Menu Planning with a Carnivore and a Vegetarian

I have mentioned that I’m not a big meat eater before, but didn’t really go into detail. I don’t have a problem with other people eating meat, but I’ve had an aversion to eating it myself since I was fairly young. I choked down lamb at Easter 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 Mr. Mink meatballs (out of ground turkey) and I won’t freak out if some meat winds up on my plate when we’re out to dinner.

Mr. Mink 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 (remember, he works with craft breweries), 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 Mr. Mink 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. Mr. Mink 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’oeuvres 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 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? Are you or your FI a vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions? How is that being reflected in your wedding meals?

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!


Mrs. Mink

Charlottesville, Virginia
Wedding Date:
June 2012
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  1. doily Member
    doily 1734 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:47 pm

    We are doing the traditional immediate family and wedding party. Because even then, our guest list is 40 people, which is about a third of our wedding guest list! I must say, that despite being in the throes of a stomach flu, my mouth started watering at the picture of that food. I will have to put that on my list of places to stop when Mr. D and I are doing our trans-continental drive!

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    sweet_melissa81 from%2BTK, Guest @ 2:48 pm

    I personally think it’s polite to invite the “out of towners”, but at the same time you should do what you want.

  3. Member
    Papillon23 465 posts, Helper bee @ 2:49 pm

    Yay! I am a vegetarian, too! I will eat eggs and dairy, but even then I’m very picky about it. My mom and sister are also vegetarians…and on his side we have two gluten-fee eaters and one who cannot do spices! Ouch! It is great to see how understanding you and Mr. Mink are of each other’s tastes (pun mildly intended). That is what also gives me rest: so long as everyone works to get along, it will be alright!

  4. Member
    veggie_rachel 575 posts, Busy bee @ 2:50 pm

    That’s so great that your fiance is so flexible and considerate! I’m a vegetarian (the only one in my family or his) and my fiance is the same. It’s so nice that he’ll try things with me and go out of his way to make meals for us. I’m pretty sure his family thinks I only eat grass, so it’ll be interesting to see how we navigate the wedding/rehearsal menus to accommodate everyone. It’s amazing how veggie-friendly restaurants have become lately, so hopefully it won’t cause much drama!

  5. Member
    JuneBride2012 536 posts, Busy bee @ 2:51 pm

    I am dealing with the same dilemma! I would prefer an intimate rehearsal dinner with immediate family and the wedding party, but I would also love to do a welcome party type event. Having the rehearsal midday (followed by a luncheon) would allow for an evening welcome party, but I don’t know if the budget will allow for that. 😉

  6. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:58 pm

    @Miss Doily: You have to check out their Facebook album of dishes. As I flipped through it, I kept thinking that Harrison belongs on Top Chef.

    @sweet_melissa81 from%2BTK: It’s interesting…this wasn’t as common when I was younger as it is today. It seems like some rehearsal dinners are becoming mini-weddings. I’ve seen a Virginia floral designer post pictures from rehearsal dinners that were larger than my wedding…complete with her flowers decorating the space!

    @Papillon23: That’s a lot of diets to keep track of! I imagine that if we opened the discussion up to other allergies, it’d be eve more interesting.

    @veggie_rachel: Hee hee. I did get Mr. Mink into veggie burgers. He really loves a good black bean burger now. :)

    I agree…it’s fantastic that so many chefs are willing to accommodate different diets. I wasn’t even expecting our menu to be adapted. I was really touched that Brookville was happy to do it.

    @JuneBride2012: I keep going back and forth. I think Mr. Mink and I are just going to decide tonight and stick with our decision. I’ll be happy regardless of the final plan.

  7. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 3:03 pm

    This sounds like us; I generally dislike the taste (and texture) of meat and Mr. P can’t get enough of it (especially his Southern Mama’s cookin’), but we have enough overlap that we can usually agree on restaurants.
    We invited all out of towners to our rehearsal (which was super low key) because we wanted them to know how grateful we were that they made the journey, but I definitely understand wanting to keep things simple and small.

  8. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 3:13 pm

    @Mrs. Pony: We always agree on restaurants, too. Even steakhouses always seem to have a great salad and nice fish options. One of my favorite salads ever is the vidalia onion and tomato salad at The Capital Grille. Mmmm…so yummy!

    I have to admit that part of the reason I want to include out of towners is to show off Charlottesville’s food some more! Our venue also has a “farm to table” philosophy and I think giving guests a double dose of the amazing, local food scene might get them hooked on Charlottesville. :)

  9. Member
    axeyourmakeupkit 2103 posts, Buzzing bee @ 3:36 pm

    Same here. Vegetarian since fourth grade and my SO is a srict carnivore. We have mastered our system which sounds identical to yours. Works for us!!

  10. Member
    whitearan 4 posts, Wannabee @ 8:21 pm

    I eat a lot , Hungry.

  11. Member
    chel_c 37 posts, Newbee @ 9:30 pm

    We’re skipping the rehearsal dinner/lunch and doing more of a ‘hang out reception’ Friday night – we’l be doing heavy apps and just hanging out with our guests & out of towners for a few hours!

    Once we added up the guest list for the rehearsal dinner…it was up over 35 people. I wouldn’t be able to sit and talk with them all if we sat down – so why not mingle with everyone?

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Eileen, Guest @ 9:36 pm

    So why didn’t you say you hated lamb? There were always three veggie choices plus potato so there were plenty of food choices beside the meat. By the way, that Capital Grille salad is my favorite as well.

  13. Guest Icon Guest
    Steven, Guest @ 2:56 am

    Just looking at those pancakes is making my hungry. They look amazing!

  14. Member
    MrsKeAloha 1044 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:48 am

    We will be inviting some of our out of towners. I have a large family, so I won’t be adding but one out of town couple on my side. My fiance, smaller family and he’ll be inviting friends who are very important to both of us. Invitations are going to 63ppl. But I expect only 45 -50 of those.

  15. Member
    Future Army Wife 2213 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:13 am

    We’re doing a small rehearsal dinner then a welcome party to see more of our guests. And grilled cheese sounds yummy as an appetizer.

  16. coyote Member
    coyote 1963 posts, Buzzing bee @ 11:02 am

    We’re doing the traditional, smaller rehearsal dinner. I’m the meat eater, but Mr. C and his family are vegetarians. We’ve been sure to include veggie-friendly options for the shower/rehearsal/wedding, etc.

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