September 17, 2012

Date Night: Vedge and Barbuzzo

With Bryan working night shifts for two weeks straight, it's hard to find time to spend together, let alone actually see each other awake. When he had a random Tuesday night off though I decided to make reservations at Vedge, the vegan restaurant run by married couple Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby. We had previously been fans out their old restaurant Horizons (which used to be conveniently located all of two blocks from our old place in South Philly), so our trip to Vedge had been long overdue.

Vedge is located in what seems to be a new hot spot for restaurants on the 1200 block of Locust St in the heart of the Gayborhood (and location of recently relocated Fish, a new Green Eggs Cafe location, and the newly opened Spiga). The space is gorgeous with a large, well stocked, white marble bar welcoming you when you walk in. Bryan ordered a Penicillin Cocktail (Dewars blended scotch with housemade ginger-agave syrup), while I longing glanced at the other tasty sounding drinks as I sipped on water. We were then lead to our table in the nicely refinished dining room, where I was happy to find that I would be sitting on a nicely cushioned bench (a pregnant lady treat).

The menu is composed of smaller dishes that are meant to be shared (veggie tapas!). There's a more permanent seasonal menu and then a daily "dirt list" that contains the day's fresh veggie options. We started with the very tasty peel and eat lupini beans, seasoned with piri piri and roasted garlic. Next we shared the sweet potato pate and the crowder bean & farro “Jambalaya”. The pate was delicious spread over warm bread and accompanied with some jerk seasoned cashews. The jambalaya was topped with jalapeno corn bread and was a nice hearty stew, if a little on the peppery side. We then moved on the final course where we shared the spicy grilled tofu, the grilled seitan, and some spicy, crispy cauliflower. Both the tofu and seitan dishes were reminiscent of main dishes previously served at Horizons and just as delicious. Overall, it was a lot of food and we were both quite full at the end of our meal. The change over to smaller plates has the advantage of allowing you to sample a variety of different dishes, but I couldn't help missing the rare joy of enjoying a well composed vegan entree (such a rarity even in a very veg-friendly city). The atmosphere is great for an intimate dinner for two, while it would also be a fun spot for a larger group - if only because you could try more dishes out.

Now even though Kate Jacoby makes some really tasty vegan desserts (I still dream about a pumpkin cheesecake I had at Horizons), we decided to take a short walk to digest our dinner and then head over to nearby Barbuzzo for some coffee and their renowned budino dessert (composed of butterscotch pudding, dark chocolate cookie crust, and salted caramel - yummm). Chef Marcie Turney and partner Valarie Safran own pretty much the entire block of South 13th st south of Market St, and Barbuzzo represents their Mediterranean inspired venture. I used to frequent Barbuzzo a lot with my friend Michelle, where we would always sit at the bar and share the sheep's milk ricotta and daily veggie board. The restaurant itself is always packed and was still rather crowded at 9:30pm on a Tuesday night. Thankfully we could still grab a spot at the bar and enjoy a really nice end to our impromptu date night.

BONUS: make your own budino for a tasty night in or impress your next dinner guests. the recipe can be found over at Bon Appetit. (or if you live in philly, just order a set of 6 to take home from We Heart Philly).

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