If you’re a true-blue vegan who still wanders over to the ice cream aisle at Whole Foods and stares longingly into the Ben & Jerry’s freezer, pining over pints of the company’s drool-worthy ice creams, you are not alone. Case in point: A couple in Charlottesville has started a petition on Change.org asking Ben & Jerry’s to please, please, pretty please, begin offering some sort of dairy-free ice cream option, and, as of right now, the petition has nearly 6,000 signatures.
*Welcome to our occasional feature, The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Philly. We’re on a mission to find the most delicious, indulgent restaurant dishes for every kind of dieter—whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, raw and more. We’re all about occasional splurges, and that’s what this series is all about. We’ll talk to foodies to find out their favorite eats, but feel free to add yours in the comments. Bon appétit!
It’s getting to be about that time, you guys: Comfort food season. Now, I don’t know about you, but as the temperature starts to drop, I stop craving ice-cold smoothies and start craving a warm bowl of chili, and just about anything cheesy. It’s a problem. But when you’re vegan, tracking down a spot that serves up drool-worthy comfort food can be a grueling task. I mean, who isn’t scarred by a vegan-cheese-gone-wrong experience?
So, to make sure you get the most out of this glorious thing that is comfort food season, we asked five Philly vegans, who know just about everything there is to know when it comes to the vegan food scene in Philly, to tell us about their all-time favorite vegan comfort foods in the city. From vegan cheese fries to vegan Chinese food, these guys have got you covered. Now, read up, jot these spots down on your bucket list, and get to taste-testing.
And if you have a favorite vegan comfort food dish in Philly, shout it from the rooftops for all to hear (or just share it with us in the comments section, below).
You wouldn’t expect a business best known for baking some of the best bread in the city to be home to a host of gluten-free soups, but Metropolitan Cafe—the much-loved Metropolitan Bakery’s only sit-down location, which opened in February 2013—offers just that: A steadily rotating seasonal soup selection, with a great deal of those soups boasting “gluten-free” and “vegan” titles.
And in case you’re wondering if they’re any good, the answer is Oh. My. Gosh. Heck. Yes. Last week, I went into the Cafe—located just a few steps away from Metropolitan’s Bakery’s Rittenhouse location—to get a taste of a few of their soups, and let me tell you, the cafe’s’ super seasonal and creative offerings are not the run of the mill tomato-basil concoctions you find at many cafes this time of year.
Craig LaBan reviews Charlie was a sinner. this week and gives the “plant-based” restaurant in Midtown Village two bells, though he does find more than a few things wrong.
Some otherwise beautiful dishes still need tweaks: The elegant sunchoke soup, pureed and poured over intricate garnishes, was spun off-kilter with too much sweetness from Asian pears. The potato gnocchi with favas were dense and doughy minus the levity of the usual egg. I saw more sweet-tart raisins than barley in the mushroom-barley toast.
Also of note, opening chef Michael Santoro has moved on, Max Hosey is now in charge of the kitchen.
Two Bells – Very Good
Call it ‘plant-based’ or vegan, Charlie is a winner [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Charlie was a sinner. [Foobooz]
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.
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.
Guys, chili season has officially arrived! At least at HipCityVeg: As of today, the restaurant’s über-popular vegan chili—loaded with a drool-worthy medley of quinoa, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes and corn tortilla strips—is officially back on the menu. And in case you couldn’t tell by that description, it is basically perfection in a to-go bowl.
Not too long ago, chef Scott Schroeder of South Philly Tap Room and American Sardine Bar hosted a Spam night at one of his restaurants. Yep, you read that right: a night full of culinary creations made with the infamous canned meat product, Spam. Spam nachos, Spam tacos, Spam sliders—Spam everything. So it might be a tiny bit hard to believe that this Spam-enthusiast (to his credit, he doesn’t actually love Spam—he just appreciates it’s versatility) recently went vegan. Well, six days a week, at least.
We chatted with the Philly chef to get the lowdown on why he ditched meat (Spoiler alert: he doesn’t actually disagree with eating animals at all) and to soak up some vegan cooking inspiration. Check out what Schroeder had to say about his vegan diet below.
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.