Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Great Sage's raw dinner, Clarksville, MD

I've become a bit of a raw vegan connoisseur having dined at such fine establishments as the Blossoming Lotus in Portland, Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco, Elizabeth's Gone Raw in Washington, DC, Grass Root in Tampa, and Pure Food and Wine in NYC. I've also chosen raw items on the menu at Karyn's on Green in Chicago and other restaurants. All have been great. 

So, I preface this review by stating that I have many points of comparison and, unfortunately, Great Sage's raw meal, is going to come out on the bottom of this ranking. I will also note that while Great Sage (located in Clarksville, MD) is a great vegan [cooked food] restaurant, it is not a raw vegan restaurant. They do a raw meal about twice a year. This particular one was a 5-course prix fixe with only one seating. 

It started with an "amuse", which was really the first course -- this was a "mushroom ceviche" with a flax cracker, chipotle cream and a cashew brie. It was fine, but nothing special. The cracker wasn't nearly as good as ones I've had at Elizabeth's, Pure, or Grass Root. The cashew brie was kind of weird. The chipotle cream was spicy and pretty good, but it didn't pair well with the marinated mushrooms. It felt like a lot of random stuff on a plate.

Mushroom ceviche with chipotle cream
For the second course, there was a salad of wilted kale and watercress topped with avocado, candied pecans, and shaved fennel in a lemon-olive oil emulsion. This was pretty good. The kale was soft and the dressing was savory. The pecans didn't go well with it, in my opinion, though. Throughout the dinner, the size of some of the portions of food was a bit too large. This salad could have been an entree in and of itself. When I go for a 5-course meal, I want a sampling of 5 courses, not a full course in each of the 5 courses!

The third course was a sweet corn puree soup with bell pepper oil and ripe grape tomatoes. I did not like this dish at all. The corn soup was chunky and had this bitter aftertaste that I couldn't get over. Again, the portion size was way too large. It was a nice presentation though.

Sweet corn soup
The intermezzo was a local wild berry ice with mint infusion. It was more like a puree of wild berries without any sweetness to it. It really needed some sugar.

The fourth course was definitely the best course. It was jalapeno-pecan tacos with guacamole and sour cashew cream. These were really good. The nutty mixture inside the taco shells was delicious and the "shells" were just right. The flavors blended well with the cream and guacamole. The chef did a great job with this one.

Jalapeno-pecan tacos
Finally, for dessert, they served a banana split. It was a banana with macadamia-agave ice cream topped with caramel and fudge. The caramel sauce was delicious -- sweet and fulfilling. The ice cream was way too nutty. Now, I know what you are thinking - the ice cream is made of nuts so of course it will be nutty. Not so. The ice cream at Pure is smooth as anything and scrumptious. This one was not -- way too nutty and gritty. The fudge was thick and chunky as well. And, again, the dessert was way too large. One scoop would have been more than enough for this rich dish.

Banana split

So, in the end, I was mostly disappointed. A few of the dishes were good, but none were spectacular. If you are in the DC-Baltimore area, I would recommend Elizabeth's Gone Raw as the raw restaurant of choice.

Great Sage
5809 Clarksville Square Drive
Clarksville, MD 21029
(443) 535-9400

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