Vegetarian implies sans meat, yet in addition no dairy or fish. Therefore, when referring to “burgers,” “calamari,” or “pie,” there are numerous air quotes on the menu. Yet, the culinary experts in a single North Shore café have gotten imaginative, making dishes that ought to speak to anybody.
At Spirit Elephant, tucked away among the shops along Green Bay Road in downtown Winnetka, salads would be expected to be on the vegan menu. However, the kitchen must use vegan cheese, often made from coconut milk. However, you don’t feel like you’re missing anything on the blue cheddar covered wedge – there’s mushroom bacon alongside salted red onion and tomatoes. The restaurant had a straightforward objective.
Owner CD Young described the establishment as “a chef-driven, very creative, craveable, delicious restaurant with amazing food that just happens to be vegan.”
Cauliflower is used to make buffalo wings. Yet, a thick, succulent burger?
She stated, “We use a lot of mushrooms to create that meaty, steak-like feel.”
The Jorge Burger includes either an Unthinkable Meat or dark bean patty with a whiskey decrease; vegan cheese, gigantic onion rings, and mushroom bacon.
What about the calamari?
It’s made from trumpet mushrooms; the stems are hollowed-out to be those rings that you’re familiar with,” she said.
Meaty, nutritious Lion’s Mane mushrooms are rolled in cornflakes, fried then tossed with chili spice.
“And then we have a harissa dipping sauce and a pineapple chutney,” said Young.
Spanish bomba rice is cooked until tender, then topped with a bouquet of color.
“It’s a vegetable harissa paella, which also takes advantage of that heat and a little bit of sweetness and all of the beautiful, colored vegetables. That one is packed with vegetables,” she said.
You’ll see plenty of those outside, on the massive back patio this summer. But then you have to ask the inevitable: how do you tackle a chocolate mousse with no dairy or eggs?
“It’s just a rich coconut mousse that’s decadent and creamy with cocoa powder, whipped cream and fruit – it’s something,” said Young.