Thomas Jefferson often boasted of the bounty from his garden and once joked of his extreme love of vegetables by saying, “I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, and that not as an aliment, so much as a condiment for the vegetables which constitute my principal diet.” For that reason—we think he would wholeheartedly support the decision to expand the menus at our historic taverns!
We know that when you’re on vacation, one of the toughest decisions is settling on where to eat. With so many different palates, preferences, and in some cases dietary restrictions—finding a restaurant that accommodates the whole family can be a challenge. Our tavern chefs say—challenge accepted! Chefs from Chowning’s, King’s Arms, Shields, and Christiana Campbell’s are busy working to add fresh new vegetarian options to the historic area just in time for our busiest season.
Executive Chef of Colonial Williamsburg Rhys Lewis wants to get out the message: Colonial Williamsburg has dining options for everyone! That’s why he has personally challenged the chefs and managers at each tavern to experiment with fresh ingredients and develop satisfying vegetarian and gluten-free dishes that are packed with complex flavors. Lucky for us, we were included in one of their recent culinary brainstorming sessions.
From the moment we walked into the kitchen, it felt like an episode of Top Chef. An array of soups, salads, and entrees was spread out in front of us as all of the chefs lined up to explain the ingredients and inspiration behind their dishes. While my affinity for fresh herbs and vegetables has grown over the years, I am admittedly more of a steak and potatoes kind of girl. Therefore, big flavor moments for me tend to happen whenever bacon and scallops are involved. But I was honestly blown away by the intense flavor combinations our chefs showcased! From the hummus croquette to the stuffed collard greens to the butternut squash soup, each dish impressed us in a different way.
However, in our minds, there was definitely a clear front-runner. The above “veggie stack” included slices of eggplant, red tomato, crispy butternut squash, green tomato, and a bottom layer of Basmati rice. An amazing goat cheese spread was the glue that held this masterpiece together. Other fresh ingredients included celeriac root, garlic, purple rainbow carrots, and red lentils (for texture and protein). The heat from the vegetables melted through to give flavor with each bite and you could definitely catch the Indian influence with spices like turmeric and cumin. It was topped off with a tomato spinach sauce that added a nice pop of color to the final presentation.
While all of our taverns currently offer some vegetarian options, each will start offering weekly specials like these, starting April 1. Here’s a mouth-watering slideshow of all the dishes we sampled. I hope some of them make the cut so you get to try them too!
Tell us, would you like more vegetarian options on our tavern menus? What’s your favorite item to order when you visit us?