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December 28, 2016

When in Philly, Go To Vedge

by Anne Paddock

On a beautiful street lined with 4-story brick brownstones in downtown Philadelphia is one of the best restaurants in the city, if not the state or for that matter, the eastern seaboard. That the restaurant only serves vegan food is all the more surprising because fans of Vedge are an eclectic group of eaters:  carnivores, paleos, vegetarians, vegans, and more.  The common denominator is the shared passion for incredibly great tasting food which is what Vedge delivers consistently.

Walk up to Vedge and if not for the sign above the door, you would almost think you are arriving at someone’s home. Inside are a serious of rooms (if you want quiet, sit street front; for more action and activity request a table in one of the rooms in the back) of what used to be a house, or for a drink and light snack, take a seat at the bar.Vedge_Restaurant

Vedge is quite simply a vegetable restaurant which is an oversimplification because vegetables never tasted so complex and flavorful. Even people who claim not to like vegetables like Vedge’s vegetables. I had a confirmed brussels sprouts hater at my table and he gobbled up the Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Mustard. Magical things are done to vegetables at Vedge that could never be replicated except by a highly trained chef, which is just what co-owners, Richard Landau & Kate Jacoby are.Vedge_Restaurant

The dinner menu (which changes seasonally) is broken down into three categories:  The Vedge Bar, The Grill, and The Dirt List:

THE VEDGE BAR

PORTOBELLO CARPACCIO deviled turnip, caper puree, nigella grissini 11

AUTUMN SALAD black lentil bagna cauda, crunchy mushrooms, pistachio 12

FANCY RADISHES smoked tamari, yuzu avocado, pickled tofu, shishito 12

SALT ROASTED BEETS smoked tofu, cucumber, avocado, everything lavash 12

STUFFED AVOCADO romesco, pickled cauliflower, “fried rice,” black salt 12

RUTABAGA FONDUE today’s soft pretzel, yesterday’s pickle, charred onion 13

THE GRILL

WOOD ROASTED CARROT pumpernickel, sauerkraut, carrot mustard, carrot kimchee 14

SSAMJANG GLAZED TOFU edamame puree, roasted miso, yuba crackling, sea beans 15

EGGPLANT BRACIOLE smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive 16

CHARRED ROMANESCO colors of cauliflower, fregola, calabrian chile, fried peppers 15

SEARED MAITAKE MUSHROOM celery root fritter, smoked leek remoulade 16

THE DIRT LIST

SMOKED KOHLRABI horseradish, crispy caraway quinoa 9

SQUASH MOQUECA chiles, pickled rice 9

PEA LEAVES flash seared, smoked onion dashi 9

SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUTS smoked mustard 9

NEBRODINI MUSHROOMS as “fazzoletti”, basil, cherry tomato 10

GRILLED HAMON SWEET POTATOES black garlic, za’atar 9

Each category has 5-6 choices. Choose one vegetable from each category and maybe an extra plate because most people generally eat 3-4 plates plus dessert. Servings are small and perfect for sharing so consider having everyone order a different dish and passing the plates. The only problem with this approach is when you meet the vegetable dish of your life and want to make a commitment but can’t because your dinner companion is giving you the evil eye.  There’s always time to order a second portion so don’t fret.

The Portobello Carpaccio really looks like carpaccio with paper-thin slices of marinated Portobello mushrooms spread across the plate with deviled turnips, caper purée, and a thin breadstick known as grissini. The Salt Roasted Beets are to die for.  Served with smoked tofu, avocado, and crispy lavash, this dish looks more like a tartare in presentation. But, the dish that won my heart was the Wood Roasted Carrot with pumpernickel, sauerkraut, carrot mustard, and carrot kimchi. Don’t grimace but the roasted carrot dish tasted like the most gourmet upscale hot dog ever created.

Dessert is decadent with six options including house made ice cream and sorbet. Try the Sticky Toffee Pudding or the Chocolate Uber Chunk which is served in a round dish filled with malt custard, pretzels, peanut butter, and stout ice cream. Super creamy and rich, these two desserts will make you sit back and wonder how could anything taste so decadent without butter, cream, or eggs?Sticky_Toffee_Pudding

Vedge is open Monday – Thursday from 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm and on Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm. Reservations are highly recommended. For more information, go to the website:  www.vedgerestaurant.com.

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