Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vedge Restaurant, Philadelphia PA

vedge logoWhen husband/wife team Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby decided to close Horizons last July, Philadelphia lost a vegan dining treasure. Delicious food, slightly upscale yet affordable, Horizons was a place that both omnivores and vegans alike enjoyed.

Rumor has it Landau & Jacoby received an offer on the building that they could not refuse, so they closed shop and moved to 13th and Locust. Moving is not something new for this team. Horizons was originally located in Willow Grove, PA. But Landau & Jacoby decided it was time to end Horizons and reconceptualize their menu and focus more on a vegetable-based, locally sourced menu. And so, Vedge was born.

First things first, Vedge is NOT Horizons. If you go with the expectation that it is, you will be disappointed. One look at the menu and you realize that Vedge is a place for foodies. Menu words such as roasted maitake, farro, gochujang tofu, kohlrabi, carpaccio, and kimchee crema will enthrall foodies while confusing everyone else.

The second notable difference, and a bit of a surprise, are the portion sizes. As our server described, "I'd recommend ordering 2-3 items to get up to an appetizer or main course serving size. All of the plates are just slightly larger than tapas."

fancy radishesFor my first dish, I ordered the fancy radishes, roasted & marinated, smoked tamari, nori, avocado, shishito ($8). It was very pretty to look at. The avocado was decorated with toasted sesame seeds and the strips of nori were quite playful. Radishes are not something I normally eat or enjoy, which is why I decided to try it. The marinated radishes were really good. The others were palatable, which is more than I can say for most radishes I've tasted in my life, but I feel like the price of this dish reflected the presentation more than substance. As my brunch-mate put it: "I like to go to restaurants to eat food, not look at food. This seems to be a restaurant where you're supposed to look at the food."

portabella carpaccioMy brunch-mate ordered the portabella carpaccio, salsa rustica, arugula crema, olive oil, crostini ($9). The portabella was very nicely sliced, but would not have hurt from a bit more seasoning. The tiny bit of arugula crema I tasted had a nice sharp flavor that worked well with the dish, but I was not a fan of the salsa rustica.

My next course was a winner. Whipped turnips and sunchokes topped with roasted maitake mushrooms ($6). The creamy hot dish was similar to mashed potatoes in consistency, but with a hint of sweetness. And the maitakes gave it a satisfying crunch to each bite. Comfort food you can feel good about eating, and a dish with more than one bite of food.

sunchokes and parsnips

I ordered this off of the "dirt list," which is a list of vegetable sides that changes daily, so who knows what the chances are that it will be available again. I do know that I will be doing my best to recreate this tasty side. If it's on the menu, order it!

roasted maitake
My brunch-mate next tried the roasted maitake, creamy celery root, seared turnip, truffle, red wine($14). Given the amount of food on the plate, this is most certainly a dish that you are paying to look at. The creamy celery root was quite similar to mashed potatoes in texture and taste. The maitake was nicely prepared, but not memorable.

choco-tacoFor dessert I ordered the "Choco-Taco," hazelnut tuile, mole ganache, burnt wood ice cream, and charred pineapple salsa ($9).
The hazelnut tuile was good but could have used a dash of salt to balance out its sweetness. The mole ganach was a nice dark bitter chocolate, but there was not enough of it for my liking. I was not a fan of the burnt wood ice cream or the charred pineapple salsa. Change those two items and we could be talking. The taco was topped with coconut whipped cream, which was nice and fluffy but left a strong coconut aftertaste.

I will be very curious to see how Vedge grows and if there is enough of a market to support the upscale vegan tapas vibe they have going. Right now the menu is a bit of a hit or miss (unlike Horizons where everything was a hit or a smashing success), but hopefully with a bit of time they will refine the menu and portion sizes. Will I dine here again for dinner? Probably not anytime soon. Will I go here for happy hour or late-night drinks & appetizers? Absolutely.

vedge menuIf you go:
  • 1221 Locust Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • Phone: 215.320.7500
  • They accept credit cards.
  • Vedge Restaurant

1 comment:

Still Hungry said...

This place is definitely no Horizons. Instead of lots of tasty food, they have tiny plates of expensive, bland food that just looks pretty.

After finishing our meal, my date and I decided to go for a walk around the block. Less than a minute out the door we ran into male prostitutes, and two shady men looking to buy drugs. We immediately called off the stroll and made our way back to the car just as those two men walked past arguing loudly about the drugs they had just bought. Location, location, location.

In addition to opening Vedge right next to a known male prostitution hotspot (and now open air drug market?) I had to go home and eat dinner since it would have cost about $200 to properly feed both of us at Vedge. I won't be going back.

If you want yummy vegan food that will fill you up instead of just looking pretty, try out Blackbird Pizzeria instead.