Balance is the word that comes to mind while eating at V Street, the new vegan restaurant located in the Rittenhouse neighborhood of Center City Philadelphia. Innovative chef-owner duo Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, the people behind the Washington Square West restaurant Vedge, have finally opened the doors to their latest endeavor, a bar and small plates restaurant inspired by global street food.
Similar to Vedge, V Street’s fine dining counterpart, the menu relies heavily on in-season produce, and again makes vegetables the star. But V Street separates itself by implementing bolder, spicier flavors, drawing influences from all over the world, and providing a more casual dining influence, both in plates and atmosphere.
Upon walking in, there is a feeling of familiarity. Granite and wood with soft lighting creates a beautiful atmosphere for any outing, whether it’s to suck back a few drinks with coworkers at happy hour, or a fun, cozy date night.
The bar has interesting, well thought out drinks on the menu. The appropriately named Colonel Mustard in the Library with a Dagger was an unapologetically mustard-flavored cocktail which somehow worked. I was forced to order a second one, just to be on the safe side. Yup, still amazing. Composed of gin, cocchi, and mustard, and garnished with a pickle, it tasted like sipping honey mustard through a straw.
Being both a huge coffee and bourbon fan, I also opted for the Lokum at the Bazaar, comprised of bourbon, jelab, and Turkish coffee, served over a single ice cube in an adorable ceramic version of a classic Greek diner to-go coffee cup. And if none of the drinks on the menu sound appealing, the very talented bartender is happy to whip something up that will fit any individual’s preferences.
Most of the food is served on the spicy side. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t think it’s a meal until you’re crying from the heat, I highly recommend asking for their homemade hot sauce. It magically goes with everything. The food menu is divided into four sections: Street Snacks, Market, Plates, and Bowls. It is recommended to have two to three plates per person. Everything except the bowls are small plates, so it’s a great place to go to if you love to share.
I was blown away by the market greens, the harissa grilled cauliflower, the carrot asado, the jerk trumpet mushrooms, and the langos. Each dish had a spicy component, and a cooling component.
The market greens consisted of spinach with braised turnips and honshimeji mushrooms marinated in an XO sauce. While the ingredients were very humble, the flavors were very complex. A little sweet, a little salty, a little spicy, with the mushrooms adding the perfect umami experience.
The harissa grilled cauliflower was served over a bed of spiced avocado with green olive chermoula, an impressive interpretation of a traditional Moroccan marinade. The avocado paired with the heat of the dish was a wonderful juxtaposition of flavors.
The carrot Asado was served with smoked black lentils and curtido, a cabbage relish. The carrots were perfectly glazed in a barbecue sauce, wonderfully soft in texture, and the curtido provided a nice balance of tartness with the sweet sauce.
I may have a love/hate relationship with mushrooms, but for the jerk trumpet mushrooms I felt nothing but love love love. Marinated in a dark rum jerk rub and served with a side of extremely impressive sweet potato salad.
The Langos was served on a puffed, buttery-tasting pita with finely chopped smoked beets and dill with a side of sauerkraut remoulade for dipping. The sauerkraut remoulade provided both a creaminess and bite that rounded out the dish.
Delicious complimentary caramel popcorn was brought over while a digestif was enjoyed. A wonderful end to an impressive, delicious meal.