March 7-13, 2007

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Silicon Veggie - Elisa Camahort

Silicon Veggie

Mindful Eating At Tanglewood

By Elisa Camahort

THERE'S a food movement gathering steam and getting a lot of press lately: "mindful" or "ethical" eating. The movement isn't new. Alice Waters may have kicked it off back when she opened Chez Panisse in 1971. It's gaining ground, helped in part by the strength of the work of local author Michael Pollan, who wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma. There are even websites, such as, devoted to highlighting foods that are, in their words, S.O.L.E. foods—sustainable, organic, local and ethical.

You'll note that "vegetarian" isn't a criterion for any of the above. Do I wish that "ethical eating" focused more on the ethics of eating meat, even grass-fed, romping-in-the-California-sun meat? Definitely. But would I rather people made the effort to eat S.O.L.E. foods rather than not thinking about the food they eat at all? Definitely.

Santana Row's Tanglewood is one of the few Silicon Valley restaurants that fits the mindful eating category. It features, per its website, "a menu that celebrates the rich diversity of nature, offering only the day's best seasonal ingredients, grown and raised on small, local sustainable farms, ranches and fisheries."

Tanglewood is also a beautiful, upscale restaurant, featuring dark woods, romantic lighting and attentive service. It obliterates any notion that a restaurant serving organic foods must be of the crunchy granola variety. Both times I dined there the atmosphere and service was conducive to a long evening and lively conversation.

How does Tanglewood treat vegetarians, among the most mindful eaters around? In a limited but high quality fashion. Similar to any steakhouse in the Bay Area, it's pretty easy to build your vegetarian order at Tanglewood. Both times I dined there, there was one vegetarian entree on the menu. The same entree: spaghetti squash with no-meatballs. On the plus side, Tanglewood happily altered the vegetarian dish to vegan and even had ingredients like soy cheese on hand to do so! The dish was creative, hearty and tasty. The downside? Having eaten it twice in six weeks I'm not sure I need to go to Tanglewood again until the seasons change and they have something new to offer me. With so much focus on our local, bountiful harvest, I think Tanglewood could add just one more vegetarian dish to their menu.

Tanglewood is part of a welcome trend. I'll be checking back in as the seasons change to see what new dishes make it to the menu.


Address: 334 Santana Row, San Jose

Phone: 408.244.0464

Hours: 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30-11pm daily

Cuisine: American

Price Range: $16-$37.

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