Meatless Mondays originated during the First World War as a way to ration food needed for the army. Almost a century later, the idea is back in force, but this time it’s gaining traction for its health benefits. It’s good for the planet, too (one mystifying statistic suggests that the oil saved could fuel more than a million trips to the moon). More compelling, however, is that going meatless one day a week reduces the risk of getting cancer, heart disease, and other scary ailments.
At Swoon Kitchenbar, locavore chef Jeffrey Gimmel started creating four-course Meatless Monday menus about two years ago. “We’re a very carnivorous place,” remarks Gimmel, who makes his own charcuterie, sausages, pates, terrines and such. “But the farms were just starting up, and we said, ‘Look what beautiful things we can do with what’s grown locally — the center of the plate doesn’t have to be a big hunk of meat.’ ”
Gimmel’s menu changes every week, based (like his regular menu) on what’s in season. You might get a white asparagus salad or split pea soup to start, then perhaps roasted fennel with toasted bread crumbs, followed by a mushroom risotto or spaghettini. Then, feeling all virtuous and “not bloated and stuffed,” as he puts it, you can choose any of Nina Gimmel’s heavenly desserts to reward yourself for being so good. Vegetarians love it, of course, and at a fixed price of $29.95, it suits those on a budget, too.
“It’s a lavish way to eat on a Monday, but at the same time a healthy way,” Gimmel observes. “You can treat yourself to an extravagant meal and there’s no guilt because it’s all good for you.”
Swoon recently got an interior update: The heavy drapes are gone, and the walls are now a soothing light gray. Nina’s gorgeous flower arrangements remain a fixture, while a big, reclaimed barn-wood divider serves as a reminder there are farms nearby. In all, it’s a convivial, neighborhood place to brighten up the dreariest day of the week and get your veggie fix at the same time.