When Horizons closed in 2011 I was devastated. It was not only the best vegan restaurant in the country, it also served the best food I'd ever eaten, plain and simple. But when Vedge opened, with the same chef-owner team, I was ecstatic and eager to see what new things they had in store.
First, Vedge is a beautiful space: it's housed in a gorgeous, old brownstone with much fine original woodwork throughout. The bar up front manages to be both upscale and unpretentious, which is a rare feat. Actually, I think Vedge has a better look and feel than Horizons.
Onto the food: we started off with some cocktails and a "Dirt List" small plate. My "sherry temple" ($10) was an excellent cocktail, mixed to perfection, consisting of absinthe, sherry and a couple other delicious things. The "Irish stew mushroom" ($9) dish we got was overly basic, however---it was a simple potato-carrot stew with a great variety of soft, succulent mushroom (whose name I've forgotten). The ingredients were all great, but the taste was pedestrian.
For the mains, it's suggested that you order two or three dishes per person, as the portions are fairly small. We got the "wood-roasted sweet potato puree" ($8), the "grilled gochujang tofu" ($13), the "fresh hearts of palm with garbanzo crepe" ($13), the "roasted maitake mushroom" ($15) and the "steak spice seared tofu" ($14).
The sweet potato puree was tasty; it was basically a smoky, sweet spread that you put over some pieces of small, toasted white baguette. I liked this dish, but was not blown away by it and I do wish they'd offered whole wheat instead.
The gochujang tofu was superb and the best dish of the night, in my opinion: a piece of grilled tofu with a delectable piece of fried yuba (tofu skin), a smoked miso broth, and a savory edamame puree. This dish reminded me of Horizons at its finest.
The hearts of palm and garbanzo crepe was akin to an Indian dosa filled with lentils and hearts of palm. I liked this dish and I think the green harissa added a big dose of flavor. Kudos to Vedge for this fusion offering.
The roasted maitake mushroom dish was mixed. I loved the maitake mushroom, which has a really great texture (a little soft, a little crunch), and the fried celery fritter also tasted great (and I normally hate celery). I didn't like the truffle mustard, however, which hurt the dish considerably, in my mind.
Lastly, the steak spice seared tofu was basically an English dish consisting of grilled tofu with peas and mushrooms. The beech mushrooms had a strong briny flavor and the dish on a whole was strong of salt; it lacked the subtlety of the gochujang tofu.
For dessert we had the cheesecake ($9) and the turnovers ($8). I liked the cheesecake a lot, as the mix of meyer lemon, crumbly-sugary crust and neutral tofu base created a nice mix of flavors. My friend, however, though it tasted too much of tofu. The turnovers, both of us agreed, were bland: fried pastries filled with sweet potato and served with cream. It sounds great, but the dish had no real sweetness and just didn't come together.
The service was friendly, attentive and knowledgeable.
Vedge is one of the finest vegan dining experiences in the country. I'd argue that it's the best vegan experience in the US, easily beating places like Millennium in San Francisco and Candle 79 in New York City. All that said, it's not quite as good as its predecessor Horizons, which never let me down on any dish, and had dishes with a stronger flavor profile than Vedge. I gave Horizons five stars (one of very few places to get five stars in my book), and I think Vedge falls short of perfection, which is why I can only give it four stars. However, I will be happy to go back to Vedge and it is a wonderful place on a whole.