We’ve had a long haiatus here at Matzo and Rice. To kick off a (hopeful) return to posting glory, we have a guest post from one of my friends. Caroline, a long-time vegetarian, provides her R-awesome review of Elizabeth’s Gone Raw!
Caroline: When I first became a vegetarian almost 23 years ago, vegetarians were lucky if a restaurant had a Garden burger on the menu. Nowadays, not only do many places serve their own veggie burgers, but DC has a high-end restaurant serving raw vegan food. I am not a vegan in daily practice, and I am not interested in the raw food diet craze, but I do love to eat vegan whenever I can. And an upscale vegan dining experience? Where do I sign up?!? The answer, of course, is Elizabeth’s Gone Raw. (Review, pictures, and the word “hooha” after the bump!)
There is one menu at Elizabeth’s – a five-course tasting menu. By “tasting,” they apparently mean “stuffing” because we were already starting to fill up by the “Refresh” course of strawberry lemon sorbet (um, where can I get a vat of that to “refresh” me during the rest of the hot days of the week??). We didn’t care – we kept eating.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. With one menu, there’s nothing to order except drinks. Each Friday they serve a choice of two different fresh, organic cocktails that can be served with or without alcohol. Organic vodka for me, please! Served in nice-sized glasses, these drinks almost took me away to the Caribbean. (Almost. But then I got distracted by the large portrait of a naked Renaissance woman on the wall. A little jarring to me, but as my husband pointed out, you can’t see her hooha, so it’s not so bad.)
The menu offers a choice of a wine pairing for each entree, but I chose against that due to my lack of interest in pinot noir. Our pleasant and welcoming server, Jake, promptly dispatched the sommelier to our table to discuss my preferences. Obviously knowledgeable in wine, the French-sounding man made me want to tour wineries in France. Don’t ask me what two wines he chose for me, but they were lovely and I enjoyed both to the fullest.
Okay, back to the food. They start you off with a basket of kale chips (and they’re not considered one of the five courses!). Two warnings: these will make you moan, and they WILL fill you up! Made in a dehydrator (as opposed to baked or fried), covered in nutritional yeast, cashew paste, lemon, and sea salt, these are some of the greatest things I have ever tried. They do sell bags of them at the entryway; we managed to leave with only two bags to avoid looking like huge gluttons. Plus, it would have been rude to not leave some for others.
The first course was a cold cantaloupe soup with basil “cream.” They leave both a menu and a list of ingredients (brilliant!) on the table for you to refer to as you inhale your food eat slowly and civilly. The cream was made out of coconut water and macadamia nut, with other seasonings for flavor. A lovely, refreshing dish – my husband and I both enjoyed it, but not something I would seek out. That being said, I love the uniqueness of the dish and look forward to trying any and all of Elizabeth’s creative offerings.
The second course was a salad of shaved fennel, beets, onion, and oranges. I am a sucker for a beet salad. Everyone does them, but this one was actually different. Usually, the beets are cubes, or chunks of some sort, but Elizabeth served them in shreds, which was a really nice touch. The flavors were light and just right. A thoroughly appreciated salad.
I’ll move on to the fourth (main) course because I already mentioned the refresher sorbet. (Although, I will say, some sorbets can be icy and rough – not at Elizabeth’s! Smooth and packing a cold punch of happiness right into your mouth.) Thai noodle salad with coconut milk, cilantro, green papaya, spiced cashews, and chili paste was on the menu for our night. The noodles were made with kelp! How? Not a clue, but who cares!? Delicious. The coconut milk sauce was absolutely wonderful. The spiced cashews made me happy. The chili paste comes in a side dish so that you can use as much or as little as you want. Having some foresight, I dabbed a little on my plate to test the spiciness (this was some bright red chili paste with seeds throughout). My husband, being overly excited for a bowl of spicy Thai noodles, took more of a “dump it all over my food” approach to the chili paste. Well, I haven’t seen him struggle this much with spiciness since he unknowingly popped a whole chili pepper in his mouth at our favorite Indian restaurant. So, be warned – the chili paste is spicy!! It also, however, has what many spicy sauces lack – flavor. With a base of cashew nut paste, the texture was almost creamy and the combination just made a yummy addition to the noodles in coconut milk.
Lastly, dessert. I often don’t bother with dessert in restaurants these days because I’d rather enjoy my calories in booze and I haven’t found a dessert deserving of enjoying a rent-free home on my waist. Then I went to Elizabeth’s. Upon the arrival of the chocolate mocha mousse cake with chilled pressed espresso, I could only spit out an, “OMG!” and my husband (seriously, I am not adding drama here) shivered in joy while his eyes crossed. There was no speaking while we inhaled savored this dessert.
In all, this was a wonderful restaurant and excellent meal. Elizabeth herself wanders the dining room, helping servers and chatting with guests. All I can say is, well done, Elizabeth. You have done us vegetarian/vegan foodies proud.
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw (Open for dinner on Fridays only)
1341 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005