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Fine dining at Vedge in Philadelphia

Posted Jan 08 2013 9:00am
autumn squash pierogies, chanterelles, madeira, hazelnut picada

During the winter holidays we spent a week in Philly visiting relatives and friends. One of the highlights was a dinner we shared with my brother at Vedge.

spicy grilled tofu, gochujang, edamame, smoked miso, yuba cracklin

I'd read that Vedge was more than just a great vegan restaurant — it was a fabulous restaurant, regardless of its unique cuisine. I'd have to agree, the food at Vedge was pretty remarkable. It was all glorious, fresh, real plant-based food.

braciole: smoked eggplant & cauliflower, Italian salsa verde, cured olive

Vedge is a small-plate restaurant, and our server recommended we order three dishes each. You can take a look look at the menus to see the kinds of plates they offer. We chose selections from the small plate menu and the dirt list. The three of us shared all the plates so we each got to sample nine dishes. If I go again, I think I may get my own three plates. Having just a bite of many dishes is exciting, but a little frustrating.

portabella carpaccio, creamy horseradish, pickled cabbage, cornichons

The plates really are quite small, and we each got a couple of bites from each plate. It was a little challenging for me to recognize and match each dish to the menu description after I got home, but I did my best to label our choices.

brussels sprouts, shaved & grilled, smoked mustard

There were a couple of plates I couldn't absolutely identify, and it may be because the menu changes, and by the time I returned home some of the offerings may have rotated. The "dirt list" changes daily, I believe. (update: a reader has helped to identify the previously unnamed plate!) Everything I tasted was beautiful and remarkable. The restaurant was ultra elegant, and very dark, and though I had my fast lens with me, it was no match for the "atmosphere," so I had to resort to the flash because it was flash or nada. You are only getting a bad representation of what the food really looked like. Honestly, I was so excited by the food, if it weren't for my two dining companions reminding me to take photographs, I would have nothing to show you.

roasted baby scarlet turnips coconut creamed kale, basil leaf & seed

When my husband and I go out to dinner for a non-special occasion, we usually tend to be conservative about the "extras" we order — things like drinks and appetizers are the stuff that pads the bill and makes dining out so expensive. But this was a special event, and we didn't hold back.

salt roasted gold beets, avocado, smoked tofu, rye, capers, creamy cucumber

We all ordered drinks — my brother had a craft beer, my husband had wine and I had a cocktail. I almost never drink, but we were at VEDGE, after all, and it was my brother's birthday, and I had to, you know, try everything. For the blog. I had a Kyoto Sour: Momokawa junmai sake, grapefruit, cucumber, agave, lemon. It was just delicious.

roasted maitake mushroom, celery root fritter, smoked leek remoulade

Everything was remarkably excellent, but one of my favorite tastes was a sweet potato paté that was unbelievable. I tried to re-create it when we got home and I made something very delicious, though with a slightly less-firm texture. It occurred to me that maybe I should bake it, and as soon as I'm happy with my recipe, I'll post it. The celery root fritter was also spectacular. As were the brussels sprouts.

wood grilled sweet potato paté, grain mustard, jerk cashews, toast

sticky toffee pudding, pumpkin ice cream
I was really quite full after all the small plates, though my brother wasn't. Since he was ordering dessert, I ordered one, too, to share with my husband. (OK, I would have ordered dessert even if my brother hadn't, just so I could taste it.) My brother ordered the ice cream trio, and I got the toffee pudding with pumpkin ice cream. My brother kept exclaiming about his whiskey ice cream, and how remarkable it was, but I was too enamored with my ultra creamy and perfectly spiced pumpkin ice cream to pay much attention. The pudding was great for a few bites but then became too sweet for me. My husband, on the other hand, had no problem polishing it off.

It's not easy to get reservations so if you know you'll be in Philly and want to go, call ahead — way ahead. We were lucky to get a reservation for three at 8:30 p.m. on a  Thursday night, and it was basically the only reservation to be had for the whole of our visit. (Of course, it was a busy time of year, so this might not be the case at other times.)

The Vedge is not to be missed, though you might want to save it for a special occasion, as it is pricy. For me, just going there is special occasion enough. I can't wait to go back!
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