Friday, June 19, 2009

It's Only Natural

It's been awhile since I've been to It's Only Natural, a vegetarian restaurant in Middletown, CT. I used to work there with Chef and owner, Mark Shadle, in the tiniest restaurant kitchen. It's amazing how they can pump out so many lush and gorgeous entrees in that cramped space, and they do it well.

I was pleasantly surprised to find two major changes to their menu. The first is that ION is now almost entirely vegan. For the longest time, they were still serving seafood on their Specials Menu even though they billed themselves as a vegetarian restaurant. This can be confusing for the uninitiated who seem to think fish and chicken are vegetarian (they're not).

[Occasionally, I had the unpleasant job of skinning the salmon fillets. I'd have to clip the fins with scissors and peel off that stubborn layer of skin with pliers. It was not fun. On the plus side, I'd usually bring home the skin for my dog to eat as a treat. She'd chew on it as if it was dental floss.]

The second change is that there was a raw vegan selection for soup, appetizer, entree and dessert. I'm always looking for ideas, and after all the cake I've been eating lately, I felt the need to go all health.

I tried the Collard Rolls Stuffed with Sage Pesto and Veggies, Corn Polenta and Sage Blossom Flax Seed Crackers. Overall, it was a delicious and satisfying plate, and fairly priced at $13. While the Collard Rolls could've used a little more flavorful pesto filling, the polenta and crackers were a nice balance of crisp/creamy, sweet/savory.

For dessert we shared a plate of very rich Cacao Truffles with Berry Coulis and Pickled Cherry. At $7, this was a little pricey, but one truffle was just the right amount of decadence to end the meal. I felt like we were dining in Santa Monica, on one of the rare sunny days we've seen this June.

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