I was sorting through my options at the grille at Tamarack and not finding much when an attendant approached.
“If you need any help, let me know,” she said, cheerfully.
I raised my hand slowly, indicating that I had questions.
“I’m a vegan,” I told her.
She laughed. I was hilarious, but when I didn’t laugh with her, she asked, “Are you serious?”
“Yep,” I told her. “I’m a vegan, and I’m having some trouble figuring out what to get here.”
She stared at the menu, started looking, too, and began asking me the usual questions: Do you eat cheese? Do you eat eggs? Do you drink milk? What about fish?
I shook my head.
On its face, stopping at Tamarack for lunch sounded like such a good idea. I wanted to check for something that might be Virginia Diner peanuts (the best peanuts ever), take a look at the art (always, I’m looking for a story), and get a bite to eat. I was coming back from Virginia, hadn’t really had the heart to wade into a chain restaurant and try to find something that wasn’t a handful of iceberg lettuce sprinkled with Styrofoam-like carrot slivers.
Bon Apetit, loser. Want a plain baked potato and an ice water to go with that?
Dining out as a vegan can be rough, but Tamarack seemed promising.
With the artsy, tourist-y nature of the facility getting a reasonable vegan meal seemed like a pretty safe bet. While vegans probably don’t roll through every day, they’re bound to happen along occasionally. Surely, they had a black bean burger tucked away in the freezer, maybe a festive citrus salad with nuts or even grilled eggplant?
That would have been great, but nope.
What they had was a collection of sides, most of which looked like they were probably cooked with butter or pork or deep-fried. While I’m not overly fussy about meat contamination, I worked in restaurants enough to know that cross pollination between fryers is pretty common. I didn’t want cheese or chicken in my French fries –and also, I can get French fries at your better gas stations.
Dining out is supposed to be a little special. At least, dining out at someplace like Tamarack, I thought, was supposed to be special.
Finally, I said, “You know, I’m just going to go with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the Kids’ menu and maybe get a salad.”
Helpfully, she added that the vinaigrette was safe.
It wasn’t bad. The peanut butter was room temperature instead of ice cold and clotted. I got the sandwich on my choice of bread, which was wheat. The salad, while nothing to write home about, was at least a step up from the bagged and tagged stuff you see at your lower tier fast food places.
On the plus side, the fountain drinks came with free refills (I had two cokes), and the little restaurant was located just across the way for The Greenbrier store. I got some peanuts there. They weren’t as good as the Virginia Diner peanuts, but they were pretty good. I had a couple of handfuls of those with lunch, too, and found two artists I kind of want to write about.
So, not exactly a rousing success.
Meanwhile, I’ve heard great things about Sheetz. More later.