The Eats: Judkins St. Cafe, 2608 S. Judkins St., 322-1091.
Field Roast dinner with all the fixings: Vegan comfort food to the max!
The Deets: One Monday a month--a night this cozy, "healthy comfort food" serving cafe just off MLK is usually shuttered--owner Michael McGloin partners with a local chef to offer an all-vegetarian prix fixe menu. It's their version of Meatless Mondays, a dining initiative started by the Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health with a goal of helping "you reduce your meat consumption by 15% in order to improve your personal health and the health of the planet." Coinciding with World Vegetarian Day, this past Monday, David Lee--chef-owner of Field Roast--created a three course meal featuring (what else) his grain based meat substitute.
The Beets: With items like chicken pot pie and a pulled pork sandwich on the regular menu, this place is all about comfort food, and most of the all-vegan spread shared similar qualities. That is, except for the raw "tangle" salad of butternut squash, beets, and zucchini (pictured, left). Bright and crisp, delicately dressed with apple cider vinegar and sesame seeds, it was less comfort-food and more palate-cleansing.
But the light starter was a calculated preamble to the main event. The second course, hazelnut crusted Celebration Roast with blackberry citrus beurre blanc, came accompanied with a mouth-watering plateful of sides--south Indian succotash with coconut cream, wild rice and mushroom timbale, garnet yams with shitake-porcini gravy. The hearty fare was a seasonal feast, highlighting the textures and flavors of autumn's bounty, with nary an animal-derived ingredient on site to take the credit. With owner McGloin cheerfully serving the home-style fare himself, Lee casually chatting up tables, and reservations maxed out, the scene took on the feel of a welcoming neighbor's warm and bustling kitchen.
A rustic (raw) apple tart with cashew cream ended the meal. Hearty and slightly sweet, the apples were partially dehydrated with a bit of crunch left in them, reminiscent of a Lara Bar.
With a few glasses of wine, the meal was complete and satisfying, a sensation that brought to mind a comment best-selling vegan author Kathleen Freston made in a recent NY Times piece on vegetarian food moving ever more into the mainstream: "Just because you're a vegan doesn't mean you don't want to have fun. I want to drink. I want to feel full at the end of a meal. I just don't want it to have any animals in it, for a variety of reasons."
The Tweet: Judkins St. Cafe's Meatless Mondays are just that: Fun, filling, and fantastically meat-free.