Menu Planning with a Carnivore and a Vegetarian

I have mentioned that I'm not a big meat eater many times before.  I don't have a problem with other people eating meat (hence cooking a bacon explosion for the Super Bowl every year), but I've had an aversion to eating it myself since I was fairly young.  I choked down lamb and negotiated how many bites I had to have when steak was served at home.  I can distinctly remember my first taste of my favorite vegetable, red bell pepper (I was four years old and it was "let's try all different kinds of veggies" day at nursery school).  For some reason, I'm just wired to prefer vegetables over meat. I'm not a strict vegetarian, so I'm happy to make Marc meatballs (out of ground turkey) and I won't freak out if there's some meat winds up on my plate when we're out to dinner.

Marc was raised by a woman he describes as Virginia's Paula Dean.  I personally think her food is far better than Dean's, but it's definitely rich, southern, and heavy on meat.  He is an enthusiastic carnivore, but bends over backwards to accommodate me.  When we go to beer dinners, he'll talk to chefs days in advance to see if they'll make me something different for meat courses.  It's totally unnecessary, as I won't go hungry if I can't eat part of a meal, but I think it's very sweet.

When Marc started talking about our rehearsal dinner, I was adamant that he truly take the reigns.  I wanted him to feel like it was the groom's family's event.  As he talked about different restaurants, I knew he was trying to keep my preferences in mind.  I knew he wanted to have the dinner at a local restaurant that is a temple to meat, Brookville.

That's pancakes, foie, bacon, and a quail egg on top  / Photo from Brookville's Facebook page

Brookville is a meat lover's paradise, a place where beef is celebrated and pork is elevated.  Marc quickly became a devoted fan of the restaurant when it opened over a year ago.  He didn't take me there for a long time, for fear of me not liking the menu, but would tell me about chef Harrison Keevil making him a fried pig tail or about having a burger that was made from ground beef and ground pork with an egg on top.

One day, I finally got to eat at Brookville and I loved it.  First of all, Harrison and his wife Jennifer, who manages the restaurant, are totally charming.  They clearly love each other, their restaurant, and their food.  You can't help but be excited waiting for your meal. Though the menu is heavy on meat, there were definitely options for me.  My favorite part: 90% of what they serve comes from farms that are within 100 miles of Charlottesville. 

Chef Harrison Keevil and Brookville manager Jennifer Keevil / Photo by Jen Fariello Photography

 A couple weeks later, we returned to look over menus from past private dinners and talk with Jennifer about our options. We were really interested in having mini versions of Harrison's famous grilled cheese (which was recently recognized by a magazine as one of the best gourmet grilled cheeses) as hors d'oeuves and I was touched that they offered to make some without meat. Both the carnivore and the vegetarian were happy.

Photo by Miss Mink

Now, we have to finalize our guest list for the rehearsal dinner.  We have to decide whether we're going to keep it traditional and invite our immediate families and bridal party or include extended family and some out of town guests. I'm attracted to the idea of an intimate dinner with our closest friends and family, but am also looking forward to spending some time with some some family we don't see very often.  I'm torn!

Did you have a traditional rehearsal dinner or use the event as a welcome party for a larger group?

By the way, Harrison and Jennifer were married just a few months ago.  You can see beautiful images from their wedding on Jen Fariello's blog (scroll down to the "Jennifer and Harrison" entry).  If you like brooch bouquets, you have to see the one Jennifer carried.  It's stunning!


  1. I vote if you can swing it to have more the merrier.  This time is precious and you'll look back being thankful you shared with more.

  2. We have a dear friend who had a similar problem and solved it beautifully: she had her small, intimate rehearsal dinner and immediately afterwards her aunt and uncle hosted a lovely dessert, coffee, and spirits after-party at their home that all out-of-town guests were invited to attend.  Another plus: many of the array of desserts that evening were family recipes (from both the bride and groom's sides) and made for great conversation! 


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