Last month, I attended an Exquisite Vegan Dinner at Belly Timber on SE Hawthorne. The dinner was the first in an ongoing series of exclusively vegan, multi-course dinners at restaurants specializing in fine dining, that aren't exactly leaping with vegan options across their menu.
The arrangement of the dinner at the highly rated Belly Timber is what inspired this new tradition. Belly Timber's chef, David Siegal, had introduced a few vegan options onto their daily menu and the enthusiasm grew for a full vegan dinner party. This venture had its root at Whiffies Fried Pies, when David first developed an all vegan pie as one of two signature pie
I adore Portobello and must make it to the new Blossoming Lotus location soon or I'm going to go nuts, but I don't like to give up hope when I'm at a non-vegan restaurant, especially one that specializes in artisan fare. I cherish seeing the same creative energy put into vegetable dishes as there is with meat.
Note: While there is no foie gras on the menu at Belly Timber, there are very non-vegan dishes using a whole lot of our friend, the pig, on their regular menu, and I understand why folks would pass on this. I personally believe it was a step in the right direction for the hip, meat-obsessed restaurants in Portland, and for the sake of respect and development of artisan, vegan cuisine at these restaurants.
Besides the poor photos of the cocktails, all photographs are courtesy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
Without further adieu, the photos from the first Exquisite Vegan Dinner and some commentary.
Easy on the Eyes
This was a carrot juice and vodka based cocktail that both my friend Liz & I ordered. It was really pleasant and refreshing, and I was delighted by the cocktail suggestions on the menu.
Watermelon basil skewers with black olive puree
Grilled Seasonal Vegetables and Walnut Banga Cauda
Classy grilled vegetables & a tasty accompaniment.
Cauliflower Rillette, chili powder, cocoa nibs, juniper & sage
This is a key example of a chef taking a dish (rillette) that is
typically starring meat, and embracing a vegetable in it. The cauliflower rillette itself
had a mellow, warm flavor and the complex texture of this pate spread onto toast
remains on my mind, despite the almost distracting garnishes. This is hands down the dish I wanted
to recreate at home.
Salad of carrots, parsnips, currants & herbs with a vanilla bean vinaigrette.
This salad was obviously gorgeous, and my friend Millie didn't stop raving about it. I swear, through the vanilla and the fluffy shreds of everything, it channeled marshmallows...
Corn Pudding & Picalilli
This dish showcased one of Belly Timber's signatures - pickled vegetables. There were both onions and tomatoes surrounding my round of spicy corn pudding. While I could have gone for it in a smaller portion since there was such much to try all evening, the spicy corn pudding ranks up with my favorites of the night- the bold flavor it captured was impressive.
Roast Autumn Squash, Apple & Farro
This farro stuffed squash was the biggest patty pan I have ever seen. Thank you, Portland rain! Each of these was shared by a few guests.
Pear fritters with housemade nutella & muscavado almond butter
Unfortunately, we were all pretty stuffed by this point. However, who can turn down a pear fritter? Or warm, homemade nutella?
It seemed on a different page from the rest of the meal, but again, I'll repeat myself. Who can turn down a pear fritter? Or warm, homemade nutella?
B.T. White Russian
This was made with almond milk and house-infused Stumptown vodka. Yes.
Thank you for this adventure, Belly Timber!
And thank you, my fellow vegans, for the company and fine conversation.
FYI, The dinner at Belly Timber consisted of both individual servings and family style offerings. It was sold out with 22+ guests in their private upstairs dining room, at $25/person, not including gratuity or beverages.
Stay tuned for announcements about future exquisite dinners.