I recently had the opportunity to visit Vedge Restaurant in Philadelphia with my good friend Troy. I was unprepared for the vegan extravaganza that was to come my way on my first visit to this amazing vegetable restaurant. Troy and I worked together years ago at Fresh Fields, which was purchased by Whole Foods Market. As I am a vegan and he is a trained chef and foodie, he was excited to experience my reaction.
Vedge is very popular and you must have reservations or you may not get in. Fortunately, my compatriot had planned ahead. We arrived by Uber and were politely shown to our table in one of the main floor rooms of the elegant converted brownstone. Our waiter was prompt to provide us with a menu which featured “The Vedge Bar”, “Hot Plates” and “The Dirt List”. He took our drink order (they have a nice selection of wine and beer) and gave us some time to peruse the menu.
My good friend refused to make any recommendations as he claimed that everything was great, but I was presented with a difficult choice of almost twenty items to choose from and remained indecisive. I referred to our waiter who was able to make excellent recommendations, he guaranteed would please us. We started our first course from the Vedge Bar list and went for what the waiter claimed (and I verified with my own eyes and taste buds) was the number one dish (1) Fancy Radishes presented like the finest sushi plate you’ve ever seen but made up almost exclusively of radishes along with pickled tofu, avocado and shishito pepper. We also selected the (2) Salt Roasted Gold Beets which were presented as a terrine of avocado, smoked tofu, capers and topped with rye bread.
For our Hot Plate selections, we chose the (3) Fresh Hearts of Palm Vindaloo which was presented next to a buckwheat crepe and on a bed of swiss chard with tomato chutney. We also dined on the (4) Spicy Grilled Tofu which was accompanied by gouchujang, edamame, roasted miso and yuba craklin. Don’t worry if you don’t know what these ingredients actually are — they are vegan, and they are delicious. You may note from the pictures that the selections are presented in unique ways and they all taste amazing. We also selected the (5) Roasted Maitake Mushroom which was accompanied by a celery root fritter, smoked leek remoulade and pea leaf puree — Fantastic!
The Dirt List brought some delicious sides including (6) Seared Black Kale with apple kohlrabi kimchee and spicy peanut sauce, (7) Nebrodini Mushrooms as “fazzoletti” featuring basil and charred tomato, and (8) Fingerling Fries in a creamy (vegan) worcestershire sauce, one of my personal favorites. I made the potatoes at home using the The Vedge Cookbook which Troy gifted to me as a souvenir at the end of our meal. I presume it was his gift to me for allowing him to see the joy on my face through throughout the meal and, I appreciate that he went to the trouble to have the book signed by the chefs and “vegan wizards” Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby.
Rounding out the top ten were the sharable desserts (9) Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with blood orange gel, tangerine ice cream covered in chocolate-bergamont dust and finally (10) Chocolate Uber Chunk pretzel-peanut crust, malt custard and stout ice cream.
Special note to my fellow vegans – the menu doesn’t say vegan … that’s because everything in the restaurant is vegan. Those with allergies beware, however, as there are nuts in some of the dishes and I’m sure they would accommodate but I recommend you call ahead first and speak to your waiter when you arrive.