Vedge gets me. Vedge gets you too; you just might not know it yet. Too bad we have to be in a long distance relationship. Philly’s not that far though, right?
Some things to know about our new beau: Vedge is delicious. Vedge’s cocktails are equally delicious. Vedge is inventive. Vedge is not out for all your money. Vedge is warm and friendly. Oh, and Vedge is vegan. We actually argued over this last point at the end of our meal, those refusing to believe murmuring things like “But the ice cream. The creamy sauces”.
We started with salted beets and a portobella carpaccio, from an appetizer selection including sweet potato pate with jerk cashews and ‘funky’ kimchi stew.
The beets were fresh and bright – a welcome departure from my usual roasted, dense preparation. Together with avocado and cucumber herb sauce, every bite had the right amount of salt, crunch, and cream.
Salted beets with avocado
Portobella carpaccio is one of those feats that makes dining out exciting. Sliced paper thin, with a delicately smoky flavor and little blobs of caper sauce and creamy truffle mustard, they resembled nothing like the usual earthy caps served in burgers or stuffed with cheese.
Portobella carpaccio: all air, no earth
Spicy grilled tofu was also inspired. While not quite spicy, the slathering of smoked miso along with gochujang, a fermented Korean chili paste, was a perfect twist on barbecue sauce.
Seitan was aggressively but appropriately seasoned as well, marinated until tender and chewy with za’atar and served over tahini cream and swiss chard. This was of the best seitan dishes I’ve tried.
Hearts of palm went surprisingly well with the buckwheat pancake they were wrapped in, but the real standouts here were the gorgeous saffron sauce and cake-like disk of tandoor cauliflower.
Hearts of palm
Eggplant braciole was the only dish that didn’t blow us away; the texture was mealy rather than silky and red peppers overwhelmed the other flavors.
We also ordered a couple of sides off of the ‘dirt list’, both very nice. Grilled kale was buttery and indulgent, and a winter stew with tomatoes and hazelnuts gave me a new appreciation for simmered (rather than roasted) parsnips.
Don’t leave Vedge without trying at least two desserts. We were very happy with our cheesecake and chocolate peanut butter extravaganza, but narrowing down was not easy. I actually woke up the other day wondering what a choice of sticky toffee pudding with smoked pecan ice cream would have been like.
Cheesecake was topped with a zippy mini celery and apple waldorf and served with celery gel (more appetizing than it sounds). Even better was the accompanying carrot cake ice cream over a sprinkle of crunchy walnut dirt. Vibrantly orange and intensely flavored, the ice cream reminded me of both a traditional spice cake and Indian carrot halwa.
Chocolate uber chunk was uber satisfying. Layers of pretzel and peanut, malt custard, chocolate, and some kind of peanut butter cream came with a super boozy stout ice cream and, just for kicks, another square of crunchy, chocolatey, peanut buttery goo. The birthday girl was rightly excited:
Chocolate uber chunk (with birthday girl Shruthi!)
Unlike many restaurants where the quality of the food isn’t necessarily matched by the drinks, our cocktails were also excellent. All four of us liked all four choices, particularly the floral Kyoto Sour and winter-themed Thackery Binx, which combined rum, figs, port, and dates without being at all syrupy.
Unsure of my friend’s plans, I had made reservations at Vedge for both Friday and Saturday night during the weekend of my visit. After our meal, a part of me regretted having cancelled Saturday’s reservation. You better believe I’m going back to Philadelphia soon to visit Vedge. I mean, Shruthi.
1221 Locust St, Philadelphia