I recently had an opportunity to eat at a Country Club: The Pinery in Parker, Colorado to be specific. This was my first Country Club meal and I was interested to see how vegan friendly The Pinery was. The answer? Not very. The menu is vegetarian friendly but cheese and/or eggs were rather difficult to avoid. The decor is beautiful; tasteful and elegant. The waitstaff is among the friendliest I’ve ever experienced but of vegan options there were not many. I was at the club for a full day so ate both lunch and dinner there. With both of these meals, I exhausted the vegan options.
I’ve learned a vegan has to be careful, ask questions, and not assume just because something on the menu sounds vegan it is. For example, The Pinery’s menu had fried green beans with a wasabi dipping sauce listed in the appetizer section. But, experience has taught me to ask; what is used in the batter on these green beans? Eggs. Extrapolating from that data, I postulated the onion ring batter would also contain eggs and the onion ring dipping sauce would contain mayonnaise. Both assumptions were proved to be correct. A deeper perusal of the menu found a kale salad with quinoa, garbanzo beans, and beets; easily made vegan by leaving off the feta cheese. I also found eggplant crepes (stuffed with cheese), spinach dip (cheese), and bruschetta with burratta (cheese). For lunch, I decided on the kale salad and the kitchen kindly left off the feta cheese. I have no complaints with the salad. The kale was fresh, it was loaded with quinoa and beans (for all you protein aficionados out there), and the golden beets were a colorful and delicious addition.
When it came time for dinner, I felt I’d considered and discarded most of the vegetarian entree options because of the amount of cheese in them and ordered from the appetizer menu. Fortunately, The Pinery serves a hummus plate. My hummus came with fresh carrots, crispy celery, and triangles of soft pita bread. I also ordered the house-made chips with fire roasted tomato salsa. And thus, a meal is born.
I can’t say enough good things about the salsa. The fire-roasted tomatoes added a smoky flavor, jalapeño peppers added tongue tingling spice, and fresh cilantro cooled the burn down. The chips were warm, crispy, and the light touch of salt was perfect. Chips, salsa, hummus, veggies, and pita bread: not a bad meal though I say it myself.
My Country Club experience was interesting and I thought it valuable. It was a good opportunity to check out a different menu and the meals were not ones I had to pay for. Free-for me-meals? No complaints here. I am glad to get back into my kitchen with my one pot grain, bean, and veggie stews. Peasant food it may be but it’s hearty, healthy, and filling. And, while I like it and am grateful for it, I think I’m ready for a break from hummus.