D.C. is famous for its diverse and vibrant culinary scene, but for years the spot for an upscale vegan restaurant has remained open. With dietary restrictions more common than ever, locals have expressed their frustration with the lack of accommodating cuisine in the area. That is, until Fancy Radish popped up at the start of the summer.
Tucked away on the corner of H and 6th street, Fancy Radish is an American restaurant with a fully vegan menu, meaning no meat or animal products of any kind. Although the dining area itself is small, the atmosphere is lively and undoubtedly luxurious. Waiters encourage customers to select two dishes from the “urban picnic” or small plates section, and one dish from the “wood & fire” or entrée section to allow for exploration of new ingredients.
I was dubious of my first plate, fondue and pretzel bread, due to the replacement of cheese with Rutabaga as the base of the dip. But this dish turned out to be the best of the night, with a creamy texture that blended perfectly with the salty, warm bread. As a vegan that finds non-dairy cheese unappetizing, I was surprised that the unusual selection of Rutabaga as opposed to soy protein or nuts to create the “cheese” made it so much better. The fondue is a must-have meal, and a reason to go in and of itself.
My second small plate was Peruvian Potatoes, which, although too spicy for my personal taste, had perfect seasoning and softness. If you are looking for stronger flavors, this dish is for you. For my main course I chose the peas and carrots ramen with a miso carbonara. If fettuccine alfredo had a less thick and heavy taste, it would closely resemble this pasta dish, and the lack of dairy did nothing to hinder its creaminess.
Each moment of the meal was indulgent and witty. I could see the careful consideration the chef used when pairing ingredients, making sure every dish on the menu hit this undeniably delicious mark. It was clear to me the popularity of the establishment, seeing as out of only a dozen tables I saw multiple celebrities dining while I ate. In fact, at the table next to me was California Senator and potential 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris, enjoying a vegan meal with her constituents. Although she has a preference for vegan food, she is not actually vegan, which hit home the idea that it is a place for people of all dietary preferences.
The night ended with a blueberry tart with lemon curd and poppy seed ice cream, as well as a Sydney Moonrise from the drinks menu. People who are on a regular diet take being able to choose a dessert for granted, as I am usually stuck with the only vegan option, sorbet. The ability to decide between the tart and other pastries like the s’mores mud pie felt like a luxury.
The entire experience was remarkably dynamic for a restaurant with limited ingredients to pull from. I encourage you to spend a night out at Fancy Radish if you are a vegan, but especially if you are not. It will open your mind to new flavors you never expected, and leave you with an appreciation for alternative fine dining.