Why Philly Chef Rich Landau Steers Clear Of the Word “Vegan”

Photo via Facebook // Vedge

Photo via Facebook // Vedge

A few months ago, when we asked a bunch of local vegans to dish on the most drool-worthy vegan foods they’d ever had in Philly, a big chunk of them named concoctions made by the well-known vegan chef Rich Landau. Listing off everything from the grilled seitan and vegan cheesecake at Vedge to the barbecue seitan “wings” at the now closed Horizons, these Philly folks made it clear that Landau is quite the vegan-cooking mastermind. So, it’s surprising to hear that the chef actually shies away from the word “vegan” when it comes to describing the food at his Rittenhouse restaurant, Vedge.

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V Street Shares Menu

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Rich Landau is in the final stretch for his about to open V Street, just off of Rittenhouse Square. Landau is promising V Street will be a vegan street food bar because “you just can’t get a good Langos or Jallab in Philly.”

The menu is broken down into “Street Snacks (papdums with whipped dal), “Market” plates (langos with sauerkraut puree and smoked chioggia beets) and “Hot Pots,” (funky kimchee stew) sections. Inspiration comes from street food from around the world. Landau promises bold flavors and lots of spice.

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The Revisit: Vedge

Vedge

Consider the radish…

When I reviewed Vedge two-and-a-half years ago, that was my opening line. Sometimes I wonder how many people stopped reading after the third word. But I don’t regret it. Plenty of things on Rich Landau’s menu sounded more appetizing, but the black slate bearing his “fancy radishes” was a dish that changed my whole way of thinking—not only about that lowly stepchild of the brassicas, but about vegan cooking altogether.

Five varieties came five ways, from roasted to half-roasted to raw, with an artful precision and a cup of smoked tamari soy sauce that boldly begged comparison with top-shelf sashimi. It was a definitive dish: the last word on an ingredient nobody else was really even offering a first word about. So if anything was bound to stay on Vedge’s menu, it was the radishes. As an emblem of Landau and Kate Jacoby’s galvanizing approach to vegetables, it was too perfect to replace.

Yet not too perfect to improve upon, as I discovered on a recent, belated return to a restaurant that I’ve spent the last two years sending people to.

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UPDATED: Get A First Taste Of V Street At The Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival

VstreetlogoJust a quick reminder for all of you out there still firming up your weekend plans. The Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival is this weekend, and if you’re still wondering whether or not it’s worth cramming yourself in with thousands of your fellow Philadelphians, there’s this to consider:

Saturday’s party will, among other things, serve as the first public tasting of the food from V Street–the new, casual vegan bar and restaurant from the Vedge crew, coming to 19th Street. They’re going to be serving Korean seitan tacos, vegan soft-serve and rutabaga red chile salad. And while yes, those 11 words may cause the carnivores in the crowd to recoil in horror, let’s all just remember that radishes didn’t really sound all that exciting either until the Vedge crew got a hold of them.

UPDATE: Rich Landau from V Street reached out with some new intel on V Street’s debut. He says: “I don’t know if it’s to late but I just wanted to let you know that our menu has changed a bit.We couldn’t score a soft serve machine in time so we are doing slutty brownies instead. We are also doing Korean tofu tacos and instead of the rutabaga salad we are doing an Israeli cous cous & garbanzo salad with spicy zhoug.”

The festivities start at noon and will run ’til 6pm, rain or shine (or flooding or structural collapse). Check out the link below for all the information you need.

Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival [Official]

New Details on Vedge’s Rittenhouse Restaurant

vstreetOur pals at Foobooz have some fun new details on the vegan spot coming to Rittenhouse, courtesy of the meat-free geniuses at Vedge. I’m sure more than a few of you are on the edges of your seats here.

First off, the restaurant officially has a name—V Street—and it’s going to center around an international street-food concept. Mmmmm. I definitely like the sound of that.

V Street will open at 126 South 19th Street. Head over to Foobooz for more details from Vedge’s Rich Landau.

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Vedge’s Rittenhouse Expansion Has A Name (And Some Details)

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It’s been a while since we had any news on the new restaurant coming from Vedge’s Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. We knew that it was coming to Rittenhouse–specifically to 126 S. 19th Street which, yes, is the space right next door to Zama–and that it was set to open in the spring. But everything else about the place was a mystery.

Right up until Landau reached out this morning with some new details.

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Vedge Expanding To Rittenhouse

vedge-board

With their L.A. expansion plans currently on hold, Vedge owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby have just signed a lease for a new restaurant in Rittenhouse Square.

The address is 126 S. 19th Street–which, yes, is right next door to Zama and currently home to a pop-up boutique (Smak Parlour), but will soon to be the location for Vedge’s smaller, cooler and more casual little-sister restaurant.

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Rich Landau and Vedge All Over Food and Wine

Richard LandauRich Landau and Vedge are all over this month’s Food and Wine magazine. The vegan restaurant and vegetable whisperer get mentioned no less than five times in the issue including in “From Beef to Beets,” “Vegetable Now,” “New Vegetable Cookbooks,” and “America’s Best Vegetarian Restaurants”.

Vegetables Now [Philadelphia Magazine]

Photo by Ethan Hill

An L.A. Update from Rich Landau of Vedge

VEDGE Rich Kate

Yesterday, I got Rich Landau from Vedge on the phone as he was driving over to check out a potential home for his new Los Angeles expansion.

Last night, we traded a couple messages about where things stood after the all-important site visit.

“It’s a big, beautiful raw space,” Landau explained. But also one that “needs…well…everything.” Still, it has great potential, and Landau seemed as though he was ready to move forward. So I asked him: Does this mean Vedge L.A. is a go?

“I wouldn’t say that yet,” he said. “Next up: lawyers. This is where it gets fun. And expensive.”

For a good look at the background on Vedge’s L.A. adventures, check out Zagat’s piece on how this all came to be.

Vedge [Twitter]

Is Vedge Expanding To L.A.?

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It’s certainly beginning to look that way. Owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby are in Los Angeles right now to check out a space with their investors, and I got Landau on the phone while they were driving over.

The most important news, I guess, is that nothing bad is going to happen to our own Vedge here. It’s going to be business as usual. As a matter of fact, according to Landau, the L.A. project is being pitched as a “carbon-copy” of the Philly original. Same concept, same design scheme, same influences.

Landau told me that he and Jacoby looked at several spaces around Philly before shifting their gaze to the opposite coast. “We even had a couple projects on the board,” he said. “We would’ve done our Osteria, you know? Like a little sister [to Vedge]. That’s what people do, right?” And, he told me, they might still do exactly that. Just not right now.

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