Skip to content


Guide for sophisticated vegetarian dining

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Portland has an amazing number of vegetarian/vegan restaurants (great list here: But what if you’re traveling with an omnivore? And he’d like a break from the forced march through vegetarian joints? How do Portland restaurants that serve a mixed crowd handle pesky vegetarian diners?

Farm Cafe, at least, treats them just fine. This is a farm-to-table place, and there is a clear focus on the vegetable bounty of the Pacific Northwest.

Many of the appetizers, including the specials, were vegetarian on our visit. Roasted whole garlic, hummus plate, pickle plate, beet carpaccio. Mmm. In the spirit of our late summer visit, I got the spicy heirloom tomato and squash soup.

It was delightfully spicy and bright with the flavor of fresh tomatoes. The accompanying bread (from a local bakery) was delicious too. A good start.

Maybe Portland vegetarians eat out more often and spend money more freely than their Austin counterparts? Maybe they organize and write encouraging letters to local chefs? How else to explain FIVE vegetarian entree options, including a vegan dish?

I ignored the two pasta options (yawn) and still had three dishes to choose from. The housemade veggie burger looked great, but I went with the Herb Crusted Tofu with Mushrooms Marsala. (I’m sure the grit cakes are good too, but I can get grits at home.)

I pan fry tofu now and then. The most important rule is to LEAVE IT ALONE. Let it develop a nice crust before you flip it over. Don’t test, don’t prod, don’t rush. Just wait. It’s easy to say and hard to do. For me. Not for Farm Cafe:

Their tofu had a satisfying, tasty, caramelized crust and was topped with caramelized onions. The slight sweetness was cut by the mushroom marsala, which was earthy and creamy but vegan. The “cream” was really made with Silk creamer. I asked for extra veggies instead of mashed potatoes. If you stick with the potatoes, this would be a very comforting plate of comfort food.

We finished with a blueberry tartlet. Since we were sharing, I had to dig right in, no time for photos. But it was good, sweet and slightly tart.

Farm Cafe is in a restored Victorian home in the Burnside neighborhood and has stained glass windows, high ceilings, and a bustling, friendly air. The atmosphere is casual and a little loud, but boy are they serious about food. On my next visit to Portland, I’m going  back here. And ordering that veggie burger.

Portland vegetarians, you have it good.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,