Vegan Rosh Hashanah? I know it sounds bizarre, but when Todd Gray decides to do something, especially something vegan, you know it is going to be awesome. En route to the beach this summer he and his innovative wife Ellen came up with this idea of offering a vegan tasting menu at Equinox Restaurant during Rosh Hashanah. Unbeknownst to them, it was going to become one of the most popular tasting menus in D.C. during the Jewish holiday. The enticing menu, combined with the reasonable $55 price tag (for four courses) led me to make a reservation as soon as I could. You’ll have to wait until Rosh Hashanah 2018 to try these dishes (assuming the menu doesn’t change!) but for now, you can live vicariously through me.
The menu was quintessentially Jewish, opening with a trio of apple beignets. These little nuggets were spongy on the inside, with a crispy outer shell, and served in a puddle of apple jam. I wanted to eat 100 of them.
Next up was my sister’s favorite dish of the night: matzo ball soup. Usually made with eggs, chicken fat, chicken stock and butter, Chef Todd Gray whipped up a vegan version that was as hearty and savory as the original. The broth he made was infused with smoked onions and soy sauce, giving it a sort of umami flavor profile. Earthy, delicate chanterelle mushrooms added texture and meatiness, and soft, chewy matzo balls were the highlight. We were drinking from the bowl at the end so we wouldn’t miss a single bite.
The entrée was a chickpea and eggplant cassoulet, which is a slow cooked casserole. Instead of meat, this dish featured tomatoes, onions, hearty chickpeas and hunks of eggplant. Adorned with fried shishito peppers and served on a bed of farro, everyone was stuffed to the gills after this dish, but somehow, we found room to eat dessert.
My favorite part of the evening was the dessert, a dense apple cake was served with a glassy, sinfully sweet caramel sauce and a honey comb ice cream that wasn’t really made with honeycomb. I have no idea how it tasted exactly like honeycomb. It was amazing. Our drinks? Well I may not be Jewish but I am always happy to celebrate, so we got a bottle of bubbles, which proved to be the perfect pairing.
I hope you were lucky enough to try this menu. If you weren’t, mark your calendars.