In a nutshell: Order the savory fingerling fries and piquant crispy cauliflower, along with any other items on the “Dirt List” and dessert menu at this charming spot in Philly’s Washington Square West.
People in the world generally fall into one of four categories:
I fall pretty squarely into the lower right category, so you can imagine my intrigue at dining at Vedge. From the outside, the restaurant is unassuming, blending into the quaint row of apartments on the block it resides on. Once you step inside, though, the restaurant’s polished yet homey interior glows with a pervasive warmth.
Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby—chefs, owners, and a husband-wife team to boot—opened Vedge in Fall 2011, applying what they learned from their experiences running the acclaimed vegan spot Horizons. Vedge’s globally inspired menus use locally sourced ingredients that follow the Northeastern seasons; be sure to pick a dish or two (or eight) off the “Dirt List,” the section of their menu that changes on a daily basis.
Absolutely no animal products are used in Vedge’s kitchen, but don’t be deterred if you’re an avid meat eater: the tapas-style vegan plates will delight the taste buds of omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike.
Crisp and light on the outside, the sweet potato fritters were substantially “meaty” on the inside. An herby cilantro chimmichurri and sofrito oil completed the dish.
The purple carrots arrived on a wooden palette like brushes poised for action, ready to be dipped in splotches of red wine-black olive vinaigrette and savory white bean sauerkraut puree. The dish painted a stunning picture for my taste buds with the carrots’ natural sweetness, the olive vinaigrette’s hint of saltiness, and the sauerkraut puree’s tang.
Flavored with green curry, black vinegar, and spicy sambal, the tongue-tingling spices in the crispy cauliflower are a pleasant surprise, cooled by a creamy aioli on the side.
The potato: such a simple starch, yet such a versatile vegetable. The fingerling fries, accompanied by creamy Worcestershire, was likely my favorite dish of the evening. It was the best recommendation of the night, thanks to one of my dining companions!
This was the first of two mushroom dishes we ordered. The nebrodinis were served “fazzoletti” style (which in Italian loosely translates to “handkerchief”) with oven dried tomato and basil. The simpleness of the dish lets the pure flavors shine through.
The plump pierogi were filled with sweet autumn squash, an inspired take on the classic Polish fried dumpling. Chanterelles, madeira, and hazelnut picada formed a complementary base.
The second of the mushroom dishes involved maitakes paired with a celery root fritter and smoked leek remoulade, a kaleidoscopic combination of tastes and flavors.
The soybean-based grilled tofu took us on a quick getaway to Korea with its Asian-inspired flavors of gochujang, edamame, smoked miso, and yuba cracklin’.
The wheat gluten-based grilled seitan had a denser, chewier texture than the tofu, joined by creamy parsnips, English peas (the biggest I’ve ever seen), and a savory truffle steak sauce.
You won’t believe that this dessert is made without dairy and eggs. The sticky toffee pudding is mind-boggling good, served warm with a refreshing scoop of pumpkin ice cream.
To make your meal even more memorable, the ever-attentive and helpful waitstaff is on top of their game. From assisting in navigating the menu to constantly refilling water glasses, they are there to enhance your dining experience.
By setting a new standard for vegetable cuisine, Vedge demonstrates that vegetables are anything but unexciting: they are the basis for astoundingly fresh, awe-inspiring dishes.
A version of this article originally appeared in Penn Appétit.
1221 Locust St