Today is my father’s birthday. We spent some time with my family and wow, it was a pretty hectic week! Wishing you guys a lovely Thanksgiving with your loved ones, have a fantastic weekend! xx
We stayed in the heart of Philadelphia for two nights in early November. The weather was predictably cold, yet sunny. This wasn’t our first time in Philadelphia, we also visited in the Fall of 2011, view our older posts here. Today I will be sharing dishes we tried at Vedge Restaurant, a vegan fine dining restaurant in the historic Tiger Building on Locust Street, and HipCity Veg, Nicole Marquis’ wonderful concept for vegan fast-food in Rittenhouse Square. We went to both places twice during our trip and loved them. Apparently the owner of HipCityVeg Nicole Marquis used to work with Vedge Chef Rich Landau, which was pretty neat. Chef Rich Landau has also appeared on an episode of Food Network’s cooking show Chopped (Spoilers: he won!).
For accommodation, we stayed at the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel. Located a block from Rittenhouse Square, we were within walking distance to both HipCity Veg and Vedge Restaurant. The hotel room was cozy (with a very comfortable bed) and outfitted with everything we needed to make our stay an easy one. Most of all, we appreciated the fast, free Wi-Fi. I recommend this hotel because it is a good value in an ideal location.
Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel, Philadelphia, PA: While we were there, they were putting the finishing touches on their grand lobby renovations. Fortunately it wasn’t noisy or disturbing in any way. I loved the cool new lighting and decor.
We made two dinner reservations at Vedge Restaurant for consecutive nights. Our table was by the windows, which was pretty lovely. Service was impeccable. I made a copy of their menu from November 13 and 14th (2013), view here, here, and here, if you are interested. The menu comes in two parts: the regular menu with a number of appetizers and entrees, and the “Dirt List”, which changes based on seasonal and local produce. They also have a Happy Hour menu.
Vedge Restaurant: After ordering our food, they brought out fresh bread served with olive oil and a mix of fennel, cumin and dill seeds. Doni wasn’t a fan of the seeds, however the greenish olive oil had a pleasant peppery flavor.
Vedge Restaurant: For drinks, we started with a refreshing Allswell Mocktail (celery, falernum, lime) and a Daisy Cutter beer (Pale Ale / Half Acre, IL).
Vedge Restaurant: For our first dish from the “Dirt List”, we tried the $7 Fingerling Fries tossed in creamy worcestershire sauce. It was one of our favorite dishes at Vedge – little filling potatoes and that tangy-savory creamy sauce. After finishing the plate, we were both SLIGHTLY full.
Vedge Restaurant: I was really excited about this plate, Grilled Broccoli & Funky Kimchee Stew with Black Vinegar Cucumbers ($9). I love kimchee, funky flavors and hot stews, so I had to try it! It wasn’t spicy at all (we both love spicy foods). I also love Chinese black vinegar (and it isn’t a common ingredient used in Western Asian cuisine) and I frequently used the ingredient including my hot and sour soup recipe. I could taste the black vinegar and the tangy kimchee from the stew. It was good, but there was something lacking.
Vedge Restaurant: From “The Vedge Bar” list, we had the $9 Portabella Carpaccio with caper bagna cauda, kohlrabi, and truffle mustard. I love kohlrabi and truffle-based anything. We were impressed with the presentation and the smooth, thin texture of the portabella ‘carpaccio.’ The truffle mustard tasted stunning against the smoky portabella – it was one of our favorite dishes at Vedge.
Vedge Restaurant: Also from the “Dirt List”, we had the $8 Parsnip Puree with truffle and toasted hazelnut: creamy and delicious. The dish will pair well with Grilled Seitan or any of these dishes from the “Hot Kitchen” list. We felt very inspired by this dish and plan to use parsnips more often this winter.
Vedge Restaurant: For desserts, we tried a Apple Cider Doughnut with cranberry marmalade, horseradish cream, cider shooter and a Corn Custard with corn bread crumbs and jalapeño-pomegranate gastrique. We both loved the Apple Cider Doughnut, it was perfect for two of us to share. These were actually “Cronuts”, a vegan version of a croissant-doughnut hybrid. I typically don’t eat horseradish and was surprised to see it on a dessert dish but Doni insisted on trying it and I am glad we did because the horseradish cream was delicious with the donut!
The Corn Custard is perfect for an individual; the gastrique did not have a jalapeño flavor, but I could taste the dried jalapeños. The Corn Custard reminded me of Asian sweet corn puddings that I used to eat as a kid.
Vedge Restaurant: I had the $9 Pomegrante Sangria with cinnamon stick, red wine, Cointreau, cachaca, pomegranate, fruit and herbs. It was a pretty tasty sangria, I managed to finish the drink and eat all the fruit.
Vedge Restaurant: What a wonderful surprise! The kitchen sent us a complimentary amuse-bouche: mushroom cilantro tartare with a peruvian aji chili sauce and cumin. What AN interesting and unique amuse-bouche, thank you Vedge!
Vedge Restaurant: After looking at Vedge food photos online, the $10 Fancy Radishes dish from “The Vedge Bar” list appealed to me because of the presentation and the vegetable varieties. When they brought out the dish, it looked very beautiful on the slate. There were all sorts of radishes, vegetables, avocado and braised tofu. The tamari wasn’t smoked at all – it was just tamari, and we didn’t use tamari at all since the pieces were already well seasoned.
Vedge Restaurant: We tried Fresh Hearts of Palm with buckwheat crepe, tandoor tomatoes and cauliflower curry. Several foodies on Instagram told us to try the Grilled Seitan after my first night at Vedge – and yes, we loved it, but it needed to be paired with something, for example, Parsnip Puree. The Grilled Seitan dish was served with swiss chard, whipped tahini, pickled turnips and za’atar. Both of the dishes were from the “Hot Kitchen” list on the menu.
Vedge Restaurant: Fresh Hearts of Palm with buckwheat crepe, tandoor tomatoes and cauliflower curry. It was one of my favorite hot dishes at Vedge. I love the cauliflower curry and the buckwheat crepe “cannoli” had a bit of ‘crab meat’ texture, overall it was pretty delicious. You can dip the complimentary bread in the cauliflower curry, too.
Vedge Restaurant: Fresh Hearts of Palm with buckwheat crepe, tandoor tomatoes and cauliflower curry + Grilled Seitan dish with swiss chard, whipped tahini, pickled turnips and za’atar
Vedge Restaurant: $9 Chocolate Uber Chunk with pretzel-peanut crust, malt custard, and stout ice cream: A must to try at Vedge, it’s filling and it has everything we love – pretzel, peanut butter, and chocolate. At first, we were a bit put off by the name because we initially thought the dessert was mostly chocolate, but after looking at few photos online, we were excited to try them! The dessert was probably the most filling I’ve tried so far – so make sure you save some room! The stout ice cream had a nutty texture & flavor. Everything about Chocolate Uber Chunk was stunning and the portion was reasonable for the two of us to share. I couldn’t imagine eating it alone!
Vedge Restaurant: Om om, you know how much I love cheesecakes. I always order vegan and/or raw cheesecakes everywhere I go. I ordered the $9 Cheesecake with carrot cake ice cream, waldorf salad and celery gel & walnut dirt. When it comes to ice cream, you can taste the carrot cake, wow! I was pretty impressed that the flavor of the gel went pretty well with the cheesecake. The desserts may look small, but they are pretty filling.
HipCityVeg is a vegan fast-food eatery serving a variety of salads, burgers & sandwiches, sides, juices and desserts, check out their menu here. They have two locations: Rittenhouse Square and University City. We went to the closer location, Rittenhouse Square, which was within walking distance from our hotel, Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel. What a great place to pick up a quick lunch or dinner in the heart of Philadelphia! It wasn’t too busy at 10am or around 3pm but even when they are busy, they appear to get orders out pretty quickly.
HipCityVeg: This is the Rittenhouse Square location, off S. 18th Street. The restaurant is very small with limited seating. I recommend take out orders.
HipCityVeg: I had their special green “Groothie” smoothie, it has apples, leafy greens, banana, and pineapple (the seasonal fruit at this time) both days. It was pretty good. It makes me miss my blender and juicer more, which I haven’t touched for months due to my travels.
HipCityVeg: From their “Burgers & Sandwiches” list, we ordered Crispy HipCity Ranch ($8.50) with battered chick’n, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles & peppercorn ranch. This was probably the best burger we’ve had on the East Coast. Initially we suspected the sandwich would use Gardein or Beyond Meat but we were pleased to discover it used neither of these. The peppercorn ranch was fantastic and provided a bit of bite.
HipCityVeg: Crispy HipCity Ranch ($8.50) with battered chick’n, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles & peppercorn ranch
HipCityVeg: While in Philly, you’ve got to try a Philly Steak Sandwich! I had the vegan Philly cheese steak sandwich from somewhere else in 2011, but that place was closed. But after trying HipCityVeg’s Philly Steak Sandwich, we were both hooked! The sandwich had grilled onions & mushrooms, lettuce & tomato, long roll & ketchup. What an amazing Philly Steak sandwich – we loved it and ordered it twice during our trip.
HipCityVeg: Philly Steak Sandwich ($8.50) with grilled onions & mushrooms, lettuce & tomato, long roll & ketchup. What tasty sandwich, a must to try while visiting Philly!
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