This isn't to say that eating at Water Grill in Santa Monica (the subject of this week's restaurant review) is impossible for a vegetarian diner, or even that they'd be likely to leave hungry. I dragged my poor vegetarian-leaning kid with me twice to Water Grill, and both times he ate plenty of food. But his options were fairly limited, and he didn't eat anywhere near as well as the rest of us seafood-gobblers.
Basically, you have two options: salads and sides. And consistently, these two areas were some of the most lackluster. An heirloom tomato salad with avocado and watercress sounded promising, but the tomatoes were about a day past their prime and the salad was severely underseasoned. Sides -- mac and cheese, roasted asparagus with gremolata -- were fine, but fairly forgettable.
There are a couple of bright spots, places where the meat-free options get a little more exciting. A roasted beet and feta cheese salad is hardly revolutionary, and kind of not worth its $13 price tag, but it's well executed and tasty. Crispy polenta with melted fontina, and braised kale with Greek yogurt and hazelnuts are the two sides that together made the most interesting vegetarian meal of our visits.
Seafood restaurants represent such a treat for many of us -- but even the most avid lobster lovers have vegetarian loved ones we'd like to eat with. It would be nice if some seafood restaurants recognized this and offered something more than afterthoughts for their meat-free options.
See also: The Undercover Vegetarian Archives