Before I begin my story, I’d like to first confess something:
I never believed in vegan food. It always stood as this ridiculous symbol for a movement that tried too hard and failed to prove anything to the “real food” community. It added no substance, and subtracted even more, and in the end, there was always something left to be desired. It was a cuisine full of soul-sucking impostors, phonies and shams. So I gave up on it.
But the movement shifted. Places like HipCityVeg opened—that was my first reentrance to the cuisine. A few years ago, I took a bite of their fajita wrap and lost my mind. A few more trips back, and a visit to Vedge sealed the deal. These chefs weren’t aiming to convince anymore—they were showing off. Vegan options have grown in Philly since—all the way into South Philly, even. Which, admittedly, was expected given the gentrification eruption rolling there over the past decade. Now, on the corner of 11th and Morris, Steve Laurence’s Vegan Commissary exists, and the food coming out of that kitchen is as impressive as it gets in this city’s restaurant collection.
And so it begins: a look into our late, late night dinner, put together by a vegan chef, sharing knives with a steakhouse chef, both in a tiny little restaurant/commissary kitchen in South Philadelphia.
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I don’t have enough thumbs to put up (you know, like thumbs up?) to convey how awesome I think the upcoming Foobooz After Dark event is. So you’ll have to accept my two measly thumbs, but envision many, many more.
The event, which our friends over at Foobooz are hosting (duh), is a one-night-only vegan dinner on Saturday, March 29th, with Barclay Prime chef Jeff Froehler, who will be manning the kitchen sans animal products at Passyunk Square’s new Vegan Commissary. So yes, a steakhouse chef cooking a meat-free dinner. Seriously, y’all: The Foobooz guys tell me this food will be phenomenal.
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Philadelphia has its company of vegan darlings: Vedge, HipCityVeg, Grindcore House, Miss Rachel’s Pantry, Barclay Prime, Blackbird Pizzeria, Breezy’s Cafe. We love them because they never fail to impress. Being able to coax any semblance of umami out of nothing-from-an-animal is basically a magic trick, and these crews do it day-in and day-out. They’re the mind-blowers and the mind-changers, and they’ve diversified Philly’s dining scene so that it’s accessible to anyone: vegan, vegetarian, and not.
Wait, Barclay Prime?
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Vegan Commissary will open just steps from the Avenue. Photo by Jeff Fusco
Friday, December 27th marks the opening of Steve Laurence’s Vegan Commissary at 1703 South 11th Street, just a half-block off of Passyunk Avenue. You may have already seen Laurence’s spreads, scrambles and sandwich fillings at Sook Hee’s Produce in the Comcast Center, the Last Drop coffee house or at Good Karma Cafe.
Laurence just sent over what will be on his opening chalkboard menu tomorrow. The menu features starters like edamame hummus with Togarashi won tons, salads, sandwiches and bigger dishes like Za’atar grilled eggplant.
For more on Laurence and Vegan Commissary, check out this article on Be Well Philly.
Opening menu items »
Be Well Philly’s Emily Leaman has an interview with Steve Laurence who is opening a vegan restaurant near East Passyunk. Vegan Commissary is as you might guess, a casual vegan restaurant that will offer dinner and weekend brunch. But that’s just part of Laurence’s ambitious plan that calls for including gratuity in the price and paying wait staff a living wage.
For more on Vegan Commissary, check out Be Well Philly’s interview.
More Details on Passyunk Square’s Soon-to-Open Vegan Commissary [Be Well Philly]