Friday, July 8, 2011

Elizabeth's Gone Raw, DC

Elizabeth's Gone Raw is the premier, upscale all raw vegan restaurant in DC.  Zach and I had dined there for Valentine's Day and it left us wanting more. The venue is this beautiful townhouse-like restaurant that is elegant from the exterior to the interior. From the street, you see the gas lamp burning next to the front door. Upon entering, you are greeted by the host who promptly walks you upstairs to the dining room. Be advised - you must have reservations to dine here. We were seated at a table against the wall in kind of quaint setting away from others. We met our two foodie friends there who had never had raw vegan food before and I was really interested to see what they'd think.  They were already drinking a watermelon-mint margarita, which sounded great so we ordered one as well. The amuse at Elizabeth's is always her famous kale chips, which we devoured pretty quickly. :)

The restaurant is only open on Fridays so it is generally pretty busy. There is not a regular menu, rather the prix fixe tasting menu offered each Friday, which is usually $75, is always unique. You can also opt for the wine pairing for an additional $35, which we did. The sommelier quickly greeted us once we placed our order to tell us about the first wine. The wine was a 2006 White Bordeaux Blend from Chateau Milon in France. It was a good, light, oaky wine with a hint of cardamom spice to it. This wine was to be paired with the first course -- an amazing coconut wrap prepared by Executive Chef, Thomas Berry. Imagine coconut meat and milk pressed with cilantro and rolled paper-thin, then dehydrated to make a wrap with an Indian-inspired filling of cauliflower seasoned with cumin and curry. To top it off, there was this delicious spicy, green curry sauce with a cashew sour cream. The first dish had the whole table raving and excited for the rest.

Next, we were served a salad of fresh spring peas and carrots on butter lettuce and arugula, but it was the citrus dressing that truly made this dish a hit. The wine pairing with this dish was a 2008 Viognier Blend from the Chapoutier estate in the Crozes-Hermitage appellation in France. This wine had a good acidity for pairing with the salad -- a good crisp wine.

For the intermezzo, we were served a pineapple-ginger sorbet -- refreshing and light, but could have used a bit more sugar. I wanted a little more sweetness in this sorbet.

The main course was an heirloom tomato stack with "farmer's cheese" and pesto in between the layers. The tomatoes were incredibly ripe and fresh and the macadamia nut cheese was deliciously light with a tasty flavor-rich pesto made with basil oil. It was tantalizing. The kale salad was crunchy, but not too crunchy and had a great lemony dressing on it. I enjoyed this wine the most, probably because it was a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley - my favorite area for this varietal.  The sommelier actually took the time to come to our table before each course to describe the characteristics of each wine and why he chose the wine for each dish, which made the experience that much better.

Then came the dessert and what a finale this was! We were expecting the black raspberry tart listed on the menu and that we got, but we also got a gift from the pastry chef of a chocolate caramel bar. The black raspberry tart had a dense coconut crust layered with a cashew cream and topped with raspberries. It was delish.

The chocolate caramel bar was quite a surprise. The thin layer of chocolate was much lighter in taste than I'm used to - it was more like milk chocolate than dark chocolate and the vegan caramel was, surprisingly, very much like caramel. This caramel had a texture similar to the Chocolate Inspirations bar, but had a fresher taste.  The raspberry sauce paired well with both desserts giving them a bit more sweetness. The pastry chef, Calvin Lee, is a genius.

At the end of the meal, everyone at the table, including my friends who had never had raw vegan food before, was impressed with the food, service, and venue. Elizabeth walked around throughout the night going from table to table speaking with many of her patrons. You can tell she truly cares about the experience of individuals who choose to dine at her restaurant. She is an amazingly caring person who opened this restaurant for all the right reasons. You can read her story on her website, but in short, she had a not-so-good diet before she was diagnosed with breast cancer and after spending some time at the Hippocrates Health Institute, went mostly raw vegan.  She now has a desire to share this wonderful food with all to show them how good raw vegan food can be and I can assure you that she has inspired many.  This restaurant should be at the top of the list of anyone visiting the DC area. 5 stars.

Elizabeth's Gone Raw
1341 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-8349

Elizabeth's Gone Raw on Urbanspoon

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