The Vegetarian Option: Longbow Pub & Pantry
A gray, raining evening may be the best time to stop by Longbow Pub & Pantry. The food is warm and filling, the service is friendly, and while this Bay Ridge bar may not be the most exciting restaurant in the city, it has a lot more vegetarian options than most British pubs.
I'm not normally a fan of portobello "burgers", as the large mushrooms tend to overpower everything else on the bun, but Longbow's portobello sliders ($8.50 for 2) are just the right size. They're topped with melted mozzarella as well as a tasty mix of sauteed onions and green peppers (and the requisite lettuce and tomato). One was plenty for me, so you should bring a friend and share. The sliders are served with Longbow's excellent chips, known on this side of the pond as french fries, which get even better when doused with the tableside malt vinegar.
Welsh rarebit ($6.50) is a British classic that just happens to be vegetarian. At Longbow two slices of bread are covered with cheddar cheese that's been melted down with beer and "spices". The spices in this case tasted a lot like spicy mustard, which would pair well with any of the beers on tap. Without the thick slices of bread the sauce would be a bit too rich and unctuous, but together they made a perfect match. The sprinkling of parsley adds a nice green color to an otherwise overwhelmingly brown dish, but adds nothing in the way of flavor. As with the sliders, one order is more than enough for one person.
The dish I was most looking forward to was the chip butty ($5.50), something I'd only read about before and hadn't seen on any menus here in the States. This traditional pub snack may sound a bit strange—it's a sandwich of chips on bread with butter. Unfortunately the butter was missing completely from the bread I was served, and so when eaten as a sandwich it was far too dry. I had to resort to pulling the chips back off of the bread and eating them with more of the malted vinegar.
Although bars, and British pubs in particular, are not known for their vegetarian food, you'll be happy with the choices at Longbow. Bring your friends with you, even if they're not vegetarians; they'll be happy with their shepherd's pie, or their bangers and mash, but you won't be left out. Share your portobellos and your Welsh rarebit with them, but hoard the chips for yourself.
Longbow Pub & Pantry
About the author: Howard Walfish is a Virginia native who has been living in New York since 2003. He is, in fact, a vegetarian, and is the co-founder of Brooklyn-based Eat to Blog and the creator of BrooklynVegetarian.