Food Friday: The best vegetarian meal I never had

zees grill
Niagara on the Lake, Canada

I must admit having a porky website name makes for some pretty awesome meals. There are so many restaurants in Niagara on the Lake but I knew after a day of tasting ice wine it would be easiest to have dinner at Zee’s Grill at my hotel.

The kitchen offered to do a tasting menu and I was so excited but I had to meekly apologize that Drunkntrvlr was vegetarian and when they responded it was no problem I again apologized, acknowledging the humor of me traveling with someone who did not share my love of bacon.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so apologetic because I was about to learn a very important lesson.

Food envy is the worst feeling. You know when you order a meal but then you try someone else’s dish and wish you had what they were eating. That rarely happens to me, I always order the most interesting dish. But tonight I had a fantastic meal yet was still green with jealousy.

 

Zees Grill

First off I should say is that Executive Chef Jason Dobbie is incredibly talented. I have told many people that I am over pork belly and yet he made an amuse bouche that made me feel sorry for Drunkntrvlr. The next 3 hours I was treated to a warm mushroom and smoked bacon salad, surf and turf of confit wild boar belly, seared scallop and the coveted black garlic, sorbet, crispy duck leg confit and ending with a dark chocolate mouse with brown sugar candied bacon.

 

This was a pork lover’s dream meal.

 

But it wasn’t until I had some of Drunkntrvlr’s meal that I realized just how skilled Chef Jason is. Bacon is magic because it can make things taste better with little effort, but making an amazing vegetarian meal is truly challenging.

 

zees restaurant

I cannot believe I am saying this but the vegetarian meal was better. I had food envy.

He started with a celeriac and apple veloute with black garlic and truffle oil and it was hard not to eat half the dish. Drunkntrvlr marvelled that the Moroccan spiced lentil ragout was the best dish he had ever eaten.

 

zees grill

Afterwards we went back to meet the kitchen, really wonderful people in such a small kitchen I cannot believe they feed the entire restaurant. It also became very clear why Chef Jason was so skilled with vegetarian food, he had worked out in British Colombia so feeding vegetarians wasn’t so unusual.

Maybe I shouldn’t apologize for Drunkntrvlr being vegetarian but be thankful he shared some of his meal with me.

 

 

Disclosure: I paid for my room at Shaw Club but they offered us dinner. They did not request that I write a review or anticipate I would have such meal envy.

Comments

    • Ayngelina says

      I know it’s hard to believe, especially coming from me. Both meals were amazing but I think I was just surprised a bit more by the vegetarian meal.

    • Ayngelina says

      It’s a hit and a miss for me. Some people do great vegetarian food and other times it needs a bit of pork…

    • Ayngelina says

      I think it’s because so few restaurants do vegetarian well. I will often only go meatless if I’m in a vegetarian restaurant or it has a great reputation for vegetarian food.

    • Ayngelina says

      I do eat a lot of veggie meals although none have been as good as this one. Just goes to show vegetarian can be amazing.

    • Ayngelina says

      I could never go completely vegetarian. I have cut way back on meat and only eat it if I think something will be delicious. I knew it would be fantastic here.

  1. says

    It’s a toss up! Both dishes sound incredible! Best thing…when you get to share a little of each…unless of course, that leads to colossal food envy! Needless to say, after having a simple split pea soup chez moi…I am having food envy just looking at your photos!
    Anita Mac recently posted..The Night I Slept In An Ice Hotel

  2. says

    Vegetables have more individual flavor, as opposed to meats, which is why vegetarian dishes are usually more flavorful (I’m not a vegetarian by the way).

    • Ayngelina says

      I think this is a unique situation because he had so much experience on the West Coast where it really is embraced. It is a really valued talent to be able to create a meatless tasting menu that a meat eater envies.

  3. says

    Yeah, at least 50 percent of the time, I order a vegetarian dish even though I eat and love meat, mainly because they often sound so much better (or at least have better sides) than the meat dishes!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..30 on 30

  4. says

    Yum! I love seeing creative vegetarian dishes mostly because my hang-up when it comes to eating less meat is that I feel like the options are limited. Of course, that’s not the case at all, I just need to learn more about veggie recipes and try new things.
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Lunching in luxury at Ruca Malen

    • Ayngelina says

      Maybe after TBEX, but you have to stay overnight. I really loved Shaw Club and it was nice to stumble out of the restaurant and into my room.

    • Ayngelina says

      I have been trying to really minimize that, it’s kind of way Bacon is Magic, you only need a tiny bit to make an entire dish better.

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