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Cyrus Restaurant: Vegetarian Menu

Author: | posted 02/8/09 | Print This Post Print This Post |

Cyrus Healdsburg vegetarian menu
The revolution will be veget-ized.

Following in the footsteps of the French Laundry and an increasing demand for haute herbivore dining, Michelin-rated Cyrus restaurant in Healdsburg has recently unveiled five and eight course vegetarian tasting menus, prominently showcased next to their regular tasting menu — charging the exact same price for both ($130 for eight courses, $102 for five).

Huh? Because for a whole lot of folks shelling out a fist-full of cash for a once-in-a-blue-moon destination dinner, the idea of missing out on foie gras, duck, lobster and (sniff) Waygu beef is, well, treason. If not worse. Seriously? Cauliflower soup over Thai-marinated lobster. Uh, right.

Cyrus Healdsburg tofu vegetarian menuBut not everyone sees it that way. An increasing number of high-end diners want critter-free eats for health, environmental and personal reasons. Keane says on a typical night the restaurant would get five or more diners wanting a meatless option to his carefully crafted omnivore menu. So he’d cobble together something — whatever he could adapt on the fly — and serve it. Not happily. Exacting in his process, Keane wanted his vegetable-only courses to have the same gravitas as his other dishes, and shooting from the hip each night was difficult for the kitchen staff to effectively manage.

In January 2009 the restaurant announced a vegetarian tasting option as one of two prix fixe menus. A la carte service has been discontinued entirely (yup). Diners can cross over between the two tasting menus at will.

Though it’s a change, it’s not quite the leap into the unknown one might think. Keane’s classic French cooking is studded with Japanese ingredients and flavors that lend themselves easily to plant-based dishes. His use of his farm’s own fresh produce and eggs, along with copious amounts of cream and butter make the meatless menu just as complete and impressive as the regular menu.

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Even BiteClub started drinking the Kool Aid. Not at first, but taste by taste of the clean, earthy and wild flavors of Keane’s winter vegetarian menu.  While I hadn’t really given the veggie-version much of a second thought while doing the grand-tasting a few weeks ago (cha, right!), curiosity got the best of me while photographing the vegetarian menu.

These aren’t steamed veggies and tofu. Okay, in fact, they are, but in dressed a whole lot fancier. Keane uses the same sous-vide (a sort of slow poach in plastic bags) techniques, table side preparations, foams, complex flavor profiles and far-flung ingredients used on the regular menu. For example, a Japanese brine that coagulates his house-made soy milk into tofu in less than five minutes. While you watch.

The current menu includes cauliflower soup with capers and raisins; roasted beets with goat cheese, arugula and pistachios; a poached egg with Hijiki noodles, pickled Honshimiji mushrooms and sea stock; tofu with Kombu (kelp) scallions and yuzu; truffled red wine risotto with parmesan broth; verjus sorbet with quince Riesling soup (with crystallized picholine olives) and a dessert combination of tiramisu, a cappuccino filled orb surrounded by foam, caramelized fennel and espresso gelato.

So why are veggies the same price as the meatier menu? Keane says that the preparation involved is the same, if not more intense, for the vegetarian dishes as the standard menu. Which makes sense when you think about it. You’re paying for food as art. Not by the pound.

Compared side-by-side, there are actually dishes that I preferred on the vegetarian menu for their uncompromised flavors and careful preparation: the creamy poached egg and noodles for one, and the heart-breakingly good risotto.

Change can be a good thing. After experiencing the talents of Keane and those of Ubuntu, there’s no doubt that meatless dining can be miraculous. Just don’t take away my foie gras yet. Please.

Cyrus Restaurant, 29 North St., Healdburg, 707.433.3311. Make a reservation.

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18 Responses

  1. mara December 16, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    I had the 5 course vegetarian menu and it was awful! Especially at those prices and with all the hype. Overrated culinary gymnastics and mediocre at best. The bread was dry, the porcini pie was flavorless. I could have done better and have no professional training.

  2. Jason October 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    Home Cooking? By definition, you should be eating that at home. When we want somebody else to cook, that’s when we eat in a restaurant.

  3. Igor August 27, 2009 at 2:42 pm #

    Will somebody in Healdsburg please open up a restaurant that is based upon good home cooking.

  4. mary smith April 29, 2009 at 2:29 pm #

    This sounds so good to a vegetarian such as myself, but I don’t want to spend 400+ dollars for 2 people if the portions are tiny… any other recommendations for a good veg dinner in the area?

  5. Jay February 11, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    Sounds lacto-ovo vegetarian to me. It is a nice option though. Hopefully there will be a vegetarian (no eggs or dairy) option in the near future.

  6. Jay February 11, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    Sounds lacto-ovo vegetarian to me. It is a nice option though. Hopefully there will be a vegetarian (no eggs or dairy) option in the near future.

  7. doug February 10, 2009 at 3:20 pm #

    As a vegan chef its good to hear that restaurants are understanding that corpses on plates with a red wine sauce aren’t the only way to experience fine dining. Way to go and try experimenting with other milks besides cow….

  8. terbo February 10, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    Lets see, $20.00 per course for 5 course tasting. each course approximately 3 ounces.I hope we get a massage with it.

  9. clark meyer February 10, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    Wow! I’m so impressed. Seems to me that the true test of a great chef is to experience his/her vegetarian offerings. It’s easy to throw some blanched vegetables on a plate and call it the vegetarian offering…. It’s not so easy to create beautiful, tasteful and satisfying courses of vegetables. I’ve left the most recognized restaurant in San Francisco feeling hungry and totally dissatisfied. Not so at Cyrus. Yum.

  10. goodinuf February 10, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Can Cyrus to vegan, that would be a real challenge.

  11. Terri February 10, 2009 at 5:32 am #

    I hope it tastes better than it looks.

  12. jenna February 9, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    While Cyrus is truly decadent… and like the Cirque du Soleil of the more numerous country-fair-type local eats… I’m proud of restaurants in general for supporting their vegetable loving patrons. Have you tried a macro bowl from Peter Lowell’s in Sebastopol? Confusing place, get your own silverware, but YUM on the kale/rice/tofu/miso level.

  13. calast February 9, 2009 at 8:30 pm #

    Well, foam is one of those things that just has to be experienced to understand it. I had it as part of a tasting menu at Madrona Manor, and my reaction was that it was about the most intense concentration of flavor (asparagus, I think) that I’d ever had in my mouth. No substance to it at all, of course, so it’s not exactly filling. You’re not going to serve it as main course for Sunday dinner, but it’s not as weird as it sounds. Worth trying as part of a complicated meal, and if you don’t like it you can always avoid it in the future. I wouldn’t drive across town just to have some. But if it showed up on my plate I would definitely eat it – and probably like it, based on past experience.

  14. Anne February 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    I don’t want to watch anything coagulate in front of me right before I eat it and that whole foam thing just doesn’t set right with my stomach. I’ll stick the the other menus.

  15. Wojamo February 9, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    I know it’s super “chic” right now, but I’m just not digging the whole “foam” movement. Seeing foam on my plate wouldn’t conjure up nice imagines, I don’t think- and I don’t think I could handle eating it, either.

  16. bill February 9, 2009 at 8:00 am #

    This is truly elegant dining. Why can’t we find fine vegetarian cuisine at reasonable prices?

  17. Marilyn February 9, 2009 at 12:13 am #

    My husband and I celebrated our recent anniversary with dinner at Cyrus. He had the vegetarian tasting menu which I tasted most of and it was outstanding. It was as satisfying as their omnivore tasting. Yes, outrageously expensive but the food, wine (do order a wine pairing), and service are excellent.

  18. Evelyn February 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm #

    The vegetarian dishes look yummy! My husband and I went to Cyrus a year or two ago and had their regular tasting dinner, along with addition of mid-priced caviar, champagne, and wine with dinner. While it was truly divine, never have we paid so much for so little food.

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