The Short and Skinny
Classic upscale dining goes vegan-friendly at downtown’s The Westgate Room.
The ebbing of comfort happened slowly. Restaurants abandoned their carpet and decorum chasing the changing trends of luxury. Today’s high end dining room’s shimmer in concrete and stone with little regard for acoustic relief. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
A dampened hush falls over guests at The Westgate Room, capturing the presences of the space. The scenes soften with lush drapes, crisp white tablecloths, and sage green velour banquet. Plup peach roses and puffy green ball flowers keep a low profile next to frosted glass votives. Above, crystal chandeliers refract warm, glittery, light—a marked relieved from the harsh shadows of bare bulbs and minimalist fixtures. All these elements play to the calm and comfort of patrons.
The classic luxury of the space roll right into the service. Polished yet friendly, a tight wait staff sweeps through the room of tourist, couples, familys, and gossiping circles of old friends. In a business based on the hospitality, Executive Chef Fabrice Hardel couldn't bare the thought of his vegan guests—a growing population of service—leaving a meal at the Westgate unsatiated. So he added vegan dishes to the dining room menu flush with the same elegance as the menu on a whole.
A platter of breads appears at the opening of dinner. A small dish of seasoned olive oil spiked with the sundried tomato umami and the salty brine of green olives wait for knobs of wheat and ciabatta. You won’t even miss the butter.
The soup and salad course offers one of each—both of which can be modified vegan.
The menu meanders through French-inspired dishes, skipping to the southern border to find a Butternut Squash Vegan Ravioli. The soft dough comes stuffed with portobello mushrooms which ring-around sauteed spinach in a puddle of coconut milk cream. A housemade vegan parm is grated over the top until you say when.
The stand out dish is the lunch only Pulled "Pork" Sandwich. Hunks of soy-based "pork" come braised in a sweet and smoky BBQ sauce and seeped in the tang of vinegar.
Served on a provencal bagnat—a medium firm bun common along the Mediterranean coast of France—stuffed with a crunchy pickled napa slaw. On the side, a fireworks display of shoestring fries piled high in a coppertone wire basket along with a kosher dill spear.
What to Order
Toasted corn runs through the tomato and vegetable broth body of the Traditional Tortilla Soup ($9). Ribbons of smokey guajillo chili crown the top of the bowl (hold the chicken and cheese).
Crunchy petals of young endives and red leaf lettuce unfurled into the Artisan Salad ($10). Fished with sliced poached pear and candied walnuts in a creamy—but vegan—balsamic vinaigrette (hold the cheese).
Piled high with mock meat and sauce, the Vegan Pulled Pork ($16) is a picture perfect lunch.
No one should have to skip dessert at a French restaurant—including vegan and gluten-free guests. The Westgate Room’s menu offers two options: a Bittersweet Chocolate and Almond Mousse with comice pear sorbet and almond pear macaroon ($11) or a Seasonal Trio of Sorbets ($9) served drizzled with passion fruit caramel sauce and fresh berries.
Pro Tip: Bring your favorite people as the only distractions you’ll find in this space are each other.
The Westgate Hotel, 1055 Second Avenue, Downtown San Diego
Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 6:30am-9pm; Friday and Saturday, 6:30am-10pm