#Trending: Vegetarian Tasting Menus

By Kelly Dobkin  |  July 22, 2014

Vegetarian tasting menus started in high-end restaurants like French LaundryJean-Georges, Bouley and Per Se so that vegetarian diners could still enjoy a taste of what these over-the-top culinary experiences had to offer. But the trend has trickled down to more casual eateries for nonvegetarian reasons. In fact, lately veggie tasting menus are as ubiquitous as a kale salad around NYC. Dovetail's John Fraser, a French Laundry alum, made them popular a few years back with his famed "Meatless Mondays." But one thing has shifted recently when it comes to these green-minded menus. The veggie tasting menu isn't just popular for political reasons. In fact, the diners that opt for it aren't necessarily trying to make a statement about global warming, animal cruelty and/or the merits of a veggie-based diet. These days, the veggie tasting menu is just straight up trendy.

Chez Jose, a pop-up restaurant billing itself as "vegetable-forward," serves up veggie-focused fare cooked by a two-man team, chef Jose Ramirez-Ruiz and his girlfriend, pastry chef Pam Yung

Gotham Bar & Grill, a 30-year-old Greenwich Village fixture, recently added a six-course all-veggie tasting-menu option to their regular menu for the summer months as well, which includes items like a Greenmarket Ceviche with baby beets, watermelon radish, mango and granada chile vinaigrette. Longtime SoHo fixture PUBLIC also recently debuted an all-veggie tasting menu in June for $75.

Newest to the party is ACME in NoHo, where chef Mads Refslund is rolling out a new nine-course vegetarian menu for $65. Known for its New Nordic cuisine and emphasis on foraging, you'll find items like chilled carrot soup with gooseberries & summer flowers, roasted padron peppers with rose petals and yogurt and johnnycakes with grilled L.I. cactus and wild mushrooms. 

Veggies have moved from the side of the plate to the center, as we've shown previously, and look for the widespread popularity of veggie tasting menus to increase even further in the coming months.