It has come to my attention that some of you don’t share BiteClub’s passion for bacon. Or foie gras. Or carnitas, sweetbreads, brick-grilled chicken or, well, much of anything that once had a face. And I get that. I really do.
But here’s the thing–vegetarian food is, for the most part, horrifying to me. I know this from experience. Bad, bad, horrible, soul-sucking, lentil-flavored experience.
Now, let me say that I applaud the enlightened contingencies of you who have a million political, health and karmic reasons for not eating meat. I don’t eat lamb or veal for exactly those reasons (don’t try to understand the logic). But I can’t help but feel incredibly concerned for the mental welfare of so many who suffer through day after day of bland, cardboard-tasting, poorly seasoned, tofu-laden, fart-inducing meat-and-dairy-free meals. Don’t even get me started on the whole idea of being vegan. I would sooner consider eating a tarantula than ever have to choke down another dairy-free carob brownie.
But, okay, I hear your concerns for BiteClub’s single-minded food focus. Life is more than rare steaks and tuna tartare. So, mindful of the meatless masses, I ventured forth to Govinda’s in Santa Rosa–a groovy vegetarian buffet frequented by equally groovy, vegetarian JC students.
I’m not happy about this, mind you. But I decided to do it for you.
Here at Govinda’s, the set up is pretty simple: You first hit a well-stocked salad station that would make a rabbit seize with delight. Crisp, beautiful veggies abound--a good sign. I will say with confidence that vegetarians do get the importance of not skimping on quality greens. The rest of the buffet, however, is less endearing, featuring steamed veggies, basmati and brown rice, a vegetable curry, fettucini alfredo (seriously?) and two pots of watery dal.
Oh lord of pork-flavored products, save me.
Diving in, I’ll say that despite the lackluster presentation, I’m both warmed and encouraged by both the soupy veggie curry and the golden dal that slips off my spoon almost before I can get it to my mouth. Seasoning is not an issue here. The cooked veggies seem to stand at attention and dare you to ignore them. Here’s the shocker: Even the strange purple scoop of halvalah dessert wasn’t half bad. I have no idea what was actually in it, or why it was the color of an ugly bruise, but it was-let’s say, pretty edible.
Back for seconds? Let’s not go crazy here. But I’ll admit that my Govinda’s experience was enlightening (and not just because of the lady meditating to the annoyingly loud sitar music next to me). I leared that tofu dressing isn’t half bad. Maybe I saved a chicken or two. And, if nothing else maybe I balanced my karma a little.
Worth every bit of $8.50.
If you go: The buffet gets a little picked-over by 1:30pm, but if you hang around chatting long enough, they’ll get around to restocking. You can get a la carte items a little more cheaply, if you’re not hungry enough for the all-you-can eat buffet.
PS: Yes, I have been to Greens. I also happen to be very good friends with one of the most amazing vegetarian cook/authors of all time, Heidi Swanson, who I hear can cook up a mean batch of, well, stuff that doesn’t have meat in it. See, we can all get along. Check out her website.
Govinda’s, 1899 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.544-2491