This week, I finally got to check out a restaurant I’ve been wanting to visit – Vedge. Vedge is a “vegetable restaurant” with a plant-based menu located in Center City, Philadelphia. It’s highly regarded as one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, as well as one of the best vegan restaurants vegetarian restaurants in the entire country. Read on to learn more about Vedge and to see our full review!
Vedge is run by husband and wife team, James Beard nominated Chefs Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby. The restaurant opened in 2011 with the goal of creating “a modern plant based dining experience”. Located on 12th and Locust streets, Vedge is housed in the Tiger Building, a historic Frank Furness creation. The brownstone features an impressive fireplace, dark wood features, and simple decor that complements the elegance of the building.
Vedge’s menu is entirely plant-based and changes to highlight seasonal local produce, although some favorites have stuck around. The bar menu is also impressive, featuring natural wines, craft beer, and seasonally changing cocktails.
Our Review of Vedge
I was excited to try Vedge – while I do eat meat, my diet is mostly vegetarian and I love an inventive plant-based dish. Upon arriving, we were quickly seated at our table in the main dining room. We passed by the well-lit bar with wines hung horizontally along the wall, and I made a mental note to come back for happy hour. We quickly received water and menus, along with a warm welcome from our server, Harry.
To start, I ordered the Fascinator cocktail, with bourbon, passionfruit, chili, and aquafaba. My date ordered the Don’t Call Me Shirley, with vodka, cherry, lime, and soda.
The cocktails looked and tasted great. The Don’t Call Me Shirley was just sweet enough, with a fresher cherry flavor than your standard Dirty Shirley. The Fascinator was a great balance of sweet passionfruit and bourbon, with a slight kick from the chili powdered across the drink.
The food at Vedge is served “medium plate” style, smaller than an entree but larger than tapas-style servings. Our server recommended getting 2-3 dishes per person, so we decided on six dishes total, sampling from each section of the menu. The first dish we tried was the rutabaga fondue, served with “today’s soft pretzel, yesterday’s pickles”. It was impressive to see such a creamy fondue at a vegan restaurant – you’d never know that it was entirely plant based and made with rutabaga.
The pretzel was still warm and paired perfectly with the fondue, and the pickled vegetables were a great accompaniment, adding some acidity.
The stuffed avocado was the next dish we tried, with an almond romesco sauce, pickled cauliflower, crispy rice and black salt. The presentation was impressive, as was the flavor. The avocado was stuffed with the cauliflower, and underneath was the crispy rice which had a texture similar to chichironnes.
The romesco sauce brought the dish together beautifully. I was impressed with this inventive avocado dish for its flavors that stepped away from the standard avocado toast pairings. The next dish we tried, and my personal favorite, was the grilled summer squash. The grilled squash was served with smoked chili adobo, salsa vera cruz, and creamy quinoa.
While the dish sounded simple enough on the menu, it was expertly grilled to seriously enhance the flavor. The adobo, salsa, and quinoa were lovely additions, but it was the perfectly cooked squash that impressed me the most. They were charred just the right amount so that you could really taste the grilled flavor. I’ll be spending the rest of my summer over the grill trying to recreate the texture and flavor from this dish.
Next, we tried the peas and pole beans, with fregola, lemon, mint, and crunchy sunflower. This dish was not overwhelming in flavor, but it had an extremely fresh taste and a nice crunchy texture. My date’s favorite dish was the grilled broccoli steak. While I wasn’t initially drawn to this item on the menu, I’m glad we ordered it because it was probably the best broccoli I’ve had. Again, the broccoli was grilled to perfection, with just the right amount of char and plenty of that savory grilled flavor.
The broccoli was served with pastrami spice, a smoked white bean salad, kohlrabi, horseradish, and sorrel. The white bean salad and the vegetables that made up the rest of the sauce on the plate complemented the broccoli perfectly, adding lots of flavor and a creaminess to go with the charred vegetable. We were sure to clean the plate with the last few bites of broccoli and beans. Our final dish was the spicy dan dan noodles with sichuan pepper, pickled chile, creamy sesame, black vinegar glazed trumpet mushrooms.
The mushrooms were the star of the dish, with plenty of spicy noodles to accompany them. The spice level was great, just enough to have me reaching for my drink without being overpowering.
We loved our meal at Vedge! It was clear in every dish that the ingredients were extremely fresh, and the flavors were inventively paired. I sometimes feel that many plant-based restaurants serve very similar cuisine, but everything at Vedge brought new flavors or different combinations than I’ve tried before.
Another important note that I’ve mentioned already is how well prepared each item was. Every vegetable was expertly cooked to the perfect texture and taste, bringing different flavors out of common veggies. Vedge does an excellent job of creating delicious vegetable dishes, and also making those dishes filling and exciting. While I love vegetables already, I think that even a committed carnivore would enjoy Vedge’s offerings, and the experience has me excited to try some new ideas in the kitchen.
We enjoyed our meal at Vedge – tell us about your experience, or tell us what restaurant we should review next in the comments!
If you’re interested in Vedge, check out other top-rated vegetarian restaurants in the US or other great spots to eat around Philadelphia!