Sub-par Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian
Posted on 08 / 21 / 2011
I have eaten at Gillies twice, about 12 months apart, while dropping my brother off in Blacksburg for college, and both times have been excited about the idea of eating at 'THE vegetarian restaurant in town!', and both times have been utterly disappointed.
The first time, I noticed a lack of vegan options (including no desserts), but finally made my choice (a vegetable and peanut saute dish) and received a dish that was passable in quality and creativity, but which I definitely could have made myself (and better) at home.
The next time, I was fuming by the time I left. I know I'm a bit sensitive, but as a long-time vegan, when I go to a vegetarian restaurant, I EXPECT to be catered to. This is how vegetarian restaurants should work. Except, we happened to go to the place on a Saturday, which meant that only 'brunch' food was available until later in the day. Brunch food means, I found out, eggs. Eggs, cheese, toast, biscuits, and non-vegan pancakes, waffles and french toast. A special vegetarian brunch menu, indeed. Little icons noted that all egg dishes could be veganised by subbing in tofu for $1 more. Literally, the only vegan option available, on the entire menu, was tofu--either with potatoes and toast, in a non-vegan (honey and dairy-based) wrap, or as 'scrambled tofu'. With mounting frustration, I ordered the scrambled tofu, which turned out to be hard, fried cubes of tofu (such as you might have with *any* vegetarian dish), covered in barbecue sauce. This does not qualify as 'scrambled tofu' in my book.
On top of my irritation with the heavily ovo-lacto bias of this vegetarian restaurant, I was also again impressed by the considerable lack of any imagination when preparing the menu or items. There was literally NO ingenuity required in their brunch selection at all; you could probably do better at an IHOP even (!!!)--and still end up with the same high fructose corn syrup 'jellies' as your table's centerpiece. Gillies adds nothing special to these options. Why it's important that it's a 'vegetarian' brunch is beyond me, since pancakes &c are generally vegetarian.
Bottom line: if you want decent ovo-lacto vegetarian food in Blacksburg and aren't willing to venture on Virginia Tech's campus (where it apparently has award-winning food), come on over. If you're vegan or an amateur or aspiring chef yourself, I wouldn't get yourself too excited or your hopes too far up.
Generous portions, Friendly staff, Decent prices (~$7 brunch)
Not very vegan-friendly, Unimaginative menu