With a name like Zydeco, your first thought is probably not, "Sounds like a great place for vegetarians." If you're like me, your first thought is probably, "I need to Google that word to find out what it means." After which you probably think, "Mmm, down-home Southern cooking."
And Zydeco does have great Southern-inspired dishes, like the shrimp etouffee or the jambalaya. But it also has some tasty vegetarian options, like the Creole smoked tofu, and, of course, vegetarian shepherd's pie. And when my parents took me there for dinner - I'm not too proud to admit it - that's what I ordered.
It looked identical to every other meat-drenched shepherd's pie I'd seen. But I knew it was different. I knew there wouldn't be a single piece of meat lurking in the shadows of that tantalizing mashed-potato top. But that's when I got nervous.
You see, as a vegetarian, you get used to trying really "creative" and "interesting" non-meat versions of meat dishes. And you get used to them being, in general, bad. (Turns out meat is in stuff for a reason. Apparently it makes things taste good?)
Fortunately, the shepherd's pie at Zydeco avoids this tragic fate.
The pie gets off on the right food with a delicious "crust" of creamy mashed potatoes baked to a perfect golden brown. But we all know you can put mashed potatoes on pretty much anything (and I do) and it will work, so it's really what's inside that counts.
The filling contains nothing pretending to be meat. This shepherd's pie is packed with vegetables: peas, carrots and mushrooms (not portabella, thank you very much). They are stewed in a rich, savory (without being overly salty) sauce that could make even the meatiest meat eaters forget they're dining solely on vegetables.
Now, if you're not made out of money, and most of us aren't, you're probably not going to be popping in every Wednesday for your hump-day shepherd's pie. But when you are in the mood for a fantastic dinner out, Zydeco, is, as it turns out, a great place for vegetarians. And one that serves the best shepherd's pie this vegetarian has ever eaten.