Whole Life Magazine

December / January 2016

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Page 20 of 43

Photo: Coyne PR W hen you think of the Hard Rock Café, the fi rst thing that comes to mind might be great drinks, burgers, and a fun rotation of music videos from the likes of Lady Gaga, the Stones, or Nine Inch Nails. In short, you're probably not thinking of vegetarian entrees—and yet, in the glittery Hollywood Boulevard outlet of the chain, vegans and vegetarians have cause to rejoice—and rock out. Hard Rock Hollywood is now offering a vegetarian menu, es- sentially a refi ned version of the same chain-wide limited-time meatless menu that ran during National Vegetarian Month in October. But the Hollywood menu is here to stay, and features deli- cious cocktails and mocktails, inventive and fresh salads, and the signature oh-so-tasty but yes-it's-fried fl avors that Hard Rock diners just have to love whether they're choosing from the regular or vegetarian menu. Selections at Hard Rock must fi rst and foremost accompany the fun, rock n' roll atmosphere, draft beers, and really fi ne cock- tails served here, and the new vegetarian selection fi ts the bill perfectly. No longer do vegan and veg diners have to content themselves with fries to go with that drink. We began our meal with the crispy Caulifl ower Wings, a compulsively delicious starter that takes the place of traditional buffalo-style chicken wings. Here, breaded, fried, and surprisingly light caulifl ower is paired with a rich blue cheese dipping sauce, celery, and carrot sticks. Warning: You'll fi nd it a diffi cult task indeed to stop eating these. Equally fi ne is the Ratatouille Flatbread, a nicely light, fi rm fl atbread topped with tender, garlicky, grilled ratatouille veg- etables—tomato, onions, zucchini, and eggplant, drizzled with Romano and mozzarella, and garlic aioli. This is a nice, very well-fl avored pizza-like dish, one that you would be pleased you ordered at any restaurant in town. Vegan diners will enjoy the Fennel, Beet, and Orange Salad, featuring bountiful, tasty pieces of fresh fennel, roasted beets, orange, mint, cilantro, and spring greens. The dressing is a garlic, lime, and cumin vinaigrette. We liked the fl avorful zing of the fennel and mint combo quite a bit. We also enjoyed the breaded Caulifl ower Burger, a juicy pat- ty on a fi rm, sweet, and buttery brioche bun. The patty is nicely spiced, a welcome mix of caulifl ower itself, garlic, goat cheese, oregano, and egg, topped with Monterey Jack cheese, arugula lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli. While it's fried, it's not oily, and the mix of bun and veg patty is extremely fl avorful, a welcome respite from the often heavy-on-the-beans veggie burgers served at many spots. It comes with fries, but you could order a side of onion rings instead. While we didn't try them, there are two other veg menu options as well: a salad of quinoa and arugula with lime, ci- lantro, and pico de gallo, fi nely shredded Brussels sprouts, spicy pecans, crai- sins, and feta cheese; and a wrap featuring grilled ratatouille vegetables with spicy sriracha mayonnaise. Now let's look at the drinks specially designed to accompany this menu. On the non-alcoholic front, there's the Wascally Wab- bit, a delicious blended mix of carrot, apple, and orange juice with the tang of ginger and orgeat. The innovative Very Veggie 'Tini —fresh cucumber, red onion, mint, and lime juice shaken with Greek yogurt and Tito's Vodka—is creamy, cool, and smooth. Made with fresh berries, the yummy Blackberry Bramble comes in its own take-home, collectible Mason jar glass, and features muddled blackberries, gin, peach puree, homemade lemon- ade, and raspberry liqueur. Beautifully balanced, it's sweet with- out being cloying. Other specialty drinks made with pineapple and rum, or mango and tequila are equally lovely and come with the added bonus of that Mason jar souvenir. So, veg diners, keep on rockin' in the free world—Hard Rock defi nitely rocks out with fun, tasty, vegetarian fare. The menu is currently available in the Los Angeles area at Hard Rock Café Hollywood, located right on the Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. Park in the Hollywood and Highland complex. eat here now Music, Mocktails, and More HARD ROCKIN' VEGETARIAN By Genie Davis december/january 2017 21

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