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Un-Granola

Guide for sophisticated vegetarian dining

Category Archives: Denver, CO

Watercourse has something for everyone: cheesy nachos for vegetarians who want something indulgent, salads and smoothies for  those detoxing, and a hearty pasta dish for those who wandered in, not knowing or caring that this is a vegetarian restaurant.

All this choice makes Watercourse a great place to take a big group.  Everyone from your vegan sister and your gluten-sensitive cousin to your meat-and-potatoes friend will find something to eat. (Though the meat of course will be made with seitan or tofu. Shhhh…)

The vibe here is hipster casual, with cheerful and opinionated service.

I was in desperate need of vegetables on my visit, so I started with a carrot, kale, apple, beet, celery, and fennel smoothie:

It was fresh and delicious. Fortified with all those vegetables, I split an order of samosas with my friend:

They looked more like empanadas than samosas, but the vegetable filling was very good. I wish they’d serve the chimichurri sauce on the side to keep the samosas from getting soggy. But overall, this was a fun start to the meal.

Next up for me, the macro plate:

This involved quinoa in miso sauce on one side, adzuki beans on the other, with pretty bok choy dividing the two. The beans were a tad bland, but I really liked the quinoa and the picked vegetable garnish. Loved the infusion of protein.

My friend had the Thai peanut stir fry:

The sauce had a pleasant savory/sweet flavor, and the noodles were firm, but the tofu (which my friend ordered blackened, at the recommendation of our server), overwhelmed the dish. This would be a more balanced dish without grilled tofu.

There’s just so much to try at Watercourse. And even your pickiest friend will find something to like here.

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The cheerful folks working at Linger do not want you to linger. This is a busy place, and they’d really like to seat the surly party of three that’s been waiting in the bar for 45 minutes. So take it all in — food, atmosphere, decor — while you can.

Since Linger is located on the site of the old Olinger mortuary, this hustle and sense of time moving too quickly seem appropriate, a reminder of our days rushing by. (The next time you’re in a mortuary, waffle fries may not be involved.)

Linger’s menu claims to offer street food, but many of the items, like risotto, are not usually found on food carts or sold on sticks. I think street food is shorthand for eclectic.

The menu lists a few soups, then goes on to group dishes by their region of origin (Eurasia/Spice Bazaar and South Asia/Bhindi Bazaar are two.)  The menu also features a chart marking each item as vegetarian, gluten-free, or available nut-free. There are plenty of vegetarian/vegan options, many of them featuring protein. The Mongolian BBQ, for example, is available with tofu.

All dishes are meant to be shared, and our server recommended that we order 2 dishes per person. I was going to get the raw samosas, but his description of them as “dehydrated nutrition bars” that are “not for everyone” prompted a move to the relative safety of bhel puri, Indian snack food made with puffed rice and chickpeas.  We also ordered the masala dosa (again from the South Asia section of the menu), the roasted butternut squash with black quinoa and pomegranate, which was listed under Eurasia, and some meat dishes.

It would be good if Linger provided serving utensils, since dishes are shared and double dipping is hard to avoid. Best to come here with non-sniffly friends.

The bhel puri came out first:

It was delicious though a touch soggy — maybe this dish waited too long before being served. The tamarind and yogurt toppings were tart, and cashews (considered the rich man’s nut in India) gave this a pleasing texture.

Our order of butternut squash came out next:

We all loved this dish. The colors of the squash, black quinoa, frisee, and pomegranate seeds made it visually pop, and the tartness of the seeds contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the squash. It’s encouraging to see quinoa, a source of veggie protein, used in restaurant dishes, especially one as creative as this.

Our masala dosa followed closely behind:

Even my mother (a great cook and master of Tamil delicacies such as masala dosa) says that this is one dish worth ordering at a restaurant: home cooks without special equipment can’t get pans hot enough to make this rice and lentil crepe as crisp as it ought to be. Linger’s dosa had crunch, and the non-traditional brussel sprout and potato filling was well-seasoned. In Tamil Nadu, masala dosa would not traditionally be served with tamarind date chutney, but rather with a lentil stew called sambar. (Of course, no South Indian restaurant would be located inside a mortuary, either.) This was a fun, tasty rendition of a South Indian classic.

We’d chowed down on the bhel puri, butternut squash, and masala dosa by the time my friends’ meat dishes arrived. Linger’s tapas-style, bring it out as it’s ready approach means that the vegetarian experience can be a bit awkward. Luckily, my friends had set aside enough of our three veggie dishes that I could eat those while they turned to the meat plates. So best to come here with friends who are generous as well as being non-sniffly.

We ended our evening with an order of kunefe, a dish with phyllo strands, clotted cream, and jam.

It wasn’t too sweet, and the contrast of crunchy phyllo shards with the clotted cream was nice.

Linger is full of fun touches, like a toe tag on the corner of the dessert menu and the kitschy fans near the entrance:

But take it all in quickly — this is a happening spot, and your time here will be over soon.

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I don’t get excited about pasta as a vegetarian entree option. Unless it’s homemade pasta with sharp cheese and crunchy corn. It’s carby comfort food. The salad was delicious too, full of local greens. Il Posto didn’t have any vegetarian protein when I visited, but it might on a day when local beans are in season. Low-key, neighborhood bistro ambiance + seriously good Italian food + nice wine list, with decent options by the glass.

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