Cyril's owner Sasha Davies isn't vegetarian, but she's decided to feature meat dishes as side dishes on her restaurant menus. Along with the new menu format, Cyril's now serves smaller meat portions with lower prices. Davies's is one of the more extreme responses to the rising prices of meat. Whether due to cost, environmental issues, or health, restaurants and chefs are reevaluating the role of the vegetable, and it's a real challenge. Let's face it: Most people consider food without meat a snack.
"The challenge is how to make vegetables taste like dinner," says Davies, who owns Cyril's with husband Michael Claypool, winemaker at Clay Pigeon urban winery (located onsite). At Cyril's, she's always highlighted fresh, local produce, but it took a couple still high on their engagement for her aha moment to come.
"This couple had just gotten engaged, and they came in [to Cyril's] to celebrate," Davies told Eater. "We had sausages on the menu as an a la carte item, because we had some left over from a private raclette party in the restaurant the night before." The couple ordered just sausages and sparkling, and that's when Davies thought, "Why not serve meat as a side? We do it for breakfast, why not for other meals?"
So far, the response has been mostly positive, says Davies, especially from customers who are willing to place their trust in a chef. The menu changes regularly, but depending on the night, you can now order a main course of Squash Curry with scarlet kabocha, Massaman-style curry, coconut rice, and condiments with a side of Duck Confit or Lamb Meatballs. Among the challenges for Davies is that tasty vegetable dishes require more work in the kitchen, but that's also what she says makes it fun. "Chefs work so hard they do what they love," says Davies. "As we get more into food as a culture, I hope people experiment with new vegetables, from spices to kaffir leaves."