I have to admit – as a relatively devoted omnivore, I was ever so slightly hesitant at the thought of dining at The Gadarene Swine, Chef Phillip Franklin Lee’s vegan restaurant in Studio City. Having just recently observed his youthful gravitas on the current season of Top Chef (which, given the “30 Under 30” and “Best Young Chefs in America” recognition he’s received – all by the humble age of 28 – I could appreciate and understand his determined and seemingly prideful approach at times!), I was curious to see his take on, as the restaurant’s slogan proclaims, “Vegetables. Elevated.” In truth, I was blown away by the depth of Chef Lee’s menu – I think the universal worry when it comes to meat-eaters enjoying vegetarian – and even more so, vegan – cuisine is that plates won’t feel like complete “dishes” without that carnivorous component. After my very first bites of fried stuffed olives, followed by the most fascinating and delicious adaptation of a savory PB&J (on house-made sourdough, with a prune-based jelly, shaved carrots, and pickled shimeji mushrooms), I left any and all sense of “will-I-still-be-hungry-after-this-meal” trepidation behind. Following courses ranging from Crisp Yucca with chimichurri and pickled red onion; to Blackened Cauliflower involving cauliflower cooked three ways (roasted, puréed, and dehydrated chips); to mushrooms with torched sweet potato purée); to the whimsical “Vegetables in a box,” I was so sated I didn’t have a sliver of room left for dessert. From each plate’s elegant presentation, to the complex establishment of flavor and texture, to all around general delicious enjoyment, Chef Lee successfully convinced me that vegan food can – and will – keep me coming back for more.
Top: Target (old)
Skirt: Hell Bunny Paula Swing Skirt
Belt: (borrowed from) Laura Byrnes Lana Cocktail Dress in Red Canvas
Lips: Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in American Doll
Brows: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer in Ebony
Bag: Kate Spade New York (old)