The high energy atmosphere of the Hard Rock Cafe outpost at Hollywood and Highland has a lot to recommend it: great drinks, a realistic wax Elton John on loan from Mme. Tussaud’s Wax Museum next door, and a buzzy scene – particularly on Halloween weekend – of birthday celebrants, families, tourists, and hipsters slightly out of their element. Add a friendly, fun staff, and now, a tasty vegetarian menu, and you might just want to rock out here more often.
In October, the chain tested a limited-time veg menu for National Vegetarian Month. In the LA area, the Hollywood Hard Rock is offering a tweaked version of the same menu to stay. In short: you no longer have to dine on just fries and onion rings here if you’re not a carnivore.
Our favorite item was the you-can’t-eat-just-one Cauliflower Wings, fried and fabulous breaded cauliflower that stands in very well indeed for conventional buffalo chicken wings. A close second: Ratatouille Flatbread, a crispy flatbread topped with grilled tomato, onions, zucchini, and eggplant, some romano and mozzarella, and garlic aioli.
Vegans have an option too, an aromatic Fennel, Beet & Orange Salad, with plenty of nice, thick fennel curls, roasted beets, orange, mint, cilantro, and spring greens in a nicely tart lime and cumin vinaigrette. Mint and fennel are a nice match.
The breaded cauliflower burger is a nice variation on a traditional veggie burger. Taking up a juicy position on a Brioche bun, you’ll find the patty itself to be a mix of well spiced cauliflower, egg, goat cheese,and garlic topped with Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aoli. And you can still have those Hard Rock fries as your side.
An additional salad – Pico de Callo Quinoa Arugula Salad features shaved brussel sprouts, spicy pecans, and Feta cheese. A larger portion of the ratatouille veggies that grace the flatbread are present in a Grilled Ratatouille Wrap dressed with Siracha mayo on a tortilla.
All these tasty dishes go quite well indeed with the drinks menu, which is extensive. For those eschewing alcohol, there’s the Wascally Wabbit, a mix of carrot, apple, and orange juice with ginger and Orgeat. The Very Veggie ‘Tini might please James Bond, a nice blend of cucumber, red onion, mint and lime juice shaken with Greek yogurt and Tito’s Vodka. Our favorites were the fresh-fruit drinks that come in their own collectible Mason jars. You turn in your glass and take a receipt to the gift shop emerging with a boxed excuse to try these drinks at home. Pineapple, mango, and apple versions with a variety of top flight alcohol components from tequila to rye whiskey are available. My personal favorites: the Blackberry Bramble made with fresh muddled blackberries, gin, peach puree, homemade lemonade and raspberry liqueur.; and the wonderfully fresh pineapple and rum.
And how can you beat the heady din and sense of fun at Hard Rock? We were there Halloween weekend, when costumed mermaids and super heroes sat at adjoining tables and the music was of course, nonstop. Fun to join the party with plenty of tasty veg items to munch and carefully curated craft cocktails to drink.
- Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke
So, veg diners, keep on rockin’ in the free world – Hard Rock definitely rocks out with fun, tasty, vegetarian fare.
The menu is currently available in the Los Angeles area at Hard Rock Hollywood, located right on the Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. Park in the Hollywood and Highland complex.