For a poor college student, French cuisine, with its foie gras and filet mignon, can really take a toll on one’s wallet, especially when paying for two. Furthermore, French food, like the foie gras and filet mignon stated above, are typically for the carnivorous diner. Rarely do we find French vegetarian foods so make sure that when you take a vegetarian out to a date that she doesn’t end up eating just a baguette. However, not all French cuisine needs to be expensive or meaty. I recently found a nice restaurant called Brasserie Montiel that was very affordable and surprisingly offered many vegetarian dishes.
Brasserie Montiel is a French restaurant in Charlottesville, and only about a 5 minute drive west of the UVA campus. With miniature candles illuminating every table and soft violin music playing in the background, their relaxed atmosphere is very conducive to conversation. In addition to the wide selection of vegetarian entrees, Brasserie Montiel also offers many mouth-watering vegetarian appetizers ideal for sharing. So for about $10-15 dollars per person, you can enjoy a romantic dinner with your significant other.
Brasserie Montiel offers more vegetarian appetizers and entrees than an average French restaurant in Charlottesville. There are different menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, each with a variety of options for vegetarians. In the dinner section, the appetizers include dishes like the Baked Brie Cheese and Berries, Asparagus Baked Fig and Berry Compote. For my visit, I ordered an Eggplant, Portobello Mushroom, Seitan Moussaka as my entrée and a Wild Berry Medley and Grand Marnier Sabayon for dessert.
I was surprised to find Seitan in my food because it isn’t typically served in French cooking. Seitan, wheat gluten used as imitation meat, has a sort of spongy, doughy taste to it. Typically eaten by Buddhist monks on a strict vegetarian diet, I felt appreciated that the chef’s consideration to vegetarians.
The sabayon was also delicious. Sabayon is a very light, fluffy custard-like dessert, made of egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine. My sabayon had a tinge of citrus as it melted in my mouth and balanced perfectly with the fresh, juicy berry medley of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.
Eating the freshly baked bread that Brasserie Montiel served on the house reminded me of the infamous words of the female Chef, Collette , from Disney’s Ratatouille, “How can you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the sound of the crust. Listen. [Bread crackles] Oh, symphony of crackle. Only great bread sound this way.” At Brasserie Montiel, the warm baguette crust crackled as I tore it apart and dipped it into the light, fluffy butter and the olive oil dressing. I felt like I was in France, sitting on the streets of Paris underneath an oversized red umbrella enjoying a meal outside on a warm summer’s day.
Sounds exquisite, oui? Your date will thing so, but your wallet will thank you.
Celery rating: 8/10
Quality of food: 8/10