“Veggie-centric” is all the new rage in the dining scene in D.C. and I could not be happier. Sustainable, healthy, and most important delicious, vegetables are your friends people! Recently, we covered the advent of a meatless tasting menu at 2941 Restaurant, the opening of a second Beefsteak in Dupont Circle, the launching of Fare Well, and now, we are writing about 701 Restaurant, which is joining the veggie-centric movement with about eight new vegetable-focused dishes on the menu. Never one to shy away from vegetables, being a vegetarian and all, I went over to sample the new dishes and thrilled to discover that Chef Benjamin Lambert’s vegetable dishes are refined and developed, with vegetables as the highlight.
I’ll go through the dishes I sampled one by one. First, the corn soup. It’s a silky smooth concoction that utilizes the best of summer’s produce. Pumpkin seed oil and watercress ice cream add depth of flavor and a distinct earthiness.
The broccoli panzanella is robust and elegant, the perfect starter to any meal. While the broccoli is correctly cooked so that it still has a bite to it, I have to admit that the best ingredient in this dish is the fried bread. The cubed croutons are crunchy and addictive and will leave you longing for more.
My favorite item on the new menu is the carrot funnel cake. I mean, come on, fried dough made with carrots and then served with burrata, carrot puree, pickled ramps, and gooseberries? Are you kidding me? It’s ridiculously good. Sweet and crunchy and creamy from the burrata and then a burst of tartness from the ramps and berries. It’s on their menu under “sharing plates” but believe me this one dish you don’t want to share.
Next up I sampled the cauliflower shawarma: roasted cauliflower served with a tomato compote, a luscious miso hummus, crispy lavash bread, labneh, and sweet raisins. It’s another dish with sweet and savory elements, with crunchy, creamy, and chewy textures all rolled into one. It is an incredibly gratifying main course, and a great option for vegetarians who are tired of having pasta as the only main course option.
Another tempting main course is the vegetable pot au feu, where oat dumplings and roasted root vegetables are served in a savory caramelized onion broth. Hearty and satisfying is the only way to describe this dish.
Also on the new veggie-centric menu is a beet salad with pomegranate dressing, heirloom tomatoes with corn flan, a Tuscan kale salad with chickpeas, and an eggplant sandwich with pesto. I guess I’ll have to go back to sample those!