Thursday, September 19, 2013

Memphis Vegan Dishcrawl!

Have y'all heard about Dishcrawl? You might have one in your city! Or if you're a Memphis reader, we have one right here! It's like a pub crawl but with gourmet food. Dishcrawl Memphis has events all the time. There's a soul food crawl and a taco crawl coming up, and they've had all sorts of other themes set in different neighborhoods around town.

But last night, they had a Cooper-Young Vegan Dishcrawl! Cooper-Young is an artsy, walkable community in Midtown (and it's home to our best vegan restaurant, Imagine Vegan Cafe). Our Dishcrawl ambassador Kim invited me to come along, and of course I answered with an emphatic "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

The night began at Imagine, where Kristie (owner/cook) served up hefty sample plates of a few of their most popular dishes — Beef Tips Over Rice, Gumbo, and Eggplant Parm.

Of course, that's faux beef, and the eggplant is topped with vegan cheese sauce. At Imagine, I sat at a table with some nice omnivore couples, who said this was their first experience with vegan dining. They all seemed very impressed with Imagine's offerings! But we all got pretty stuffed, thanks to Kristie's generous plates of food.

But we had to find room for more because there were three more stops on the crawl! Next, we walked down to the very corner of Cooper Street and Young Avenue for a meal at the new-and-improved Cafe Ole — Cactus Fries with Adobo Sauce, Chickpea Tacos, and Citrus Stuffed Avocado.

Everything on this plate was just out of this world. Cafe Ole is an old Midtown Tex-Mex joint that, over the years, hasn't exactly been known for having the best food. Great margaritas! But the food was just meh. But the place was recently sold to new owners, and they've hired a chef who is shaking things up. These vegan dishes aren't on the menu yet, but I hope he adds these, especially those tacos!

Next was Ink Lounge. This is a fairly new restaurant in the old Melange/Dish/Cortona space (the spot has been a million things over the years). I don't think they're particularly vegan-friendly normally, but they made us a special meal — Red Quinoa and Radish Salad, Sweet Potato Fries with Mushroom Sauce, and Tofu Caprese.

I was quite thankful for the small portions by this point because, as you might imagine, I was stuffed! My tablemates, none of whom were vegans as far as I know, seemed to really love the Tofu Caprese. The tofu was marinated in a balsamic vinegar, and it was heavenly. The cherry tomatoes and basil were so fresh. One lady commented that she'd been meaning to try quinoa, so this was her first time.

Finally, we ended the night back where we started — Imagine Vegan Cafe. That's because they offer the best vegan desserts in town! My friend Stephanie (and no, I'm not biased ... her stuff is just amazing) bakes Imagine's desserts through her Swell Baked Goods company. She made us Chocolate Pie with Raspberry Coulis.

OMG! Definitely my favorite course of the night. Tender crust, rich creamy chocolate, soy whip, and a tart raspberry sauce. I was definitely way too full for this, but that didn't stop be from downing the whole slice while I chatted with my tablemates (one vegetarian and one omni) about Orange Is the New Black.

This event was so much fun! I'm so thankful that a non-vegan group would organize a vegan dishcrawl, and I loved seeing all the omnivores really enjoy their meat-free meals.

Here's the Dishcrawl website to see the list of future events for Memphis. Or non-Memphians can search by city to see if there's a group in your area.


Adi Pantera. said...

I've never heard of Dishcrawl before but I'll visit the website to see if any are happening near my place.
I love when omnivores are so open minded and have fun trying vegan dishes. :)
And that pie looks sooo good!
I hope there's one near me because I'd really love to try this out.

Dana said...

I am really impressed by memphis, and once again i'm left hoping little rock will catch up with the times.

Amey said...

so many vegan choices! that's so fun. I am so super jealous of you, having access to Stephanie's baked goods... they look so damned perfect!!

coconutandberries said...

A dishcrawl sounds like a lot of fun and the dishes look so creative!
That dessert does look especially amazing :)
Great to show omnis how great vegan food can be.

Sal said...

This sounds so fun and all that food - yum!

foodfeud said...

What an awesome sampling. How lucky that you got to go! Hopefully the restaurants were somewhat spaced out so you could walk off a bit of the food between bites ;)

Abby Bean said...

There's a lot to be said for things like this that familiarize omnis with veganism. Glad it was so great!

poopiebitch said...

OMG, those dishes all look SO GOOD. I wish Cafe Ole would serve that stuff all the time! I'd totally go eat that shit.

And the dessert was actually Bittersweet Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tart in Shortbread Pastry with Vegan Whipped Cream and Raspberry Coulis. (I just like how pretentious that sounds)

Eileen said...

Ha--I used to work in the same coworking space with the Dishcrawl guys! (Is that the most Silicon Valley comment ever? Possibly!) The food looks amazing!

Babette said...

Going to different restaurants and eating food at each of them sounds like a dream night to me.

Lesley Eats said...

Oh, man, vegan Dishcrawl! I think there's been a GF Dishcrawl here in Nashville, but a vegan or vegetarian would be fab.

I can't wait to try the new Cafe Ole. I hope the sangarita is still on the menu, though. :)

Debby Sunshine@veganamericanprincess said...

Wow! I want to go to a dish crawl. None where I live, I don't think so anyway. You must be stuffed!