A new concept from the founders of Spiral Diner & Bakery will introduce the region to a vegan tasting menu in Fort Worth this summer. Maiden: Fine Plants & Spirits will open June 1 with an eight-course spring menu that will be entirely vegan with drink pairings to match.
Tasting menus are du jour in many upscale Dallas restaurants, where you can spend big money letting the chef take the wheel. Reservations often go fast at Tatsu Dallas, Shoyo, Local, and Petra and the Beast, but very few are vegetarian or even vegan-friendly. Maiden will change that.
The idea came from executive chef Amy McNutt and her husband James Johnston. Their goal was to create a concept that was fancier than Spiral Diner & Bakery, because “Spiral was all about comfort and casual,” McNutt says.
Johnston is a filmmaker, which meant the couple often traveled around Europe and got to experience vegan tasting menus. Most were predictable, a rotation of roasted vegetables or vegan risotto, McNutt says. But one restaurant in Dingle, Ireland, had a delicious and extensive vegan tasting menu.
“We were like, ‘yeah, this is what we want to do,’” she says.
That was in 2019. Four years later, Maiden will be McNutt and Johnston’s third vegan concept in North Texas. They founded local favorite Spiral Diner in 2002 and currently operate two locations, a flagship in Fort Worth and one in Denton. (One in Oak Cliff recently closed.) A second concept, Dreamboat Donuts & Scoops, is a fully vegan dessert and ice cream shop in Fort Worth that opened earlier this month.
McNutt says Maiden’s menu will be formatted like a traditional tasting menu with a consommé, two savory appetizers, a salad, an entrée, a palate cleanser, a cheese course, and a dessert. A press release said to expect dishes like lemongrass grapefruit consommé, a roasted parsnip with zucchini confit, and walnut served with sourdough bread and shallot jam.
“With every dish, we approach it as, ‘how can we make this the most surprising combination of flavors, but still delicious?’” McNutt says.
The drink menu includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, including a cocktail called The Ruby, made with vodka and floral and citrus flavors, and the Hubba Hubba, a zero-proof pink drink made with Seedlip Spice. The wine program includes a selection of wineries that have an emphasis on organic and sustainable farming. Expect wines from New Zealand, Italy, South Africa, and Texas.
A seating will last about two to three hours, depending on the number of people in a party, and will cost $150 per person. Maiden will seat 50 people in a 2,100-square-foot space that McNutt says is “pretty swanky.” Reservations must be prepaid and can include one of three drink pairings: wine, an alcoholic and non-alcoholic mix, or zero-proof. Drink pairings are $45 each, but pricing is subject to change based on availability and seasonal changes. The food menu will also change seasonally, but it’ll remain 100 percent vegan.
“I think everybody deserves this, even if it’s just once a year on your birthday or anniversary, to be able to come to a place like this and just really splurge and treat yourself,” she says. “And if we’re gonna have a motto, it’s treat yourself.”
If you can’t snag a reservation or just want to pop by for a casual plant-based dinner and bites, there’s first-come, first-serve seating at the bar and the outdoor lounge, which will include a vegan cheese board and drink options. Later, a tea service will be available on Saturdays.
Maiden: Fine Plants & Spirits will open June 1 at 1216 6th Ave., Fort Worth. Reservations are now available via Tock.