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Elkhart Dining Days 2014: Fat Tomato's $30 dinner for two

Let me address the elephant in the room: I’m a vegan.

For anyone not familiar with what a vegan is, it’s anyone who abstains from meat (just like a vegetarian does), but also cuts out all forms of dairy or animal-derived products. So if I said it was particularly easy for me to order at restaurants, I’d be a big, vegan liar. 

Such was not the case at Fat Tomato

Fat Tomato is one of a very large handful of restaurants serving specials for Elkhart Dining Days. A portion of the sales from the Elkhart Dining Days offerings benefits the Food Bank of Elkhart County. If you head out to Fat Tomato, you’ll want to bring a friend, as this $30 dinner for two is plenty big enough to share

Fortunately for me, I have plenty of non-vegan friends, so one of my carnivorous coworkers came along (it didn’t take much convincing) to sample the items I couldn’t eat. 

We started with a house salad with pomegranate vinaigrette dressing — hold the cheese, please. The dressing wasn’t overwhelmingly tart, but it still gave a little kick that made my face pucker. 

Two appetizer options were given: What’s a Crusty or Italian Sausage Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms. We asked our waitress the same — what’s a Crusty? Turns out it’s like cheesy garlic bread, but instead of bread, think of a pizza crust. That’s exactly what this monster looked like, too. 

A kitchen error turned out to be to the benefit of my dining buddy, since the Crusty was double its usual size. 

“The chef accidentally didn’t cut the dough,” our waitress laughed as she set a plate on our table that could easily feed two for an entire meal. “I figured you guys probably wouldn’t have any objections, though.” 

Unfortunately, this was one of the items I had to forgo. On top of a thin crust was a “sea of cheesiness,” my coworker described. While I don’t eat dairy, I’m not above admitting it smelled divine. Choose either garlic butter or marinara sauce to dunk the cheesy squares in. 

I didn’t really mourn the absence of a vegan-friendly appetizer, though, because the Garden Vegetable with Pasta Supreme was plenty for lunch and then some.

The noodles are gluten-free, so gluten-sensitive diners need not worry. There’s no tomato sauce, rather the noodles are tossed with olive oil and covered with squash, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and onion. 

For meat-eaters, I’m told the Almond Crusted Cod was tasty and offers a choice of two sides. But don’t just take my word for it — there’s plenty I would have loved to try if I didn’t stick to my convictions. Smells totally count, right? 

Fat Tomato is nestled in a plaza at 4100 E. Bristol St.. in Elkhart. and is open Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Follow copy editor Danielle Waldron on Twitter at @DanielleWaldron

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