It has been an incredibly busy summer with work trips, amazing beach vacations, weddings and one very big piece of news - I bought a house. I haven't had a chance to talk about this major life moment here on the blog, but it finally happened - after a year and a half of searching with the most patient realtor, I found my dream home. I closed on July 31st and moved in August 17th. I have been living happily in my new digs ever since!
The new house is located off of Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown, smack dab in the middle of Harvard Square and Watertown Square. Though I grew up shopping at the Watertown and Arsenal malls and sharing countless meals at the Aegean with my grandparents, in general, this area is uncharted territory for me.
What could be more exciting than moving to a neighborhood full of restaurants you've never been to? Hmmmm. Pretty much nothing!
My first meal as a legal Watertown resident in my new zip code was at Red Lentil on Mt. Auburn Street. Red Lentil is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant and I heard from two vegetarians friends that it's excellent.
My mother, our family friend and I arrived at 7:15pm on a Wednesday evening and the place was already packed!
We put our name in with the host and took a seat on the benches by the hostess stand. Notice the green walls? Make no mistake, this place is for veggies!
While waiting we watched plate after plate of delicious smelling food be delivered around the dining room.
About half of the diners had the pleasure of being seated right in the front window- prime people watching position.
After about a ten minute wait we were ushered to the table at the very back of the restaurant and handed our menus. I was surprised how extensive the offerings were. The menu covered soups, salads, noodles and a slew of fake meat entrees.
To begin, my mother ordered the miso soup. She took one spoonful and her face twisted in disgust. "Ooooo. This is not good miso soup," she said while wincing and trying to unpinch her face. When I asked why she said, "It is so thin tasting and the flavor is way more ginger than miso. It's just not the way that soup is supposed to taste."
When our waitress noticed my mother wasn't touching the soup she said, "You didn't like it? No problem, I'll take it away and take it off the bill." Well that was a nice surprise!
For an appetizer we ordered the gobi manchurian to share. This dish is cauliflower coated in Indian spices. About two years ago I became obsessed with cauliflower. I like that its shape reminds me of broccoli and therefore it feels healthy, but its taste is delightfully similar to mashed potatoes. Win-win.
The gobi manchurian was delicious! The cauliflower was seasoned perfectly and the Indian flavors were bold but not overpowering. Between the three of us we devoured every last piece.
For entrees, our family friend ordered the pistachio and herb encrusted tofu which came in the most beautiful, vertical presentation. The tofu is topped with sauteed greens and a red pepper and jalapeno relish.
I had a bite of the tofu and I was really impressed. It was flavorful and the texture was perfect.
My mother ordered the sea vegetable salad (translation = pile of seaweed). The plate was citrus marinated arame and hijiki over scallions, sesame seeds and mixed greens.
I was feeling adventurous so I asked my mother if I could steal a bite of her salad. She obliged and as soon as I tasted it, I regretted it. It tasted like the inside of a fish tank. I don't eat sushi, so maybe these flavors are more familiar to those who do, but I was completely turned off.
A few bites into our meals, our waitress returned to ask how we were enjoying our dishes. Since my mother had been picky about the soup, our waitress specifically questioned her about her salad to make sure she was happy.
I chose the Thai peanut noodle salad for my dinner. It was chilled soba noodles, carrots, red peppers, cilantro and scallions tossed in peanut sauce and served over mixed greens. As you can see, the dish is topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
I loved this salad! The noodles were spicy and had a great kick. The serving size was so generous that I tapped out half way through and took the rest home. I took the salad to work the next day for lunch and it was just as fantastic on day two.
After our dinner plates were cleared our waitress asked if we'd like to have dessert. We were curious about the offerings and requested the menu. As it turns out, all of the dessert at Red Lentil are vegan. While we love vegetarian meals, we were a bit freaked out by the idea of vegan desserts and decided to pass.
Both of the dishes I ordered at Red Lentil, the gobi manchurian and the Thai peanut noodle salad, were excellent. I already have my eye on items to try on my next visit including beet-potato latkes, the butternut squash polenta and the sweet potato quesadilla.
The service at Red Lentil was a little lacking - the food was slow to come out, our waitress would disappear for long periods of time and for some reason there was no ice in our water despite it being a super hot and humid August day.
Despite the slow pace of the service, the food was delicious and I am grateful to have a vegetarian restaurant just steps from my front door!
Now that I'm settled into my new neighborhood, what Watertown restaurants do I need to check out?