Dinner at Fancy Radish in Washington, D.C. | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Twenty-Four

This is the blog post equivalent of a #latergram: an extremely belated review of a dinner I enjoyed in March (!). (Why now? I’m on a long-weekend vacation with Steven, so no new content till Tuesday! Pre-scheduled posts to the rescue.)

For my birthday this past March, Steven and I visited Fancy Radish, a new-ish vegan restaurant in D.C. that we’d been meaning to hit up since it opened in early 2018. Helmed by the same team that made Philly’s Vedge the plant-based hotspot it is today, the Fancy Radish has gotten rave reviews from all my friends who’ve visited. The perfect spot for a birthday dinner! And the perfect opportunity for a Fancy Radish review, only five months late. :)

I really love the concept: you order a bunch of small dishes and share them with your dining companions. It’s a spin on the tapas experience, except here the server brings them in carefully considered courses rather than all at once, and the servings are a little larger. Our waitress recommended that we share four to five dishes, so we went with five “medium” plates. It was my birthday! Time to splash out and eat up.

I started with a cocktail, and I’m 99% sure it was the Marbles Found: tequila, bitter rose, and grapefruit. I’m a sucker for grapefruit! I really enjoyed this, even though I don’t usually drink tequila outside of a margarita.

Our first course was the rutabaga fondue, a truly heavenly crock of mild, gooey goodness served with a pretzel roll and a small bowl of lightly pickled veggies. (They had me at “pretzel roll,” tbh.) Would I ever have paired pickled vegetables with fondue on my own? I would not. Was it amazing? It was. Ugh, this was such a perfect starter. As soon as I tasted that fondue, I knew the hype about Fancy Radish was real and I could not wait to experience the rest of the meal.

Next up were two dishes served at once: the eponymous fancy radishes (a plate of roasted and raw radishes served with a yuzu-avocado puree) and a Chioggia beet “lox” toast. The radishes, if I’m being honest, underwhelmed. There wasn’t a lot of substance there, and thinking back on the meal today, I barely remember that we ordered this dish! I really enjoyed the beet lox, though. It was served with some kind of creamy spread and an herby topping. Someone in the kitchen must be exceedingly proficient with a mandoline, because those beets were sliced incredibly finely! I really appreciated that the lox flavor was not overwhelming. I’ve had some plant-based lox dishes that were just overpoweringly smoked, including one salad topped with carrot lox that I had to stop eating because it was burning my mouth! No such issues here.

For our final course, we had the shaved brassicas and spicy dan dan noodles. The former was tasty, but not my favorite. The shaved Brussels sprouts came heavily dressed with a smoked mustard sauce and crispy shiitakes, but by the time the plate got to us it was all kind of lukewarm and limp — not ideal conditions for my beloved Brussels sprouts. Those dan dan noodles were killer, however. They packed a serious spicy punch thanks to the liberal use of Sichuan peppers, but I couldn’t stop eating! The bowl also included a topper of fried five-spiced glazed mushrooms along with a respectable helping of noodles.

These five dishes were the perfect amount of food for the two of us. If we’d planned to order dessert, I would’ve gone down to four savory dishes instead. (Steven had made me a birthday cake, though, so no dessert needed this time!) I was blown away with how fresh and creative and nuanced the flavors were; it was some of the best vegan food I’ve had. (Even the dishes that underwhelmed were still creative and tasty!) For a splurge meal, it was totally worth it. The menu changes seasonally, so I’m eager to return and try some new options. Perhaps for my 10-year veganniversary this October…?!

Apologies for the photo quality; Fancy Radish had “atmospheric” lighting, shall we say.

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The Best Places for Vegan Brunch in D.C. and Maryland | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty-Eight

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Four: Entertaining
Brunch: the under-appreciated get-together meal.

‘Round these parts, brunch is most definitely not an under-appreciated meal! It’s a weekend tradition for many, and whenever I have friends or family visiting, Steven and I nearly always take them for brunch. We’re lucky to have a few top-notch vegan brunch choices in Maryland and D.C., so I figured I’d share them with you today. (If you’re looking for a whopping big post of DIY vegan brunch recipes and inspiration, I direct you here.) Now, on to the list! Here are my recommendations for the best vegan brunch in Maryland.

Great Sage

I never ever regret going to Clarksville-based Great Sage for brunch. Although I’m occasionally disappointed by their main dinner dishes, which can sometimes lack creativity, their brunch selection is consistently solid. They always have a perfect mix of savory and sweet options, so all your dining companions should be able to find something that appeals. Plus, they have boozy breakfast drinks — including a massive vegan Bloody Mary! I’ve enjoyed quite a few Great Sage brunches in my day, such as the crabcake sandwich, their amazing pierogi quesadillas, and their yummy breakfast sandwich (featuring a tofu egg, sausage, and cheese). You’d also do well to get one of their signature cinnamon buns to go — they are massive and delicious.

 

Glory Doughnuts

I’ve sung the praises of this Frederick-based establishment a fair few times over the past few months, and for good reason. Not only are their doughnuts top-notch, but they have a fabulous and creative selection of all-day brunch eats! Think PBR-infused Belgian waffles, big ol’ plates of huevos rancheros, and decadent apple pie stuffed French toast. Their coffee is also exceptional; it’s from a local woman-owned, fair-trade roaster and is just really, really tasty. Get here early to make sure there are doughnuts available, and stake your spot early — tables fill up fast!

Smoke and Barrel

Tofu scramble and Smoke & Barrel in D.C.

For a vegan brunch in D.C. proper, Smoke and Barrel in Adams Morgan is an excellent choice. Yes, it’s a BBQ and bourbon joint. But if you can get past all that BBQ, you’ll be rewarded with some surprisingly creative vegan brunch options, like a a house-made sweet potato and oat burger and a massive chili-cheese tofu scramble (featuring Daiya). They even have vegan wings! I ordered the tofu scramble last Galentine’s Day when I was out with my ladies and did not regret it. It comes with a massive pile of tofu scramble; a smoky, spicy chili; thick slabs of Texas toast; and crumbly delicious home fries. And although we ordered a mimosa pitcher on that day, Smoke and Barrel also has brunch cocktails! The Happy Trails (bourbon, peach liqueur, orange bitters, soda water) sounds particularly nice.

Fare Well

Owned and operated by Doron Petersan — the same brilliant gal who started Sticky Fingers bakery — Fare Well is an old-fashioned (yet all-vegan) diner with plenty of brunch and breakfast options. Truth be told, I’ve never actually been here for brunch — just for small snacks (including the croissant pictured above), but I really need to rectify that mistake. Just look at that menu: French toast casserole, featuring challah French toast?! Seitan and waffles?!? Cookie dough pancakes?!?!? Give me a break! I have no doubt everything is excellent, and I need to get here stat.

Sticky Fingers

No list of vegan spots in D.C. would be complete without Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, Petersan’s original vegan joint. It’s really more of a bakery than a full restaurant, but you can still enjoy brunch at this small cafe. The weekend brunch menu is small but features a few options similar to those at Fare Well — challah French toast, for example. You can also get biscuits and gravy, a breakfast burrito, and a few other options. I’ve been to Sticky Fingers plenty of times and have never been disappointed.

Other options

The buffet-style vegan Sunday brunch at Equinox is a bit of a legend around here, but somehow I’ve never been. It’s $35 a head — excluding drinks, which will set you back ~$11 each. That’s a bit steep for me; I have a small stomach and buffets don’t play to my eating style (I prefer smaller but frequent meals, spread out throughout the day). Still, I know I should try it — with options like a chickpea cassoulet, stuffed whole-grain French toast, and a tofu scramble station, I’m sure it would be a great experience.

NuVegan Café in College Park is one of our favorite spots for comfort food: I can never pass up their mac ’n’ cheese, their fried chicken “dummies,” or their garlicky kale salad. They also have brunch, though I’ve never tried it. But the options are vast and varied, with everything from oatmeal to pancakes to omelettes, and I’m willing to bet it’s all quite tasty.

Local chain Founding Farmers is an oft-hailed farm-to-table establishment with vegan-friendly main dishes (including the Impossible Burger). They allegedly have vegan options as part of their set-price brunch buffet, but their online menu is unclear. That’s a shame — and a missed opportunity. I’m not about to pay upwards of $30 when there’s a chance I’ll only have fruit and toast for breakfast.


This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I haven’t even touched Baltimore! I’m sure there are plenty of other spots in D.C. with vegan options, but I live far enough from the city that a trip in for brunch is rare. I’ll update this list if I try any great new places, though.

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The best vegan brunch spots in Maryland and D.C. // govegga.com

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In Which I Try to Link Empanadas with My MoFo Theme

Happy Saturday! If you think this post is going up much later in the day than any of my other MoFo posts have, well… you’re absolutely right. Truth be told, I don’t have anything particularly fruity to blog about today! We desperately need to hit up the grocery store: there’s no almond milk in the fridge and my fruit supplies are running low. Plus, we spent much of today in DC at the Corcoran, gettin’ our culture on. All that art* wore me out; I slept through most of the metro ride home. I’m still waiting for my second wind!

So… where will the seasonal fruit come into this post, you ask? Oh, don’t worry. I’m about to make an extremely tenuous connection.

After leaving the Corcoran, we were hungry. Not wanting to drop a huge chunk of change on lunch, we’d looked up cheaper options in the area, and Julia’s Empanadas popped up in my search as a venue that offers a rotating vegan option. There are four locations in DC, one of which is a 15-minute walk from the Corcoran and decently close to the Dupont Circle metro. Sold! Today, their veg option featured spinach, white beans, onions, and a few other assorted veggies. Neither S nor I could really discern a distinct and overriding flavor, but we detected a hint of curry. But that’s not to say they were bland! Instead, they were richly flavorful and warming on a slightly chilly September day. S and I each got one but ended up returning for a third to share.

empanada_9743456682_o

But I don’t want to overpraise the empanadas’ innards at the expense of their… outards…? Hm. Invented words aside, the empanada dough was slightly sweet, with a flavor of its own that comes from butternut squash, which is—botanically speaking—a fruit. BAM. Themed!

What did you do today? What’s your favorite empanada filling?

*More specifically, the war photos exhibit. Wow. Incredibly moving and not for the faint of heart or stomach. Highly recommended if you’re in the area!

Vegan Eats in Maryland and DC: Part I

Greetings from Rhode Island! After spending five fantastic days in Maryland with S, I hopped on a quick one-hour flight to Rhode Island. Now I’m chillin’ with my family until S joins us late Christmas night. So far I’ve baked one batch of cookies (Five-Spice Snaps from Hannah Kaminsky’s Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season), taken the train up to Boston to visit friends, and otherwise just schlepped around in my super-comfy new plushy bathrobe. Tomorrow we’ll do lots more Christmas baking and food prepping, so I’ll feel a bit more productive.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – I have some Maryland-related eats to share! I was blown away by all the veg-friendly restaurants S and I encountered in MD (and DC), so I figured I’d share ’em! I highly recommend all of these places – each one was impressive in its own right, and definitely worth a visit. I’m splitting this post into two, though, because I’m prone to ramblin’ and it’d get mighty lengthy if I didn’t!

Great Sage in Clarksville, MD

S’s mom treated us to dinner at Great Sage on one of our first nights in Maryland. Their menu is totally vegan, and their dishes feature local and organic ingredients. We started with the Artichoke-Spinach Dip appetizer, a chunky dip with just the right amount of mozzarella Daiya. Spooned onto crusty crostini rounds, it made for a creamy and satisfying start to our meal. For my main dish, I went with the Santa Fe Salad because I was in the mood for something a little on the light side. The salad was fantastic. Mixed baby greens, black beans, roasted corn, red onions, and tomatoes were perfectly coated in a delicious house-made lime-cilantro dressing, then topped with a generous scoop of guacamole, a light sprinkling of cheddar Daiya, and finished off with tortilla strips and big cubes of marinated tofu. The combination was perfect, and I really loved the dressing – it was tangy and flavorful without being overpowering. I was slightly disappointed with the tofu, which seemed a little bland for my tastes – grilling or broiling it might’ve fit better with the theme of the dish. But otherwise, it was perfect and completely filling.

If only you could smell the dressing!

Sticky Fingers Bakery in Washington, DC

Man… I am so envious of anyone who has easy access to an all vegan-bakery like Sticky Fingers. On our list of stuff to do in DC, “visit Sticky Fingers” was right alongside things like “go to museums” and “visit the Botanic Gardens.” As soon as we arrived in the District, we headed straight for the bakery for breakfast and a coffee fix. S enjoyed the Breakfast Burrito, a whole-grain tortilla filled with tofu scramble, black beans, Daiya, tomato, and a generous helping of spinach. Because he’s a generous gent, he offered me many bites, and I can attest that it’s a solid breakfast option. The addition of ketchup made it even better, until some uptight indie boy came over and demanded that S return the ketchup then didn’t even crack a smile when S laughingly apologized for hoarding it. Uptight Indie Boy, you give vegans a bad name and I do not want to be associated with you. Anyway, S also sipped this pretty cappuccino:

Swirly!

I did not get anything nearly as fancy for my breakfast. I enjoyed a simple (but really tasty) cup of coffee along with a Cranberry-Ginger Muffin, their seasonal muffin flavor. I can’t remember the last time I ate a muffin that neither I nor my mom baked, so it was a real treat to enjoy a light, fluffy, bakery-style muffin that I didn’t have to lift a finger to prepare. If the ginger had been a little more prominent, it would’ve been an absolutely perfect breakfast! In fact, it was so good that I forgot to take a photo until I was halfway done eating.

Proof of this muffin's deliciousness.

S and I had plans to return to Sticky Fingers for dessert later in the day, but that didn’t pan out. Alas! I really wanted to try a Peppermint Fudge Brownie. Maybe one day!

Pho 14 in Washington, DC

After a morning of ogling gems and minerals and questioning the necessity of a Chilean miners exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, S and I met up with two of his college friends for lunch. S introduced me to pho when we were in Chicago over the summer and I really enjoyed it, but sadly, Madison’s vegan pho offerings are non-existent. We made our own version once, but it wasn’t quite the same. So, S was pleased to discover Pho 14, which offers both traditional pho options and a more animal-friendly variety. While S opted for a veg bowl of pho, I went for something slightly different – Bun Chay, described rather sparsely as “vegetables with fried and dyed tofu.” I received a big ol’ bowl of yummy tofu, slightly pickled veggies, thin, round rice noodles, and even more fresh veggies, all of which tasted fantastic when doused in a sweet chili sauce. It was the perfect meal, the kind that fills you up yet doesn’t leave your tummy feeling heavy or uncomfortable. It was light, clean, and absolutely delicious, and it provided me with lots of energy for perusing the fantastic collections at the National Gallery of Art.

…and that’s it for this installment! I’ll talk about the rest of my yummy eats soon. But first – what fabulous restaurants did I miss in DC?! What’s your favorite travel destination, food-wise? 

And also… happy holidays! :)