So, darlings, you may know that my older sister, Kerry Boo Ridge, is in town for the holidays. What you probably don’t know is that she is a vegetarian. I know, I know, the family and I are appalled and racked with guilt and shame. But considering the antics of her overly glittered and opinionated, bra-padded little brother, a diet of carrots and lentils and a closet full of leather less shoes are probably the least of our family’s problems! Anyway petals, last Friday night we did the vegetarian equivalent of what normal people call “Dinner and a Movie” and let me tell you, it was just an unapologetic hippiefest if ever there was one. We ate at the vegetarian Vertical Diner in South Salt Lake and then hot footed it to the indie Broadway Theatre to watch the Bob Dylan flick I’m Not There. Surprisingly, it was a lot of fun. The meal was actually quite tasty, but I still haven’t wrapped my head around the movie yet (OK, if anyone understands the part with Richard Gere as the old outlaw and the whole Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid thing, for the love of God e-mail me because I was completely lost!). Oh, and by the way, muffins, Cate Blanchett was absolutely amazing! You must go see the film.
Anyway, I had read fabulous things about the Vertical Diner in the Catalyst Magazine, but I hadn’t really gotten around to eating there. Oh, who am I kidding? The closest thing I’ve had to a vegetarian meal this year was a meatball dinner at IKEA! But I digress. Once we got there Kerry Boo had a salad and I had a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. Now kittens, here’s the thing. I firmly believe that the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich is tangible proof of a true and loving God. I base this on a religious experience I once had at the Newark airport of all places. On the lower level of the terminal is a fast food joint with a gigantic grill full of peppers and onions that you can smell from inside the plane. Yes, I am talking “touching the face of God” delicious. So with that comparison in mind, I reluctantly chomped down on a vegetarian version made with “Boca Burger,” which I guess is some sort of communist tofu, organicky, soylent green kind of meat substitute. Was I pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t heinous and actually turned out to be pretty good! Who knew? Also, the staff were just lovely and didn’t have that whole judgmental, holier than thou, Toyota Prius-driving, superiority thing going on, which was rather refreshing.
So after eating there and at a few other enlightened vegetarian places with the sis, I am forced to re-evaluate my world view … and change my criteria for judging a vegetarian restaurant. My solution is a cruelty-free sliding scale that captures my full range of responses to meat-free fare. They are 1) completely heinous 2) semi-heinous 3) heinous 4) not totally heinous and 5) blissfully free of heinousness. Based upon my experience, the Vertical Dinner gets an enthusiastic number five. I would go there for a meal anytime, with or without my big sister guilt tripping me about eating Bessie the Cow, and I would strongly recommend you do the same. You will feel better and far less guilty for it.
Now if I could just give up the whale bone corsets made with underage slave labor in coal-fueled factories, I would be at one with the universe! Oh well. Happy New Year, petals!