Rocky River has farm-to-table vegan options, but they're a little rocky

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By: Rama Ganesan

Rama Ganesan/Flavor 574

The Ladies of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College had a “Let’s Eat Out” gathering at the Rocky River Tap & Table last week. As a relative newcomer, I am pleased to join the group at some of its outings to learn about our area from other women affiliated with the university and college.

I checked the online menu for Rocky River and counted at least three entrees that seemed vegan, with some salads and a couple of appetizers besides.

Its location, in Granger’s City Plaza, is an attractive and upscale lifestyle center. It was hard to tell with the snow, but the ladies mentioned that they had dined outdoors on the patio the last time they visited.

If you go:
Rocky River Tap & Table
1032 E. University Drive, Granger
574-272-5458

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

From where I sat at the end of the table, the wall displayed two images of barns, underscoring that the restaurant is a farm-to-table venture.

The offerings are presented in simple and elegant menu that displays both the food and drink offerings. Although, my own menu was stained with grease –- these little things detract from the quality image the restaurant might wish to project.

The unspoken decision among all of us was to start with a drink and move onto the entrees. The very first white wine offering, Parducci Pinot Gris, was vegan-friendly, which saved me from a more lengthy and discourteous search on my smartphone. My companions voiced their approval of the beer offerings.

The waitperson announced that one of the soups was vegan minestrone, but our table was not in the mood for soup that day. So I quizzed him eagerly on the three vegan main dishes I had previously identified.

Specifically, I asked whether the bread on the “handheld vegetable stack” was vegan. He seemed unsure, but soon disclosed that the breads are made with some dairy or eggs.

As it turned out, the vegetables in the “stack” were actually no different from the vegetable roast when bread was removed from the picture. So, what I had considered two different dishes were, in fact, not as different as I had imagined.

I opted for the vegetable roast and, as I had been eying them on someone else’s plate, a side of irresistible fries.

Our meals felt a tad bit late and I was gently griping to the waiter that I was getting hungry. When it arrived, my plate had a nice layer of veggies, brown portobello, purple onion, yellow squash, greens and cauliflower; but the sauce around the stack looked dried out, and the temperature of the veggies had already peaked. I do wonder if my dish was waiting around while others were being prepared.

The quinoa was an interesting soft counterpoint to the hearty texture of the vegetables, but its flavor could be more engaging. The fries were gratifying to begin with, but again, they turned cold too soon.

There were no vegan desserts, and I was sorely in the mood for one! I came home and baked up some cookies

Once one becomes an ethical vegan and empathetic to the suffering of other animals, it becomes a challenge to eat at a table where animal bodies are being served. Nevertheless, I consider it an honor to demonstrate to others that an animal-free lifestyle is quite feasible.

The ladies were discussing another upcoming event, and they were rather perplexed by how to offer a vegan food alternative! But the effort is well worth it, for a multitude of reasons — including our health and the health of our planet.

Restaurants like Rocky River, following on the interest for sustainable and ethically sourced food, are popping up in fashionable spots in a lot of cities. They seem to offer patrons an alternative to the factory farm and the environmental destruction wreaked by intensive animal agriculture.

Unfortunately, though, the alternative is merely illusory — a psychological stop-gap, rather than a true solution to the problems. The solution, according to a recent article in another Indiana publication, is a greater commitment to plant-based foods.

I hope that Rocky River will add more fully vegan dishes to its menu in the near future.

For more tales of eating vegan in Michiana from Rama Ganesan and her fellow meatless maven Crystal Hallwood, subscribe to the Vegan at the Bend email newsletter.
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