff.
So for the first Vegan Feature I’m going to direct your attention not to a specific food item at Hillbilly Tea but instead to the fact that they are so helpful by marking which dishes are vegetarian and vegan on their menu (PDF). It really does make it easier on the patron (and the server) to instantly know what food is fair game for them. It, in my opinion, shows that the kitchen and management has a great deal of respect for the dietary restrictions their customers have. In other words it shows that they want to be creative and accommodating so everyone from omnivores to vegans can enjoy a meal at Hillbilly Tea.
I’ve been thinking about that concept a lot since we got back from New Orleans. Before we went people warned us that we’d have a hard time eating down there (I don’t eat pork or shellfish and B is a vegan) since everything is very heavy on the meat and seafood side. Nothing could have been further from the truth though. In New Orleans they just want you to have a good time and enjoy your meal. So unless they’d have to turn the kitchen upside down to make your dish dairy free they were more than happy to do it. Leave off the cheese? No problem. Make a meal out of fruit, potatoes and a muffin? We’ll do it and we’ll make it look pretty. Hash browns instead of bacon or sausage? Yes, ma’am.
Back to Hillbilly Tea, I like that their vegan and vegetarian selections are creative and not boring. I’ve been chided for saying this before but it’s true: a plate of sautéed vegetables is not an interesting vegetarian meal. In New Orleans B had a dish that was a giant heirloom tomato stuffed with red and black Peruvian quinoa with Creole maque choux and finished with pumpkin oil. That’s a creative vegan dish. It’s that kind of creative vegan dish planning that Hillbilly Tea shows as well. White bean and sage fritters? Yes please.