On a cold evening in 2010, I dined at Vedge, Rich Landau and his wife Kate Jacoby’s soon to be award-winning restaurant on Locust Street. I knew it was a vegan restaurant and arrived with an open mind.
My dinner was one of the finest that year.
Last October, they opened V Street just steps from Rittenhouse Square, defining their fare as “global street food.” It seats fewer than 50 and does not accept reservations.
We arrived about a half-hour after opening and the bar was filled as was the dining room. The kitchen table bar in the back room, where three chefs work their magic, was empty.
Cocktails are small and a bit pricy. A Manhattan was $13.50 and a martini was $12.50. But we noticed the prices were extremely moderate at Vedge’s more casual cousin.
Some ingredients were foreign to me, but I dug into our meal with gusto. Peruvian fries ($7) are potato wedges roasted in the oven and smothered in a creamy (texture, not dairy) sauce of aji Amarillo, which added a little heat, cilantro, olives and chopped peanuts. This dish sent my taste buds to another part of the world.
I thought market greens ($8) would be a salad, but we received beautifully sautéed greens (perhaps mustard greens) which packed a kick. They were topped with thin turnip cakes and tiny enoki mushroom caps.
Next was carrot asado ($8), deep orange beauties that were roasted and bathed in a barbecue glaze and served with black beans. The aroma, flavor and texture were scintillating.
I had no idea of what a langos ($9) was going to be. It looked like a small pizza sliced into four wedges. This dish is prepared with bits of smoked beets mixed with a sauerkraut remouldade topped with small fronds of fragrant dill. I have never tasted a sauerkraut remoulade. The kraut’s tang worked beautifully with sweet beets.
Chefs like Landau are using cauliflower in different ways within the past few years. I have eaten a cauliflower steak or small pieces of the vegetable prepared with Asian spices. At V Street, the cauliflower shawarma ($11) turned this classic Middle Eastern street food into a tasty surprise. A crisp flatbread served as the base for a marvelous mix of tiny bits of cool cucumber, hummus and harissa, the spicy condiment from Tunisia, into one of the most unique dishes I have tasted in recent memory.
We selected Singapore noodles ($12) that were bland. Thin rice noodles were tossed with broccoli, small rectangles of charred tofu, some chopped peanuts and lime sambal. It just needed a bit of pepping up.
A Grenache/Cinsault ($11) imparted a rich flavor while the Elbling ($11) was a crisp dry white similar to a sauvignon blanc.
For dessert we travelled to the Philippines with halo halo ($7) a classic dish that means mush mush. This was served in a pretty parfait glass, was made with taro ice cream, pickled fruit and pineapple granitta. Soft serve of the day was pistachio with two small rectangles of cannoli pastry and covered with hot fudge.
V Street staff is well-trained, pleasant and know how to pace a meal, and our courses came to us in a timely manner.
Landau and Jacoby have brought a unique take on international fare to Rittenhouse Square. There is nothing to match it in the city.
Four tips of the toque to V Street.
126 S. 19th St.
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