Jason K. asks: I’m going on a date tonight with a girl who’s a vegetarian, while I’m an avid meat-eater. Where can I take her where we’ll both be satisfied, hopefully somewhere south of Midtown?
Dear Jason: Your problem is increasingly common these days, and I even get this question from married couples who have wildly different dietary preferences.
If you were an especially accommodating guy, I’d say just go to a vegetarian restaurant that has excellent food. Two Indian places in Curry Hill spring to mind: Chennai Garden (129 East 27th Street, 212-689-1999), offering both northern and southern Indian vegetarian specialties, and Vatan (409 Third Avenue, 212-689-5666), which offers an all-you-can-eat, prix-fixe menu of food from the westernmost Indian state of Gujarat, in a charming dining room that makes you feel like you’re eating in an Indian village.
But you sound like you might be the kind of guy who insists on meat at every meal — and you have as much right to your dining preferences as your date does. If this is the case, Italian restaurants are a good choice, since they evenhandedly offer both vegetarian and meat-bearing dishes side by side with no prejudice toward either. One of my favorites in the West Village is Malatesta (649 Washington Street, 347-281-6927), on a rather obscure corner of western Christopher Street, sporting a romantically dark dining room, decorated with covers of Italian pulp-fiction paperbacks. In the East Village, John’s of 12th Street (302 East 12th Street, 212-475-9531) is an ancient red-sauce place where she can enjoy ricotta-stuffed eggplant rollatini or cheese ravioli, while you can groove on spaghetti with meatballs or a piece of veal. Good luck on your date!