I wasn’t sure we’d manage to visit Vedge Restaurant on this trip. JC was busy doing gaming stuff, and it was not an experience I’d want to have without him. But luckily, he finished with enough time to spare, and while we couldn’t make a reservation, we managed to snag Vedge’s walk-in table.
From the restauranteurs that made (the now closed) Horizons possible, I was excited to try Vedge out as soon as I heard about it. Actually, I had been selling Horizons to JC ever since we decided to go to Philadelphia. “I went to this amazing restaurant” makes it a reasonably easy sell, so when I finally went over to the Horizons website… and saw the “closed” message… there was a moment where my stomach was heartbroken. But thankfully I noticed their new “Vegetable Restaurant” notice. Yes. Vedge. I liked the name, I liked their website design, and the food pictures started up the ol’ salivary glands. I was ready.
JC pointed out that they also had a “Dirt List” which had a selection of seasonal vegetable dishes, from vegetables picked locally. Even more exciting! So, did it live up to all this hype and excitement?
Yes. Yes it did.
We navigated through Halloween party goers and rushed over from the Philadelphia Convention Center (it’s reasonably close) and grabbed the walk in table. Sat down, started with a table full of menus (drink, entrees, dirt), and ordered drinks. I don’t remember what drink I ordered (but think it was a Kyoto Sour.)
Service was quick, professional, and what you would expect at any fine dining establishment with a bit of a casual hip flair. I like being able to ask someone to describe a dish… and I like even more when the server can do it. This is the place.
We started with two things from the Dirt List. The Crispy Cauliflower, which also had a warm green curry sauce, black vinegar, and was drizzled with a spicy sambal sauce. I ordered it at least in part because JL of JLgoesvegan had sung it’s praises. But besides that, I love crispy cauliflower of any kind especially if there is sambal involved.
We also had the Shaved and Grilled Brussels Sprouts. They were drizzled with a creamy smoked mustard. It was no Shaved Brussels Sprouts with a truffle mustard, like I had once upon a time at Horizons. But it was still delicious. Perhaps there are two ways I’m willing to eat brussels sprouts now.
Next was the Salt Roasted Gold Beets, something that made it’s way over from the Horizons menu (with a few modifications.) I loved it the first time, and I absolutely loved from Vedge. Could it have been even better? Yes, I think it might have been. It was a beautifully layered dish topped with triangles of rye. Salt roasted gold beets, sliced thinly, with a layer of avocados, capers, and smoked tofu. And there was also a pool of creamy but light cucumber sauce. It was a complete pleasure to eat this dish as all of the ingredients complimented one another perfectly.
After all of those dishes we received our “mains.” I started with the Spicy Grilled Tofu, which wasn’t spicy, but was delightfully grilled, and topped with gochujang (aka sea asparagus,) it also had a mashed edamame sauce, and a dollop of a smoked miso sauce. All topped off with a sliver of yuba cracklin. Sometimes, I feel ambivalent about tofu, this was not one of those times. The full tofu steak was seasoned and flavourful with or without sauce. (but frankly, that’s exactly what I’d expect from these folks.)
Our other dish was the Autumn Squash Pierogies. Pierogies stuffed with an autumn squash, and chanterelles with a madiera sauce, surrounded by diced squash, chanterelles, and topped with a a madeira and hazelnut picada. I don’t remember what the leaf was, but I ate it combined with everything else, and it was just lovely. Crisp doughy pierogy outside, soft, squash potato inside. Just ideal for a chilly autumn evening. Comfort food in the truest sense of the word, both from a hybrid cultural perspective (I’m Polish, and love food innovation around our food traditions) and just pure taste.
But wait, there is more…
I’ll admit, at this point we were comfortably full. The flavours and the discussions were great, and I have to throw in here, how lovely it is to have a partner that appreciates the complexities and nuances of flavours and textures, and culinary techniques, equipment, and other foodie nonsense. And can hold his own within that conversation. But now it was time to answer the age old question… do you want dessert? And the inevitable follow up… do you want to share?
Not this time.
It was no surprise to anyone at our table when I ordered the Chocolate Uber Chunk. Layers of chocolate, malt custard on top of a pretzel-peanut brittle crust. With a side of mini peanut chocolate squares and a stout based ice cream. There are no words for this. None. So many amazingly complimentary flavours, textures, and ingredients, it takes you on a vacation, and then you’re sad when it’s over.
JC ordered the cheesecake topped with black mission figs drizzled with a white port reduction, and surrounded by crushed pistachios. Which sounds amazing, and I had a bite, but the Uber Chunk was uber delicious.
We stayed till well past closing (in our defense – we weren’t the only ones), completely oblivious to the time, and just enjoying the ambiance (which was a gentle, but constant hum of conversation), the company, and the food. I love this restaurant. I love the food and what it’s all about. Clearly, if I’m back in Philadelphia anytime soon, it will require a repeat visit.