FOOD & DRINK > RESTAURANT REVIEWS

Vedge

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 19 | Posted Mar. 15, 2012

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Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby's latest vegetable-friendly venture, Vedge, has enough healthy options to satisfy any colorful eater.

Photo by Greg Bezanis

One of my earliest food memories is walking into my grandmother’s kitchen. The aroma of cinnamon and sugar was prevalent and I enjoyed helping her. I clearly recall helping her to fill the deep, white porcelain sink with cold water to rinse fresh spinach leaves to remove all of the grit. My mother never had to say “Phyllis, eat your vegetables.” I have loved nearly all of them, from green beans to asparagus, ever since I cut my first tooth.

I think there are a number of reasons why Vedge, a new vegan restaurant on Locust Street, is successful. Obviously there are scores of vegans in Center City, but we also have learned more and more about food allergies in recent years. Gluten-free has entered the lexicon.

Vedge is owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of chef Rich Landau and pastry chef Kate Jacoby. They have succeeded in elevating vegan fare into new culinary heights, using farm fresh local ingredients and creating lovely dishes — to look at and eat — at moderate prices.

Vedge is housed in a 19th-century town home that housed Deux Cheminées previously. Those who adored chef Fritz Blank’s French fare served up in gorgeous antique-filled rooms will experience a slight take back upon entering the restaurant. The stained glass windows are still intact as is the warm wood trim and the fireplace in the lounge.

I dined alone at the cool, white marble bar, sipped a Bombay sapphire martini ($12.50) and enjoyed reading the bill of fare. I enjoyed the in-house baked bread — similar in taste and texture to challah but without the eggs or butter — with an herb-infused olive oil.

I do not know how Landau and Jacoby create creamy dishes without milk, cream or butter. I do know that the smoked vichyssoise ($7), which was on the “dirt list,” was a masterpiece of tastes and textures. The “dirt list” is an assortment of changing specials using ingredients reaped within one day. The flavor of smoked potatoes, along with the natural sweetness of pureed leeks, was astonishing. I could swear the small mound of flaked potatoes in the bowl was smoked whitefish salad from a top deli.

I grew up eating grated radishes or turnips tossed with oil as an appetizer. This Viennese creation, along with other radishes, was a staple in our home. Landau’s fancy radish “sushi” ($8) was a whimsical collection of these root beauties either pickled or roasted. Red small rolls of watermelon radish were lovingly pickled and shared the long, black serving vessel with finely grated daikon, which looked like a thin noodle. Small, round whole black radishes were included with small white ones and a tamari sauce that I was literally enjoying by dipping my finger into it.

I wanted to try the hearts of palm crepe. I asked one of the bartenders for her opinion.

“The crepe is light, but I like the braciole ($13),” she said.

Landau roasted small eggplants and sliced them quite thin. He smoked eggplant and cauliflower that he turned into a soufflé-like stuffing and tucked it and jasmine rice inside the eggplant sheet and rolled it. Chickpeas and an herb-infused olive oil sauce surrounded the braciole, which was one of the finest vegan dishes my taste buds had ever met.

I sipped a glass of Primitivo ($12) a rustic red wine from Puglia that the bartender recommended.

Jacoby’s sticking toffee pudding ($8) served warm with a dollop of Bourbon vanilla ice cream was a glorious sweet ending to one fine meal. I guess she uses soy and coconut milks to create the creamy consistency, but I think it is just magic.

There are a number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Center City. Vedge is outstanding on all levels: Quality of ingredients, flavors, textures, presentation, originality, creativity with a hint of whimsy and friendly, professional service. There is no vegan or vegetarian restaurant to match it.

Three tips of the toque to Vedge.

Vedge

1221 Locust St.
215-320-7500
vedgerestaurant.com

Contact the South Philly Review at editor@southphillyreview.com.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 19 of 19
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1. Anonymous said... on Mar 15, 2012 at 08:02AM

“I'd be inclined to try it.”

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2. Edward said... on Mar 15, 2012 at 11:48AM

“So, a Bombay sapphire martini for $12.50 and a glass of Primitivo for $12. That's $24.50.

Meanwhile I was sitting on the curb outside the State Store drinking a FULL LITER of Martini & Rossi Italian extra dry Vermouth, which sells for $8.99.

Tell me, honey. Who got the better deal ?”

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3. Marty Medals said... on Mar 15, 2012 at 01:47PM

“$12.50 for a martini? $12.00 for a glass of wine?

Living in Florida I can buy a rather good bottle of Shiraz for under $3.00. When I think of all of the years I had to pay the State of Pennsylvania all of the money that they charge for wine I want to spit!

Now that the Republicans have total control of the state house and Governorship you would think these privatization idiots would sell off the State Stores so prices could go down and individual owners could make a living?

But Noooo, instead of making the State Store system private stores they want us to get photo ID's to vote and they want to tell women how to care for their health issues.

Who elected these holier than thou idiots?

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4. Philly Man said... on Mar 15, 2012 at 02:11PM

“Seven Reasons to ignore Marty Medals:
1 He lives in Florida and this is a Pennsylvania newspaper
2 He doesn't understand the reason for a price difference between purchasing a drink in a restaurant and in a liquor store
3 He doesn't realize new voters in PA have to show ID already under current law
4 He doesn't realize this is a restaurant review, not a political forum
5 He's really old, and clings to the nostalgia of his Philly youth
6 He's really bored and wastes his and our time writing rubbish
7 He's a hypocrite for being holier than thou and then accusing others of being holier than thou

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5. Buzzkill said... on Mar 16, 2012 at 07:48AM

“Wow, do us all a favor, and don't go out, anywhere.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Mar 16, 2012 at 08:42AM

“Sorry. A man's gotta eat. A real man, that is.”

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7. MCE said... on Mar 16, 2012 at 10:21AM

“To Anonymous: A real man is confident enough in his own sexuality to not be offended by or bothered by an opposite sexual orientation in others. So you should not be using the term "real man" to describe yourself. It does not apply. And a final note, just because a restaurant is located in the gayborhood does not mean it is frequented by a mostly gay clientele. Ever been to El Vez or Barbuzzo lately??

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8. Marty Medals said... on Mar 16, 2012 at 03:58PM

“Hey Philly Man
You watch way too much FOX News.
That's a lot of talk without responding to my questions.

Why doesn't the State sell the State Stores to private enterprise? It would bring in a fortune and maybe , just maybe, some of that money will be spent for the people of Pennsylvania.

I acknowledge that you are jealous that I can spend the winters in Florida. But here every restaurant is allowed to sell wine and beer.

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9. Anonymous said... on Mar 16, 2012 at 05:44PM

“I fathered three kids, MDE. Kept the species going. Yep. A real man. And you?

Those colored stripes on the street sign were not my idea. Segregation went out in the 50s. More power to El Vez. Now who can clue us in on Vedge's clientele?”

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10. center city dweller said... on Mar 18, 2012 at 03:33PM

“Anonymous.... the clientele at Vedge is diverse.... I stop in often for happy hour, as it is very close to where I work. I have seen folks from all walks there... I think the common bond are people who love great food, well presented, in a pleasant, relaxing environment. The happy hour deals are great, both for the happy hour menu and drinks... fantastic, interesting beers on tap and seitan tacos I defy the meatiest of meat eaters not to love. Not that it matters, but I am not a vegetarian. Great food is great food!”

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11. Anonymous said... on Mar 19, 2012 at 11:30AM

“ANYWAYYYYYYYY, back to the ARTICLE - this place sounds delicious and I will be trying it. Trying to change my eating habits and this seems like a great place to check out in order to recreate some dishes at home.

PS, to everyone complaining - you don't have to order a drink to enjoy the meal, cheapos.”

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12. Slim said... on Mar 19, 2012 at 12:42PM

“Anonymous, I hope your new approach to eating works. Haven't been to Vedge yet, but I hope they take a holistic approach to healthy dining.

What I mean is: reduced/no butter in their sauces used with the veggies; whole grain breads instead of carbo-rich white; no fatty glop (ranch!) on the salads; and no frying of those potatos in saturated fat oil.

If they're doing this, your macho portly boyfriend won't like it, especially at those prices, but tell him you want him to be around 50 years from now to hang out with.”

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13. Phyllis Stein-Novack said... on Mar 19, 2012 at 03:51PM

“Dear Slim:

READ my review several times. Vedge is a vegan restaurant. The chef does NOT use any dairy products whatsoever. There are NO animal proteins on the menu. Nothing that swims, nothing that flies, nothing that roams the earth.

Ever item is freshly prepared. The pastry chef bakes the bread herself. Vedge is not a diner where you get a choice of salad dressing. So you will not find ranch there.

I urge all of you who crave a unique dining experience to visit this wonderful restaurant.”

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14. P.M. said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 08:20AM

“I cannot believe some of the ignorant comments here. Just go to the **** restaurant and enjoy the food, if you want. If you think you're not going to like the patrons there, then find another restaurant; there's about a million choices in the city. Grow up.”

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15. Anonymous said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 01:48PM

“The reason we have restaurant reviews, P.M., is to enlighten us and relieve our ignorance. You want people to go to a restaurant and blow, say, $13 on braciole without a clue as its quality. That's OK for a diner but not for the high-priced restaurants PSN is telling us about. So if you want people to go to the **** restaurant and (possibly) enjoy the food, then tell the reviewer PSN to quit her job and blow off. Most of us, however, appreciate her contributions.

As for the clientele, we had helpful comments from Center City Dweller. If clientele are a concern, there are NOT a million choices for a good vegan restaurant, so I think most of us appreciated that input and will likewise skip your advice on that subject.

Grownups act on reason. Others act on impulse. Both approaches have their upsides, but the latter group has no business calling people ignorant.”

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16. Jack said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 02:44PM

“Anon sounds like the have a 'brociole' up their bunghole.”

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17. Jill said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 05:55PM

“He DOES have braciole up his bunghole. I'm like, read the review, be inspired, or not. Go there and have a good meal, or not. If the people around you are obnoxious, complain to mgmt. If the problem is they just give you the creeps, then I think YOU are the one with a problem.”

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18. Baloney said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 06:06PM

“Sorry, but any braciole I ever had was MEAT. No substitutes please. And all Italians I know call it Involtini.”

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19. Joanlee said... on Mar 21, 2012 at 06:32PM

“Agree with Jill and Jack, and PM. Just try the place out - if you're concerned about the clientele or the potential cost: here's an idea - just go for a few cocktails and then you won't give a **** about who's there or not. Life's too short.”

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