Ground Provisions Is More Than a Dining Destination — It’s a Vegan Retreat
Vedge owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby return with a bang.
The drive to Ground Provisions is important.
Not the whole drive. Just the last stretch of it — down a densely treed stretch of Old Wilmington Pike. You’re past the fertile strip malls, the fields of car dealerships that grow nothing but Audis and BMWs. For a handful of seconds, you’re in the woods, twisting through the soft quiet. And then you’re there — at the old Inn Keeper’s Kitchen of Historic Dilworthtown (which itself sounds like something out of a half-remembered nursery rhyme), nosing the car up against an acre of grass, herb gardens, a hobby farm, and stepping up onto the stone porch of (maybe) the best new vegetable restaurant, new vegan restaurant, maybe new anything restaurant of the season.
Ground Provisions is a cultural reset for owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby — their quiet and countrified third act after the brilliant earthquake of Vedge (which stripped the politics out of vegan cooking and traded in its yogic earth-mother hippieness for white tablecloths and fine dining gloss) and the highly public implosion of V Street/Wiz Kid/Fancy Radish that put an end to their vision of a franchised interstate vegetable empire.
It’s lovely, sure, with its rusticated farmhouse chic, whitewashed walls, raw wood, and short bar pouring a powerful whiskey cocktail with elderflower, lemon and maraschino that tastes like drunken sunshine. Tucked away among the trees and fields, it’s a market on most days. You can sit on the porch with an organic latte and a demi baguette in the afternoon, order table service from an à la carte cafe menu on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, knocking down plates of marinated olives dripping oregano oil and frites dragged through a truffled herb aioli.
But three nights a week, it’s also a restaurant. Booked out a month in advance, it does an unapologetically vegan tasting menu for 52 reservation-only seats. Nothing that hits the table isn’t smart. Intellectualized without feeling overthought — which was always the magic that Vedge brought, rarely noticed because it was made to go unnoticed.
On a warm night in July, a simple slab of polenta cornbread, crisped brown around the edges, topped with a slice of yellow heirloom tomato, leads off the summer tasting menu like a sly open-face tomato sandwich. On the side, a shooter of roasted peach gazpacho that — for the first time in longer than I can remember — upends my perfect streak of hating every gazpacho put in front of me. It’s room-temperature, smooth, with a sweet base squashed under the weight of savory notes and a lace of char.
Next, a bowl of cured radish, shaved kohlrabi and radicchio dressed in lemon vinaigrette, with a dusting of breadcrumbs for texture. Garden greens braised like collards, spooned out in a line, bisected by a fall of ground pistachio and set over a generous smear of smoked eggplant pureed as smooth as hummus. Then white and purple cauliflower, roasted like knobs of lean meat, placed with deliberate artlessness in a puddle of cucumber salsa verde because to attempt making cauliflower beautiful is a fool’s errand, so why even try? This is the Dirt List course — an echo of the ever-changing from-the-farm menu that used to be a feature at Vedge. It is deliberate abundance, a promise that no one leaves the vegetable parade feeling cheated of either variety or flavor.
Next, cannelloni, scratch-made, stuffed with vegan ricotta and roasted zucchini. Then a black garlic glazed maitake mushroom that is sea-monster ugly but hits the table like a minor miracle of transubstantiation — the charred edges all smoky, tasting like perfect burnt ends. It sits on a throne of pommes puree, surrounded by a moat of green pea brodo dotted with tiny cubes of smoked trumpet mushrooms that function like lardons for the pork-averse.
On the floor, the servers approach each table with the kind of giddy energy you mostly only see at friends-and-family meals or in the first raw weeks of service. They bring warm blueberry cobbler, baked in soufflé cups, dotted with pistachios and topped with a melting scoop of lemon balm ice cream that’s childishly fun, refreshing and comforting all at the same time. After that, soft dark chocolate truffles. And after that, the check.
The distance matters at Ground Provisions. The sense of removal. The slow drive through trees and the soft summer light. Set down amid the green at the fork in the road, this Chester County idyll isn’t Vedge, but it serves as both a retreat from chasing the dragon of glitzy big-city success and a doubling-down on the thing that made Vedge so groundbreaking in the first place: the simple idea that vegetables alone, when treated well and thoughtfully, can be absolutely fucking delicious.
4 Stars — Come from anywhere in America
0 stars: stay away
★: come if there are no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in Philly
★★★★: come from anywhere in America
Published as “Hit the Ground Running” in the September 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.