The Vegetarian Option: Farro Salad at TWO
This chilled farro salad ($12) at TWO tastes even better than it looks and is just the right start to dinner on a balmy summer evening. Farro has become so trendy that it's appearing on in-room dining menus at middling hotels and salad bars in malls, but I don't mind one bit. As far as I'm concerned, the more widely available the low-gluten grain is the better.
The farro at TWO was some of the best-cooked I've had, tender but still firm in the middle, so it had the chewy texture I adore from this nutty grain. The roasted broccoli contrasted nicely with the acidity in the pickled cauliflower while spring onion and watermelon radish added a pungent kick and subtle crunchy sweetness to fill out the dish. The salad is tossed in a candy onion vinaigrette that brings the flavors together in what I thought was the best composed and executed dish of the dozen I tried at the West Town restaurant.
Admittedly, there aren't many vegetarian dishes on TWO's shared plates menu. Several dishes that are almost vegetarian (the spring bruschetta, ramp risotto and mixed green market salad) have a garnish of housemade bacon, which the kitchen is clearly proud of. However, the chefs are happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions and can easily leave the bacon off. Executive Chef Thomas Van Lente has even been known to create an entire separate menu for guests with dietary restrictions.