While I was in Upstate NY for my annual family vacation, I talked my parents into driving nearly 3-hours each way to take me to Moosewood, an iconic pesce-vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, NY.

A pioneer in creative, vegetarian cooking, the restaurant has been open (and in the same location) since 1973. The restaurant is owned by a “collective” of about 20 individuals and the The Moosewood Collective has published a dozen cookbooks full of the restaurant’s recipes.  Additionally, the restaurant has a line of refrigerated soups and frozen dinners available around the country.

 

While she is no longer affiliated with the restaurant, Mollie Katzen is the most famous alumnus of the Moosewood Collective.  Mollie has also published more than a dozen cookbooks, including her Moosewood Cookbook which in my opinion is a must-have book!  I remember making the Eggplant-Almond Enchiladas from this book for my parents as a teenager, when learning to cook. The Moosewood Cookbook is loaded with creative, delicious recipes.

 

The restaurant’s history and accomplishments were enough to motivate me to make the drive, but my parents needed further encouragement.  Thankfully, the finger-lakes region of Upstate NY is beautiful, full of wineries and scenic viewing areas, and Ithaca has a lot of charm.  I also am very good at begging and told them this could count as my birthday dinner (3 months early). Whatever the reason, my parents agreed to go along with Mike & I to Moosewood.

Read on to see if it was worth the drive…

The menu at Moosewood changes every day as the chefs are constantly experimenting with new recipes and also draw from the hundreds of recipes published in the restaurant’s cookbooks.  The menu even highlights which cookbook an item can be found in!  We found the menu to be a bit short, but were all able to find something to meet our tastes.

I started with a refreshing glass of their lemon-ginger tea which is served hot or cold.  The lemon & ginger flavors were very strong so it might be off-putting to some but it was exactly what I wanted.  The iced coffee there was also exceptionally good.

I started with a bowl of the North African Vegetable soup, which was fantastic. I loved the generous chunks of tomatoes and summer squash and the hint of cinnamon and spices.

Each entree also came with a side salad and our choice of dressing.  The house creamy basil & spinach dressing was light, sweet, and refreshing.

We ordered a bread basket for the table and were very pleased with the hearty, crusty bread.

We each ordered different entrees and shared tastes of each of them.  I had the East-West Stuffed Pepper, which had a gingery tofu-peanut filling and a sweet and sour sauce.  My mom had the Dixie Burger, which we thought was tasty but was not described well on the menu.  It wasn’t on a bun, like she had expected, nor was it “burger” like.  It was essentially a well-seasoned mash of beans.

Mike had the Italian Frittata, which was full of flavor from a generous quantity of goat cheese.  As an added bonus, Mike didn’t even realize that the greens inside of it were kale, not spinach.  My favorite dish at the table was my Dad’s order of Chilaquili Casserole, a generous serving of black-beans, corn tortillas, and veggies with a hint lime.

Although we were full, for the sake of the blog (wink, wink), we ordered two desserts to share.  We had the Vegan Apple-Blueberry Crumble and the Carrot Cake and were pleased with our choices.

The Verdict

So, was this worth the 3-hours each way we spent in the car?  While it’s a worthy stop if you’re already out exploring the Finger Lakes region, it’s otherwise probably not worth the trek.

While we thoroughly enjoyed everything we ordered, the meal wasn’t anything revolutionary.  However, the restaurant is exactly what it promises to be – a place that “feeds you well and treats you well” so much so that it feels like you’re eating at home, and in fact, you can be, armed with one of the Moosewood Collective’s highly acclaimed cookbooks or their sample recipes online.

Have you ever heard of the Moosewood Restaurant or Cookbooks?

Is there any iconic restaurant you really want to try?

What’s the furthest you’ve ever traveled for the sake of food?