Best Vegetarian Meal Not on the Menu

Benton's Steak & Chop House

All vegetarians will face the inevitable: It's a friend's birthday or other special occasion, and that person is a meat eater with a hankerin' for steak. Traditionally, herbivores in this situation have gone along to the steakhouse and faked a smile while ordering the side salad and a dry baked potato. A quick glance at the menu makes Benton's Steak & Chop House appear to be that sort of unfriendly territory for vegetarians. But a discreet conference with a server reveals that the chefs at Benton's enjoy a challenge and will happily to whip up a vegetable plate. And this is no ordinary vegetable plate -- it varies according to what's in season (and the chef's whims). On one occasion, it featured a mound of shiitake mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, delicate spinach sizzled with garlic, slender baby carrots tied together elegantly in a bunch, steamed shoestring asparagus and a giant baked potato. Accompanied by a glass of smoky, intense house Merlot, it was an unusually satisfying meal. And the view isn't bad, either, except for all those steaks.

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