I had planned to spend yesterday afternoon in the studio, for the first time in weeks, just to see if there were any sparks left, or if anything would stick if I threw it against the wall. Then Deborah suggested lunch, and I was out the door in a flash, no looking back. The studio has been waiting all this time, it will wait a little longer.
We headed to the opposite end of town, to Arroyo Seco, our destination, that-place-that-changes-owners-about-every-other-week. Last time I was there, well, a couple of years ago, it was called Gypsy 360. I used to get the Buddha Bowl, with brown rice, veggies, tofu, and peanut sauce. Mmmm. Or maybe I should say, Ommm. But when we got to the door and I saw the name is now Hunter Tom's, I was a little bit worried.
One of the many nice things about being vegan is I don't have to read entire menus. Since it was a special occasion -- Tuesday afternoon, and I was out of my house -- we started with a big beer, which we shared. It was really good, and the label was exceptional. My favorite part of the menu was the line at the bottom, that read, "There will be a $1 surcharge for any irritating substitution." The owner told us about the guy who asked for a slice of onion... exactly 1/4 inch thick. Irritating, indeed. I was reminded of our Honeymoon Pizza days, back in Seattle, where we learned very quickly that we couldn't please everyone, and shouldn't even try to. I did appreciate that Hunter Tom's offered one little nod to the veg-heads who might wander in, but clearly, the place intends to attract meat eaters. (I refrain from calling them meat-heads, because so many of my friends still eat meat. It's catchy though, and it might stick, so don't be offended.)
Skimming past all the meaty offerings, I noted that even the salads couldn't be veganized in a satisfying way. All of the dressings contained cheese, and a wedge of naked lettuce is just a little too Peter Rabbit, even for me. I ordered the only thing on the menu that looked friendly, the Buddha's Buns, which had the added comfort of echoing the name of my beloved, bygone, Buddha Bowl.
Deborah got a chicken-something, and we shared an order of sweet potato fries, because the burgers didn't come with anything. The food was good, even though the bread was too white for me. We both set the buns aside, and I took them home for the ravens that hang out around our yard, hoping for scraps. My lentil patty was house-made and quite good -- I'll be using lentils in my next batch of burgers at home. It had enough flavor and texture that it was still good all alone on a plate, with only a leaf of lettuce and a few slices of avocado. Hold the mayo, please. There are eggs in there. Deborah liked her chicken sandwich, but I didn't ask for a bite. You meat eaters are on your own.
I'm working on a rating system. Like Carrots maybe. On a scale of one to five, rating it from only my limited vegan perspective, I'll give Hunter Tom's 1 Carrot for vegan options, 5 Carrots for friendly service, 2 Carrots for price ($9.50 for lentils and white bread on a paper plate with no side was a little steep I thought) and 5 carrots for atmosphere. It's always nice to sit in the sun room, looking out at the greening elms and cottonwoods, while sharing some time and food with a good friend.
Bottom line, it was a nice lunch with terrific company, which is really enough to make me happy. I wouldn't go back there on my own, but then, it's very likely that the next time I'm in Arroyo Seco, that restaurant will have changed hands again. Maybe next time a couple of vegans will buy it. A girl can dream.