The Vegetarian Nosh at Tonto Bar & Grill graduates veg-heads from the sides menu to the main.
About 15 years ago, Tonto Bar & Grill owner Eric Flatt noticed that his vegetarian customers often resorted to ordering dinner from the sides menu – making do with a hodgepodge of green beans, mashed potatoes and the like. To restore their culinary dignity, he created the Vegetarian Nosh ($18.50), an entrée that allows diners to mix and match ingredients – any combination of five vegetables and starches plus one sauce.
The vegetables change several times a year, but at press time Flatt offers grilled asparagus, baked spaghetti squash with bits of fresh spinach, green beans, herbed carrots and broccolini mixed with house-preserved oranges. Many of the vegetables are sautéed in rice bran oil. “It’s the healthiest oil in the world, and really clean tasting. We use it for everything,” he says.
Flatt’s assortment of starches runs the gamut from nutty and aromatic Wehani sage rice to Manchego scalloped potatoes laced with cream, garlic and shallots. For adventurous tater-heads, he also offers cubes of oven-roasted sweet potato hash with fresh mesquite-grilled corn, green chiles, onions and cilantro. It’s hard to choose just one sauce from basil pesto cream, heirloom marinara, roasted garlic and honey jus, lemon caper butter and Meyer lemon-piñon nut butter, but you can add an extra for $3. The rich and smooth basil pesto cream and tart lemon sauce are top-notch, spoon-licking options – even for meat-eaters. “Every plate is different, and sometimes you just want something lighter,” Flatt says. “It’s really popular.”
Tonto Bar & Grill at Rancho Mañana
5736 E. Rancho Mañana Blvd., Cave Creek