On my recent trip home to Philly, my parents told me to pick a restaurant for a special dinner out. Obviously we went to V Street, the restaurant I've been freaking out waiting to go to since it opened. With four non-vegan adults eating with me, I was extra hoping that everything would be incredible, to prove how great vegan food can be. That's a lot of added pressure that I secretly put on V Street, but they more than came through. My dinner mates were blown away.
Waitron was like, that's actually a good amount to order for a group of five, so right on. Plates started coming out reasonably soon considering how edge-of-my-seat eager I was. First up were crunchy papadums with whipped dal and aleppo pepper. I freaking adore the idea of whipped dal, or lentil puree if you don't want to sound as fancy.
One of my favorite dishes came next, and it was something we didn't order, just a thank you treat from the kitchen. These were soft pretzels - what Philly does best - with a gingery mustard. These pretzels, oh my god. They were so perfectly greasy and somehow melty and doggone delicious. I like to think that they gave this just to us because we were the special table and I'm so famous, but I'm pretty sure everyone got it.
Another appetizer-type dish was the shishito robatayaki. While we still enjoyed this, it was everyone's least favorite dish. The slender green peppers were nicely grilled, but they just kind of tasted like grilled peppers. Nothing more, no pomp, no circumstance. If you don't love plain grilled peppers (none of the saucing really came through because man 'grill' is a strong flavor) then you should skip this. It was totally fine, just not special.
Luckily, everything else was! Next up was the market greens, with honshimeji XO sauce and little circles of braised turnip. Now I have no idea what honshimeji XO sauce means, but I know I like saying it and I really love eating it. Okay I think it means mushrooms because there are some in there. This was a fantastic side dish that could make anyone love eating your greens.
Now we're getting to the unbelievably mind-blowing stuff. One of these fantastic dishes was the harissa grilled cauliflower with spiced avocado and green olive chermoula. This was a party, oh my goodness. I can never eat cauliflower any other way. The mix of complex flavors worked so well and the stems seemed almost deep-fried, they were so perfectly grilled. Oh man, so good. This is a must-get.
Another flatbread was also beloved by our group and may also inspire epic poems in its memory. The Charred Eggplant Flatbread with zhoug hummus and za'atar pickles was perfection. I'm pretty sure zhoug is a ghost in the upcoming (amazing) Ghostbusters remake and I didn't know you could za'atarize pickles but whatever's going on here, it's RG (real good).
Next up is one of the absolute best dishes of the night. It might be my favorite. I mean everything is my favorite but this, man, this is awesome. The Korean Fried Tempeh Tacos with gochujang and radish kimchee was, well, a taco to start, so it couldn't really go wrong. But this may have been the best taco EVER. The Korean fried tempeh is spectacular (you'll see it again at lunch) and all the accoutrements made a mix of flavors so good you wanted a thousand of these. Gochujang is a Korean fermented red chili paste, so this was spicy but only like a medium level. The tortillas were the best I've had in a long time. Ugh just look at all those toppings. I am so excited to do the taco cleanse in Austin in May and I hope that anything there can come close to this taco. This was hard to share with five people so if you are not alone I would suggest getting at least three.
V STREET, PHILADELPHIA
Water speed: Great - they give you glass bottles for the table! My favorite!
Service: Fantastic. Helpful and nice and had perfect timing. Of course, coming from the land of terrible service in London, I probably would think anything was good.
Bathrooms: Past the kitchen with the bar seating around it, so every time I went (all the time) I got to see Rich holding court.
Food: Freaking. Amazing.
Bonus: Since you can share everything, it ends up being a great value. They also had a superb drinks menu, according to my companions, especially the tequila-horchata specialty. Also, they don't take reservations, but they do take your phone number to call you when your table's ready so you don't have to wait outside. And if you are like me, you can see Kate, Rich, and Danielle all in one night. If there was a vegan celebrity bingo game, I prob would have won.