posted by tom / October 23, 2005 /

This evening I headed over to Vegetate, the new vegetarian restaurant that's opened up around the block from here. There'll be a real review up on DCist later this week (by someone else — probably Hemal), but my quick impression: not that great.

The four of us split two appetizers, which were quite good, although the roasted vegetable appetizer was ridiculously tiny. For the entree, I got the jerked tempeh. I hadn't had tempeh before — turns out it's kind of unpleasant. But even ignoring that, the jerk sauce was weirdly creamy, not at all spicy, and not particularly appealing. The potato latke and greens that came with it were nice, but making fried potato delicious is easy. I also had a glass of lemonade, which was small but tasty. For some reason they provide straws that I'm pretty sure are intended to be used as drink stirrers (seriously). They look pretty and nicely match the tiny glass, but they're extremely irritating to use.

Entree, half an appetizer, a glass of juice and tip set me back $30. Given the small portion sizes and the fact that vegetarian cuisine represents comparatively little ingredient cost, this is kind of a ripoff. Let's compare: add costs for meat and the booze that the restaurant can't yet serve and I'd guess that you're looking at about $50 a plate. You can eat much better than this for that amount of money.

Speaking for the defense: they've just opened, they're just around the corner, the space is beautiful, and their staff was very pleasant. If they become a little more generous and proficient in the kitchen, this place could really take off.

And it's hard not to sympatize with the owners: Shiloh Baptist Church has given them a very hard time. We spoke with a manager/owner after eating and he said that the church has actually been chartering buses to get people to the ABC hearings to oppose the restaurant's license application — yet Shiloh has refused to answer the requests for meetings or discussions made by the restaurant. Shiloh is acting in bad faith, imposing the will of a congregation that primarily lives in Maryland onto a street that badly needs revitalization. This isn't just a difference of opinions — Shiloh's members really ought to be ashamed of themselves. Vegetate didn't impress me, but they deserve the chance to try to impress others.

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