I could never be a vegetarian, despite my love of just about every vegetable I know of. The problem is as simple as I can't resist the siren song of meat. Maybe not every day, but often enough to keep me certain that I don't want to live without it.
But even a carnivore can love a really well prepared vegetarian dish, as I was reminded yet again at Ipanema tonight. F.R.O. and I were dining there before the Live at Ipanema show and as I perused the chalkboard, I had a hard time deciding on just one entree because so many sounded appealing. I finally ordered the Bangers and Mash, with spicy sausage, root veggie puree and roasted Brussels Sprouts, It was hearty and spicy and creamy and crunchy and everything a person could want in a cold-night meal. A few bites of that well-thought out flavor combination had the potential to entice someone sure that they couldn't live without meat.
Dessert was a vegan chocolate coconut cake and if anyone could taste the absence of dairy, I'd like to hear from them. My slice of cake was decadently dark chocolate with a whipped white frosting covered in coconut, moist and dense. I didn't really deserve to order it, since I hadn't finished everything on my plate, but there was no one there to stop me, either. And then it was time for music.
The Diamond Center's sound was a bit of a departure from the last few Live bands and they performed an excellent set. I'd heard a bit of their Gallery 5 set Friday night, so I was already intrigued and eager to hear more of their sound. The vocalist's voice had a haunting and beautiful quality, while the guitars sounded dreamy and almost surf-like; it was pure psychedelic indie rock and impressively well-done. The buzz in the room was decidedly positive and I will most definitely seek out hearing them again.
And, of course, the noteworthy element of the evening was being in Ipanema after 11 p.m. and enjoying the air. It's still jarring to note the absence of cigarette smoke in all the usual places, Ipanema always having been very much one of those, at least late night. It was a first: coming home from Ipanemea and not having to remove smoke-scented clothing. I liked it.
RVA boasts a top-notch vegetarian restaurant known far beyond our city's limits for its amazing food and with good reason. It's the go-to restaurant destination for visiting musicians, both semi-regulars (Ted Leo) and newcomers to our fair city (Black Kids). The Grilled Gouda with caramelized onions and thyme is reason enough to try the place, but there are so many other compelling choices to entice you, too (Andrew, I'm talking to you), even if you don't think that meat is murder.