Gaylord Texan and The Corner Bakery

We were ready for a break. The stars had aligned: A business trip to China and the availability of grandparents-as-babysitters met on our December calendar. Swine flu vaccinations were injected in hopes of avoiding quarantine. Passports renewed, visas granted. Emergency stashes of granola bars and instant oatmeal pouches purchased. Christmas presents bought, wrapped, and mailed ahead of time. But then, pneumonia struck. Our bargain-fare plane tickets meant our itineraries could not be shifted, and the trip we’d planned for months was simply … cancelled. With grandparent-babysitters set to land, we needed a plan B. Definitely nothing too exciting—pneumonia slows you down for a month or more—but something, anything that would allow us to take advantage of the time off that we’d already set up with our employers and family, in a place where we could continue recovering away from the hubbub of family life, if only for a few days. We got online, and found that the Gaylord Texan resort in Grapevine was offering special December rates for teachers (you need an ID), so booked a three-night getaway.

The Gaylord Texan is very, um, Texan: Everything’s big, over the top, and decorated to the hilt, with rustic touches to remind you that you’re near Cowtown. The resort’s annual Ice show meant that the considerable grounds—neatly housed indoors in an enormous atrium setting—were very crowded, especially on the weekend.

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While we found ourselves enchanted with the Gaylord Texan’s roaring fireplaces and comfy chairs, free WiFi and friendly service, Christmas decorations and scenic pathways, we found ourselves less enchanted with the food. It’s fine, really, but it’s pretty darn expensive for fare that’s only fine. For instance, the Riverwalk Café, considered to be among the best values on-site, is an all-you-can-eat buffet, for a set $28 per person, not including wine. While someone who stuffs themselves silly might walk away from such a situation feeling okay about it, buffets tend to be more about quantity than quality, and that is not what most vegetarians are about. The vegetables were good—thin green beans, fat asparagus spears, bite-size yellow squash, and roasted potatoes. But the desserts were mediocre. We ate the rest of our meals off-site.

The best culinary find of our mini break was The Corner Bakery, in nearby Grapevine Mills Mall. Sure, it’s just a casual soup-and-sandwich restaurant/bakery, but this Dallas-based chain is a great one for vegetarians. (There are additional locations in downtown Fort Worth, Arlington, Southlake, and all over Dallas.) When asked about vegetarian options, the cashier was quickly able to point out several choices, including a Three-Lentil Vegetable Soup that’s actually vegan. While in Grapevine, we went to the Corner Bakery for breakfast (the Anaheim Panini scrambled egg sandwich with chiles, avocado, green onions, and cheddar—hold the bacon—on sourdough), lunch (the California Grille sandwich with grilled zucchini, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, pesto, spinach, and provolone on whole grain toast), dinner (a soup-and-sandwich combination with the aforementioned vegan soup), and even dessert (a moist chocolate mini Bundt cake with fudgy frosting). The Corner Bakery Staff is friendly and accustomed to dietary restrictions; they’re at the ready with suggestions for slight menu changes that yield even more choices for the meatless.

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