As kids, the extensive convincing Mom and Dad would go through to get us to eat our veggies included but were not limited to; mild threats of sleeping at the dinner table, nearly on the knees begging, bribery with the sorts of candy and other sweet confections, or heavier threats of going to bed without dinner whatsoever, the likes of Max from Where The Wild Things Are. Well mom n’ pop, the day has come, the tables have turned. No longer are turning a nose up at a brussel sprout, but actually seeing it listed as an ingredient and being the decision maker. Those years of veggie tirades seem so obscure with our head-over-heels love for the fully vegetarian menu at The Garden Grille, located at the tail end of Blackstone Blvd in Pawtucket.
Garden Grille is easily one of my utmost favorite restaurants in the state, for the simple fact that the food that is placed before you is consistently delicious. Whether you are a creature of habit and order the butternut squash quesadilla every. Single. Time. without a glance at the menu (guilty), or if you dabble in the specials menu. You can guarantee a delectable dish. I am confident that I could close my eyes and point, and I would be thrilled with the outcome.
We started out with an appetizer that everyone can love; Korean Tacos. Two soft flour tortillas hug a slice of nutty tempeh marinated in a sweet chili glaze, shrouded by a colorful purple cabbage, creamy avocado, and a tangy chipotle aioli. These tacos can do no wrong in my eyes. They are flavorful, bright, and the best addition to your taco Tuesday rotation.
Salads are a summer time favorite, but a word of advice, never settle for a basic salad. Cukes and tomatoes are all well and good, but when you have fresh, in-season fruits and veggies to decorate your bowl of green, there is no room for entry level veggies. The Reggies Raw Heaven is an absolute go-to, so much that if I ever meet Reggie, I’d have to shake his hand. The curt bitterness of leafy arugula is cut with a sweet pomegranate dressing, and piled with beet infused jicama, tart grapefruit segments, lush and sweet mango slices, buttery avocado and crushed cashews for a nutty crunch. Like I said, no basic salads allowed. If you can fit all of that onto one forkfull, you will be in juicy green paradise.
For the grand finale, a true Mount Rushmore of dishes. Except instead of the portraits of American Presidents, the massive mound of tortilla chips is proudly adorned with the grand classics of nachos; President cheddar jack, President guac, Vice President salsa, Secretary vegan sour cream, and General black beans. This heaping pile of oozy toppings of the ultimate comfort dish and honestly, my favorite nachos in town. While nachos are hard to mess up, when they are done well, it’s easy to recognize. This right here? Is a refined nacho.
Although I had mentioned, I feel the need to stress this point; Garden Grille is one of my all time favorite restaurants. It is the absolute go-to, the fall back, the treat yo self, the special night out, the casual take out at home, the “I want to show off to my out of town friends”. It is whatever you want or need it to be! The place has been around for decades and is recognized in the community as a staple.
I want to make one final point. When speaking about a vegetarian place, it is easy to get lost in making comparison to meat based dishes, saying things like ‘the Reuben tastes just like real meat!” (Don’t get me wrong, it totally does), or "get your meat lover friends to try it!". I think there is something to be said about creating a space where meat has no place at the table. So much, that meat is not worth mentioning. It is completely irrelevant and not needed to showcase how incredible the the meals are in it’s absence. That being said, Meat, you are not missed here.
Thank you to the Garden Grille, for always being there for us, and to the staff who is always warm and welcoming, even when you are over flowing with a bustling crowd of people knocking the door down for some damn good vegetarian cuisine. Love yall!
Photos: Emily Homonoff
Braceletes: Marianna Mae Designs - handmade in RI