I’m a wanna-be vegan.
There, I said it. I really, really would love to be vegan for many reasons other than just those related to health (and after reading the book ‘Skinny Bitch’, also for animal cruelty purposes). But alas, cheese and butter will never fully allow me to go down the path of being a true vegan. And I’m ok with that. I love pizza and cupcakes way too much to give them up forever. Moderation is the way to go!
With that being said, in the past few years I have taken more of an interest in nutrition, vegetarianism and veganism. I even attended one of the seminars by Karen Calabrese, who really kick-started the raw vegan movement here in Chicago. She has several restaurants, one of which is Karyn’s on Green, a vegan restaurant in the West Loop (not a raw restaurant). My friend Anu decided to treat me to a belated birthday dinner there last year and I was excited to try it.
I can’t remember what we ordered exactly, but I remember not really being a fan. It was super greasy, extremely salty and just nothing worth writing home about (or a blog post about)!! A bad, first, vegan dining experience for me. (I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and say we had a bad “batch” and I should probably go back to give it a second shot. I actually have heard a lot of great things about the restaurant). It’s funny and unfortunate how that type of not-so-stellar first-time experience can make you jaded for future experiences (so true about a lot of things in life, not just restaurants).
Fast forward to this summer when my brother Niral and I are heading to Philadelphia for a night to see his fiance, Prachi. All three of us are vegetarian and love great food, so when Prachi was making plans for our visit she asked if I had any restaurant preferences. My answer was, “Something awesome, that you love, that I can’t get in Chicago or NYC.”
So, when Prachi suggested a vegan restaurant called Vedge, I won’t lie, I was not super thrilled from the outset. I got flashbacks from Karyn’s on Green and that dinner I didn’t really care for. But, I totally trust Prachi and her judgement, so I said I was cool to try out Vedge. I was hoping that this experience would help me get over my vegan restaurant phobia, that I didn’t even really realize I had.
The verdict? Hands-down, one word, AMAZING!! I was seriously blown away by every single thing we ordered. Wow!! I absolutely loved the ambience, loved the food and was impressed with their attention to detail on everything. The restaurant is really much more of a high-end, vegan dining experience.
Between Prachi, Niral and myself, we ordered 2 appetizers, one soup, 3 entrees and 2 desserts. We were definitely stuffed, even though these are considered small plates (the appetizers were on the smaller size, but the entrees were definitely very substantial). Niral and I were so full that we skipped breakfast the next morning because we were not even hungry yet! A true sign that we really enjoyed what we ate.
I just checked the restaurant’s website and it seems that Vedge changes their menus pretty frequently. It probably doesn’t make sense to recommend all of the particular dishes we got because they probably won’t be on the menu. I will also put this out there. Since I’m not a professional food photographer *yet* (and by no means claim to be), the pictures I took of our food on my iphone weren’t that good. Actually, Niral totally made fun of me saying, “You can’t post all of those pictures. They do no justice to how awesome the food tastes”! Gotta love the blatant truth that can only be told by a sibling.
So, to reduce the risk of scaring you all from trying the restaurant, I’m only showing the two most decent looking pictures. These were Niral’s main course (spicy grilled tofu, gochujang, edamame, smoked miso, yuba cracklin) and one of the desserts, blueberry cheesecake.
Niral’s dish was very flavorful and so beautifully presented. We joked that the tofu looked like a grilled piece of fish. The cheesecake was phenomonal. You couldn’t even tell it was vegan and that dairy and butter were missing from it. I have had other vegan cheesecakes and never liked either the taste or texture, but this one tasted like the real deal. Majorly impressed.
So, you really have to take my word on this place and check out Vedge. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything you order since we loved everything we got. And you will be happy to know that not only am I over my vegan restaurant phobia, I got over it so quickly that two days after our Vedge experience, Niral took me to a popular vegan restaurant in NYC called Candle Cafe, which I also loved. Stay tuned to read all about that!