I need to tell you something, and I don’t really know how to start.
Wait: I’ll start with this. I’m not pregnant.
Now that I’ve made that clear, here’s what else I need to tell you: I think I’m a semi-vegetarian.
Over the past year, I’ve been pulling away from the meat dishes. There’s no real reason (I swear, no pregnancy), yet I just can’t bring myself to eat meat.
Since January, I went meat-free full time, and I sometimes even call myself a vegetarian.
While discovering the vegetarian world, I’m realizing there are limitations when going out to eat. Before, I’d never give a trusty chicken dish a second thought. Now? I have to review the meatless options and decide from there.
With that, I’ve discovered some great places that have held my hand and proven that vegetarian doesn’t mean boring.
Ginger Café, Carleton Place
Say hello to my new best friend.
Ginger Café first opened its doors in 2014 in the old train station in Carleton Place, and they’ve recently done a renovation. IT. IS. GORGEOUS. It’s a cozy atmosphere where you’ll take the time to savour your meal and leave feeling full and centered. The best part? They have a vegetarian buffet AND fresh juices. I dug the summer rolls and peanut sauce as well as the black bean patty, and topped my meal up with a fresh Sunrise juice. I would honestly travel specifically to Carleton Place JUST so I could lunch at the Ginger Café.
Go for: the vegetarian buffet, fresh juices and gorgeous décor.
East Meets West
Chef Ram Mogandas brings such a unique element to the Lanark County restaurant scene. He opened the family-dining restaurant, East Meets West, in Perth and the name tells it all. While he offers western-inspired menu options such as the popular wings and Signature Chicken Parmesan, I think the Eastern food element really sets the restaurant apart. While his butter chicken is worth the visit alone, his vegetarian dishes are delicious. I love the Paruppu Curry dish (with the Naan of course). You’ll soak in the history as you sit in the restaurant which once served as the carriage house for the wealthy Matheson family in the 1800s. There’s so much culture infused into the space and you’ll feel welcomed by Chef Ram and his crew.
Go for: The Flavour and the Friendliness.
The Stone Cellar:
The Stone Cellar Restaurant in Perth has been a long-time favourite of mine. You’ll immediately unwind when you sit near the double-sided fireplace, exposed brick, comfy chairs and beautiful bar as it creates this intimate, cozy atmosphere that’s hard to find anywhere else. I’ve been a Chicken Torpedo advocate for years now at The Stone Cellar, so when discovering the vegetarian side of life, I had to continue down the menu. That’s when I discovered their Nutty Burger. It’s a blend of pecans, peanuts and almonds ground in their kitchen, mixed with fresh herbs and vegetables, and then crowned with their house peach jam. Hello, yum. The owners are wonderful hosts and you’ll learn about why and how the food selections became menu selections. It doesn’t hurt that one of their owners is a sommelier. Enough said.
Go for: The atmosphere and custom menu/drink recommendations.
Heirloom Bistro & Café
If you really want to step up the culinary game, then head to Heirloom Bistro & Café in Almonte. You’ll sense the town’s historic flavour as it’s nestled on the ground floor of a restored heritage building at the bottom of Mill St. When you walk into the bistro, you’ll soak in the open-concept, but feel welcomed into an inviting, intimate space. Here’s where they get me: I have so, so many vegetarian options here. Whether it’s brunch or dinner, they’ve got me covered. I have owner and chef Richard Kletnieks to thank for that. Here’s what I mean: Portobello and Grilled Vegetable Calzone, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Baby Spinach and Chevre, or the Sweet Corn & Peruvian Pepper Polenta Stack. Sign me up.
Go for: The chef’s creations.
CCs on the Rideau
Get your boat. Right now.
If you want to go for the ultimate views, then park ‘yer boat at CCs on the Rideau. Located in Rideau Ferry on the shores of the Rideau Lake, boaters and travellers make lasting summer memories when they dock their fleet and sit waterside. While the views are terrific, I love the creative options they bring to the table. The grilled veggie and Goat Cheese wrap is a contender as is the portabella mushroom burger. Also, the owner Mel, is a gem and does a lot for the community. You feel like you’re one of the family when you come to CCs on the Rideau.
Go for: The views and the connection.
We are really happy to work with our sponsors, Lanark County Tourism Association and Ontario Highlands Tourism Association, to share this information with you! Learn more about the region on OHTO’s gorgeous Come Wander blog and stay connected with all things tourism with Lanark County Tourism.
Follow Up: Over the past month, my aversion has simmered and I’m eating some meat again, but still go for many vegetarian options!