Charcoal Bistro’s vegan dinner series has been welcomed with praise from both plant-based eaters and traditional diners. The Washington Park New American restaurant doesn't typically serve vegan items on its contemporary, seasonal menu, but when executive chef Patrik Landberg learned that one of his cook’s girlfriend was vegan, they started tossing around the idea of doing a vegan dinner at the bistro.
“After doing vegan dinners a couple of times, we got a kick out of doing vegan food,” says Landberg.
Past multi-course dinners were organized by a theme (beyond being meat- and dairy-free) – Asian and Fall Harvest, for example. Some of the favorites include bao buns with hoisin-glazed mushrooms and pickled cucumber; ramen with plant-based egg in a creamy vegetable broth; spinach and mushroom ravioli with black garlic sauce; a Swedish fish fry with tartar sauce, fingerling potatoes, and fresh herbs; and a chile relleno with pumpkin hash and pico de gallo.
Dessert hasn’t been an afterthought, by any means. Sweet options have included an apple tart with coconut ice cream and candied pecans; mochi with taro, sake, ginger, and mint; and a molten chocolate cake with drunken cherry gelato.
Landberg explains that it really isn’t much different cooking without meat and dairy. It just comes down to making substitutions and not necessarily just thinking what vegan food they can make.
“We always start writing a menu that we would like to eat, and then figure out how to make it vegan,” he explains. “The inspiration is good and healthy food, and not just fake chicken.”
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Landberg says the feedback has been extremely positive, with people wanting to come back for more chef's dinners.
The Winter Provisions Vegan Dinner will take place on Thursday, December 6, from 5 to 9 p.m. The four-course dinner will start out with an alcohol-free "flu shot" cold pressed juice. The first course will be pumpkin ravioli in brown butter with sage and hazelnuts, followed by a beluga lentil red chile soup with jalapeño and “bacon” dust. Next up are potato pancakes with “caviar,” dill ranch dressing and fresh herbs. It all ends with Death by Chocolate ala Tom: almond milk pot de crème, truffles and cookies. The cost is $37 per person.
Charcoal Bistro is located at 1028 South Gaylord Street. Call 303-953-8718 for reservations, or visit charcoalbistro.com for more information.