I'm not really interested in picking on other critics, but this review of the lovely Lola's South City Bakery in today's P-I brought up a cliche that I've encountered in a slew of reviews over the years: Omnivores praising vegetarian restaurants for not seeming judgmental or, in Kristen Millares Young's phrase, "uppity."
Um, have any of you been to a vegetarian restaurant that gave you attitude if they smelled the beef tallow on you? I haven't, not even at vegan or raw-foods restaurants. Most of the veggie restaurants in Seattle I go to are filled with diners who are excited about being able to order off the entire menu and staff who are delighted to oblige them. (Side note: Seattle does crack me up in that I've never met so many "vegetarians" who eat seafood. I have no complaints -- our seafood is some of the freshest in the country, and it makes dining out together easier. I was taken aback the time I had dinner with a woman who told me she was "vegan" even as she was spooning a mess of of jellyfish salad onto her plate. And yes, she knew it was no plant.)
While most of us food critics take it for granted that animal-rights activists are going to lodge ridiculously overinflated protests any time we write about meat production, they're such a small subset of the vegetarian population. Do I catch a whiff of satisfaction from some of my veggie friends when a new report touts the ecological/economic/health benefits of eating no meat? Sometimes. But I haven't been lectured about the evils of bacon since my junior year in college.
By contrast, it's ridiculous how often I still end up in restaurants with vegetarian friends whose attempts to work with a waiter or cook to figure out what they can order evince antagonism or condescending indifference from the staff. One of my (strict) vegetarian friends says it's gotten even worse since the publication of Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, which convinced many omnivores (like me) that they could eat meat and feel ethical about it.