Photo by Flickr user Helen Alfvegren

Openings/Closings

First Look: V-Eats in Trinity Groves

Say what you want about the brisket, the first look is promising

I went to V-Eats the night of the exceptional harvest moon, golden and full as it rose over the Dallas skyline. As it happened, it was also the night of the Trinity River Run; runners started at sunset, and their glowing armbands and blinking anklets were little pulses like isolated brushfires or torch-bearers in the night. It was gorgeous.

Afterwards, I wasn’t surprised to find myself next to some of those runners at V-Eats, the vegan restaurant that replaced Sugar Skull Café in Trinity Groves. The interior is more inviting than its predecessor’s, the lighting well-appointed with strings of white lights overhead and a metal star-shaped lantern of the kind you’d find at a Moroccan bazaar.

At the bar, they house-make syrups like the house twist on grenadine with grapefruit and orange; the Herb Garden cocktail with rosemary- and thyme-infused gin uses a vibrant house-blended spinach juice. There’s an attention to detail; things are fresh. The guy next to me, a self-professed chili fan, was over the moon with the bowl of vegan Southwestern chili he devoured, while at the end of the bar, someone tucked into shaggy spears of fried pickles. The tofu crisps look just the same, I was told—shaggy-crusted and sticking up out of a paper-lined cone.

This is just the beginning of a menu that’s half garden-focused and half faux meat. You can go deeply comforting with a huge bowl of Buffalo Mac and Cheese, all bright yellow and orange with a garnish of green (a world of nutritional yeast, I’d wager). Beyond that, you get into the game of the faux (seitan) brisket that’s caused such a stir. There’s Salsbury “steak” and tortilla-encrusted fried “chicken” with mushroom gravy. Naysayers are numerous, I know. But plates come out steaming. It’s a good start.

It’s too early for a verdict, but it’s exciting for Dallas. We’ve had vegan comfort food at Spiral Diner, with its sturdy workhorse Braggs aminos and nutritional yeast. I love their melty soy-cheese quesadillas and broccoli Bunny Bowl topped with steamed tempeh. V-Eats is vegan 2.0, ideologically aligned, but more ambitious. You see it in the plating, which aims for greater elegance, and in details like smoked artichoke hearts. Faux meats and cheeses are not purchased but made in house. A salad’s dressing was almost too tart, but that work with acid or smoke, when it’s balanced, is how the flavors stay alive and the palate alert.

On the flatbread pizza with smoked artichoke hearts, the cheese is not cheese of course, nor is the fake sausage sausage, but it all comes together in a wonderful gestalt, even more so if you add mushrooms, smoky and delicious (far tastier than the photo below suggests). You can almost believe the cheese melts.

Photo by Eve Hill-Agnus
Photo by Eve Hill-Agnus

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