Sunday, September 18, 2011

Veg Options at Silver Diner and Seasons 52

Wanted to provide a review of the veg options at two Maryland restaurants I've been to recently: Silver Diner and Seasons 52.

Mango Vegetarian Stir-Fry at Silver Diner
Silver Diner is a local chain - the restaurants look like a traditional diner, but the menu veers into more upper scale casual restaurant territory.  They're mostly in Maryland, but you can also find one in my hometown of Cherry Hill, NJ.  Recently, Silver Diner went through a menu makeover to incorporate local foods and healthier options, and the menu incorporates a ton of fresh produce and healthy preparations.

Vegetarians have a lot of choices at Silver Diner, and vegans will also have a few options.  If you eat eggs, there are any number of omelets and scrambles available, as well as a number of lacto-ovo friendly breakfast foods that can be ordered all day.  There are also a number of good looking salads, a veggie chili and a veggie quesadilla.

For my dinner, I had the Mango Vegetarian Stir Fry, which normally comes with mushrooms, carrots, mixed peppers, edamame beans, cilantro, napa cabbage, reduced sodium teriyaki, scallions, black sesame seeds, and whole wheat angel hair.  Because of the soy allergy, I asked the waiter if the dish could be made without edamame and the teriyaki, and he immediately said it could, and noted my soy allergy for the kitchen.  This is a great sign - it means the dishes are made to order and that the kitchen is conscious of food allergy issues.

The stir-fry was very good - the pasta was cooked exceptionally well and had good flavor and texture, and whatever the veggies were sauteed in made everything moist enough so that I didn't miss a sauce.  All of the produce was fresh.

Silver Diner does a nice job of highlighting "heart healthy" items that are lower in fat & cholesterol, as well as gluten free items, which are denoted by a (GF) on the menu.  I do wish they also had an easy symbol for veg items.  Some of the menu items have "Vegetarian" in the title, but a green "V" would go a long way in helping make the menu more easily scanable for veg eaters.

Last night, we went to Seasons 52 on Rockville Pike.  This was my third trip there, and husband's first.  For those of you not familiar with Seasons 52, all of the menu items are under 475 calories.  The menu changes four times a year - winter, spring, summer and fall.  There are 22 locations around the country, including the Maryland one and a new location in Tyson's Corner, VA.  There's also one in Cherry Hill that's been open quite awhile.

This is the last week of the summer menu, and I was able to find a number of veg friendly options.  I am a big fan of Seasons 52's flatbreads - there are normally a few veg friendly options, and you can also ask for the meat ones to be made veg.  Last night, we had the tomato one, which was very good.  I then had an avocado, tomato and argula salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.  The salad came with some grilled bread, whic had a delightfully smoky flavor and a texture that was both crispy and chewy.  For my entree, I got what I always get - the farmer's vegetable plate.  The staff is always happy to make it for me without tofu and give me extra veggies.  Since the plate changes seasonally, it's a different experience every time I go.  Last night's plate had carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, golden beets, grilled onions and caramelized red peppers.  It also always comes with this tabouleh I'm slightly obsessed with and must try and re-create: slivered almonds, cranberries and lots of parsley.

Seasons 52 is very friendly to vegetarians and those with food allergies - the servers and kitchen staff are all very knowledgeable about the menu, and the kitchen is set up so that substitutions can easily be made to any dish.

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