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Celebratory Dinner: Shoeless and Sitting on the Floor

August 27, 2009

Ah, children.

Without them, we’d live such normal lives, wouldn’t we?

Enter the previously-posted-about vegetarian teenage daughter. Tomorrow is her 15th birthday, which is strange because I just don’t feel all that old… But I digress.

So we had the annual birthday dinner at the restaurant of her choice. When first presented with the option, she said she wanted to go to Red Robin. Yep, the chain burger place at the mall. I have nothing against the bird, in fact their zucchini sticks are pretty dang good, but I sort of had to call her out on that. I mean, she always subs a Boca patty for the meat, but she’s in a club to push local and organic ingredients at her school. C’mon!

We did a little research and decided upon Govinda’s at the Hare Krishna temple. It’s a 100% vegetarian buffet, and I wasn’t entirely sure how thrilled I was about the choice. I’ve been there a couple of times, but those visits were probably 10 years ago (or more…). Plus, I was a vegetarian myself at the time (for a total of 8 or 9 years, I think), and really dug it. Now, though, I like me some bacon.

Before I go any further, I’m going to say straight up that the food was really pretty good (with a couple of exceptions). My expectations were a little low, but I walked away full and having tried a few things I wouldn’t have expected.

It was the ambience that was really sort of surreal. The grounds are nice – there are two aviaries, one with parrots, one with peacocks and…. chickens? I’m not an ornithologist, so I couldn’t say for sure. There’s also a koi pond with some of the biggest examples of those fishies that I’ve ever seen.

To get into the restaurant, you walk through the two-room gift shop and up to the host. You pay for your buffets (8.95 for adults and 4.00 for my 12yo), drinks ($1.50ish), and any add-ons (whole wheat spinach tofu samosas $1.50). Then you get your paper plates and dixie cups (I’m not kidding) and load yourself up. And whatever you do, don’t forget to grab a tray. I wasn’t sure if the host was trying to be nice by insisting that I take one, or if I was being reprimanded for not having one.

As for the food, the salad bar veggies were really good, not too many choices, but what was there was very fresh and tasty. There were several kinds of dressings including cashew (slightly sweet with a not-surprising nuttiness) and one that was miso-based. The entrees were a chickpea ball in a sesame sauce and some very mushy ratatouille. Side dished included steamed veggies, two kinds of rice, and a curried rotini pasta dish with tofu. Oddly enough, I thought that was the best thing on the whole buffet.

Then there was the seating. They have two rooms: one with tables and chairs where you keep your shoes on, and one where you take your shoes off and sit on the floor. Can you guess which one Emily chose? If you read the title of this post, you probably can.

I have never been a floor-sitter. Even when I was in my teens I found sitting on the floor to be uncomfortable at best. But, being an awesome papa and a darned good sport, I went with it. I think the net result was that I took one less trip to the buffet because I didn’t want to have to go through the process to getting up and down again. Did I say earlier that I don’t feel that old? I rescind that statement.

I suppose that the take-home message is this: the food was pretty good – even some of the things I was a little leery of, but the ambience was a little bizarre for me. Maybe had we been sitting in the room with chairs or if I didn’t have to go back throught the buffet line in my socks it wouldn’t have felt that way.

The good thing was that Emily loved it, and it wasn’t about the quality of the food, or the presents* or the unusual seating arrangements. It was about her feeling that she made a strong choice for herself and her ideals, and got to share it with her family. I’ll sit on the floor anytime for that.

Well, it might have had the tiniest bit to do with the presents.

-TFD
* Speaking of the presents she absolutely loved the Twilight-themed bracelet that I got from @kismet1990 on Twitter. Her shop is here: bit.ly/19xbPl and she’s a pleasure to work with.

Second note: regarding the picture with the post – it’s not about Em (even though she’s super cute!), but about the surroundings. You can get a feel for the room we were in, including the Christmas garlands and ornaments to the right of Emily’s neck. Who knew that the Hare Krishna’s celebrated Christmas? And in August, even!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer permalink
    August 27, 2009 9:19 pm

    Wow- I didn't even know Tucson had a Hare Krishna temple- I'll have to check it out sometime!

  2. Kevin permalink
    August 29, 2009 4:50 pm

    Hi Jennifer – You should, it's kinda cool!

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