Moosewood Restaurant serves up home-cooked meals that use good-quality, whole food ingredients. The food is consistently good, and reasoably priced (but not cheap). Don’t expect anything revolutionary, but do expect quality cooking from scratch, like most people would make, if they had the time. For fans of the Moosewood franchise, it’s worth a short pilgrimage. But, those further away aren’t missing much by making the dishes themselves. History of Moosewood Restaurant Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York, is a pillar of the vegetarian movement. Established in 1973, Moosewood Restaurant has been serving up vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian fare. They also have produced an extensive line of cookbooks and sell a line of frozen/refrigerated foods for home use. Ambience Reflects Laid-Back Vibe Moosewood Restaurant is a comfortable place, filled with diverse visitors, and beautiful, yet unusual dinnerware, provided by slateplate.com. Many fit into the hippie-vegetarian archetype, while others are young stdents, middle-aged parents with children and groups of business people from neighbouring hotels. The outdoor patio is the perfect shady spot to enjoy a warm-weather lunch or supper, but the lower level indoor seating area gets plenty of use too. Given that Moosewood is probably the most famous and influential of vegetarian restaurants, one would expect an energy in the atmosphere that reflects the dedication to running an empire for over 30 years, especially considering their choice of dinnerware. However, this restaurant feels like any other: staff go about their duties, chatting politely. People mingle. The vibe is very laid-back – as is their choice of dinnerware. As passerby glance at Moosewood restaurant, they don’t seem excited by the restaurant that has inspired vegetarian home cooks for decades. Some visitors arrive unaware of the restaurant’s significance and ask for burgers and Coke – neither of which are on the menu. Moosewood Recipes and Food Taste Like Home-Cooked Meals Food at Moosewood is not fast food, but it’s not gourmet fare that takes hours to prepare, either (though some home cooks might disagree). In 1973, when the restaurant opened, meatless dishes were no doubt more revolutionary than they are today. And dishes rife with exotic vegetables, tofu and tempeh may have blown diners away. But for 21st century vegetarians with access to exotic ingredients at home, these flavours are nothing new. Because the restaurant focuses on good, wholesome food as opposed to a strict set of dietary guidelines, they also serve seafood and liquor (beer, wine, and flavourful mixed drinks). The Moosewood Collective (who run the restarant) use recipes from their existing cookbooks as well as developing new ones in their kitchen. For dinner there is a sigle fish or seafood option, one or two vegan options and one or two (ovo-lacto) vegetarian dishes. Menu items change daily and are based on what’s seasonally and locally available. Diners who cook with the Moosewood books might find it fun to sample a dish they themselves have prepared at home. True to the cookbook recipes, food at the restaurant is satisfying and homey. These dishes taste like something grandma would cook at home, – but not like gourmet, cutting-edge restaurant food. And just like eating at home, the dishes are Moosewood are sometimes perfect and sometimes lacking. Dinner at Moosewood Restaurant For dinner there is a choice of appetizers. Hearty and flavourful Mini Reuben Croquettes made with tofu ($6) and Roasted Red Potatoes with Chipotle Aioli ($5.50) are sure to whet an eager appetite with generous portions. The main dishes are incredibly varied: Moosewood chefs crate meals that reflect world travels and diverse cultural backgrounds. For example, Not Fried Trout ($18.50) is served with kale andcreamy mashed potatoes, but the Greek Vegetable Pie ($15) comes with dilled feta-egg custard in “a seasoned rice, walnut and oil crust” and a salad of fresh fennel and orange. Caribbean Pineapple-Peanut Stew ($15) is simmered in a unique peanut butter sauce and is served with jerk tempeh. The Cheese Ravioli with roasted garlic-shallot butter ($15) was poorly seasoned but saved by the perfect fresh pasta and cheeses, whereas the Vegetable Pastitsio (a moussaka-like casserole with eggplant, lentils, and béchamel, $15.50) was excellent, if not a bit light on the eggplant. All of the salad dressings are made in-house. With different flavours to suit any palate it is difficult to choose, but the feta garlic and miso ginger are both winners. Lunch at Moosewood Restaurant For lunch, the soups hit the mark as creamy corn bisque plates and chilled beet borscht with optional sour cream (both $2.75 for a cup) were simple and fresh, highlighting the vegetables that star in each. On a Thursday afternoon, the kitchen ran out of the mildly spicy Zesty Chipotle Egg Pita sandwich ($5.75) not even halfway through lunch. The Multigrain Ciabatta ($6) had a winning texture, but needed the optional fresh mozzarella to add a little bit more flavour to the rather bland asparagus-nut pesto. Substantial lunch dishes like Spinach-Cheese Frittata ($8.75), Mexican Salad Plate ($8.50) and Curried Lentil Burger ($8.50) are also available. Dessert at MoosewoodRestaurant. The dessert menu doesn’t rotate as the dinner and lunch menus do, but it does offer a selection of dessert plates for sweet tooths of every size. The vegan fudge brownie was extra-chocolaty and rich.