Vedge RestaurantJuly 29, 2014
You guys I finally went to Vedge! I had been wanting to go here for so long, especially after seein...
You guys I finally went to Vedge! I had been wanting to go here for so long, especially after seeing their chef Rich Landau compete (and win!) on Chopped. I also saw his feature in VegNews, and knew I had to try this restaurant. After our first foray into fine dining the previous weekend at Charlie Was A Sinner, I felt we were primed and ready for a Vedge experience. The experience was more than just dinner. In fact, it's best not to show up to this place famished, lest you will go broke. We had eaten a light dinner about 3 hours before our reservation for that reason exactly. Though it was pricey, it was an amazing experience way beyond what we would call "a great dinner." Let me explain:
Since we had our Sunday (or Saturday) best on, I figured I would kick things off with an original house cocktail. This was El Diablo De La Mora, made with tequila, lime, housemade ginger beer and blackberries. I was pleasantly surprised at how big it was. I paid the same for a cocktail at Charlie and got a teeny tiny little sipper. So I was really happy with that decision.
The waitress recommended we get 3-4 plates per person, and we, as usual, ignored her advice and ordered 4 plates to share. I tried to choose strategically to accommodate Alex's picky tastes, and get something I knew he would enjoy. But I would have been pleased with anything on the menu, I'm sure. The first course we chose was the Heirloom tomatoes, with whipped basil on toast. It was super balanced and had a type of cashew-basil cheese spread. It also came with some oil cured olives which made the flavors and salt really pop. After each bite I got a nice salt taste left lingering behind, balancing out the sweet tomatoes and fruity olive oil. I dug it.
For the entrees, we chose the Grilled Seitan and Spicy Grilled Tofu. Both of these dishes were unlike any tofu or seitan I have ever tasted before. The tofu was so tender and flavorful. It had a gochujang bbq-style sauce that I loved, and a yuba crackling. It also had a miso sauce and a little salsa, so there was a great balance of flavors and textures in this one. No one would ever have a bad thing to say about tofu if they were served tofu like this.
The seitan reminded me of tender grilled chicken, but much much better than I ever remember chicken being, seeing as how I never liked it as a child. It was flavored with Za'atar spices (my fave) and came with a small pile of super tender swiss chard. I loved this dish so much. It had a frothy tahini sauce with some pickled turnips, really tying in the mediterranean flavor theme. These are dishes I'm sure my meat-and-potato-loving dad would totally enjoy.
We felt full enough after the first 3 courses that we decided we'd better skip a 4th course and head right to dessert. It took us longer to make up our mind over which dessert we wanted than any of the savory courses. It was between the yuzu cornbread and the chocolate uber chunk. Chocolate ultimately called our names and won us over. It was served in a pretty interesting way, with a tiny parfait jar, then stout ice cream, and then a fudge-topped cookie. I immediately thought of my dad again when I ate the stout ice cream. It was such a pronounced stout flavor! A lot of stout ice creams have like a thimble-full of stout in the whole batch of ice cream, and you can barely taste anything but sugar. But this stout was so assertive and undoubtably stout ice cream!
The fudgey cookie was good too, tasting kind of like the crust to a chocolate tart or pie. I guess you were supposed to take a bite of the parfait, then the ice cream then the cookie, so that you get the creamy, the cold, then the crunchy texture pattern. I think they would be good any way you decided to eat them.
The parfait was out-of-control good. It had all the notes of creamy, salty, sweet and crunchy. Nothing could make it better.
I definitely think Rich Landau is a vegan magician and Kate Jacoby is a mystical vegan fairy creature. This was the best meal at a restaurant we have had to date. Was it expensive? Yeah. It was pricey. But I'm not going to eat here every day. I've got a vegan diner in my neighborhood for that (whaddup Champs?!). This is for special occasions, and for a very different kind of experience. You don't come to a place like this to stuff your face. I thought critically about each bite and wanted to learn something from it. They are building something much more than dinner at this place when they make your plates. It's a real work of art-- carefully composed, painstakingly balanced and perfectly executed art. I can definitely appreciate that, even if you pay a little more. People are saying that Vedge is one of the best restaurants in the US, not just one of the best vegan restaurants. I, no doubt, agree. Vedge made me think about food, vegetables, and the art of cooking in a completely new light. Hopefully I reference all I have learned from eating here while I make my own dishes at home, and put a shred of what they put into each of their dishes into my own.