by Cheryl Baehr
I used to feel bad for vegetarians. While I got to dine out and stuff my face with prosciutto and ribs, their menu choices were typically more limited. ("Um, we can do a veggie pasta?") Thankfully, meatless options have gotten much better over the past few years, and vegetarian restaurants like Tree House (3177 South Grand Boulevard; 314-696-2100) are popping up all over town.
This new crop of vegetarian joints doesn't take its captive audience for granted, opting instead to create innovative, farm-to-table offerings that appeal to diners regardless of whether or not they eat meat. Tree House's Johnny cake is a perfect example of a dish with such a broad reach. The warm masa and black-bean pancake is smothered in vegetarian escabeche (pickled vegetables), chimichurri and malagueta (pepper) sauce -- think a vegan slinger. In a blind tasting, I would have sworn there was braised meat somewhere on the plate, as the sauces intermingled to create a rich gravy that soaked into the corn cake. That this is vegan and gluten free is shocking. Vegetarian or not, this carnivore would eat the Johnny cake any day of the week.
Previously: #78: A Classic Glazed Doughnut from Pharoah's Donuts #79: Skordalia at the Purple Martin #80: Beef Brisket Birria Taco Taco at Mission Taco Joint #81: Cappuccino from Sump Coffee #82: The Salted Caramel Croissant at Pint Size Bakery #83: Gnocchi at the Good Pie #84: Truffled Tater Tots at Blood & Sand #85: Marinated Feta Cheese at Evangeline's Bistro and Music House #86: Chorizo and Egg Sope at Spare No Rib #87: Duck Burger at Planter's House #88: WildSmoke's Smoked Chicken Wings #89: The Duck Prosciutto Flatbread at Bella Vino #90: The "Dam Burger" at the Dam #91: The "Hog Mess" at Blind Tiger #92: Khao Soi at Fork & Stix #93: The "Smokehouse Club" Sandwich at Bud's Smokehouse #94: Cafe Natasha's Yogurt Dip #95: Macarons at La Patisserie Chouquette #96: The Libertine's Fried Chicken #97: Pork Belly at Element #98: M'Lwee at Baida #99: Breadbasket at Juniper #100: Bucatini All'Amatriciana at Pastaria