If the word vegan makes you go “meh,” it’s time to reconsider. Vegan sometimes gets a bad rap. The vegan brunch at Equinox can help sway a non-believer to gain an appreciation for the no meat, no fish, and no dairy side of cuisine. If you think you need a little something extra to persuade you, how about truffles? The White Truffle Brunch at Equinox takes a quality vegan brunch and elevates it to another level.
Chef Todd Gray’s vegan brunch was popular in its previous Sunday home at the Muse Cafe, in the now closed Corcoran Gallery of Art. It recently moved to his Connecticut Avenue restaurant, and is still going strong. I was recently invited to a media preview of the new White Truffle Brunch. Since truffles make me weak in the knees, I am eager to indulge in a meal that integrates this precious ingredient into multiple dishes.
Brunch kicks off with soup – which on this day is a truffled calypso bean soup with parsnips and celeriac. Truffles are shaved over the soup table side, the distinctive fragrance making me swoon.
An array of colorful salads and vegetable dishes are served at the bar, showing off appealing fall ingredients. This includes toasted couscous salad with apple, spiced pumpkin seeds, and hazelnut vinaigrette. There is also baby spinach and radicchio salad with shaved fennel and topped with pomegranate and tangerine vinaigrette. An earthy truffled lentil “cassoulet” features slow cooked golden beets, caramelized brussels sprouts, and panko crumbs. The bright flavors and creative combinations dispel any preconceived notions in which vegan food lacks panache, which I confess is an impression that I held for years.
Spiced bartlett pear stuffed french toast with granola crust and maple syrup is particularly intoxicating,with it’s crunchy complexity. This is when the all-you-can-eat thing gets dangerous. Nothing but my guilty conscience stops me from sneaking another slice.
I look for the tofu, which is not an unreasonable expectation for a vegan brunch. It comes in the form of a clever tofu scramble station. Add-ins include appealing farm-fresh artichokes, peppers, onions, and vegan Daiya cheese. This is where simple, fresh ingredients really shine.
An assortment of desserts are topped with white truffle vanilla anglaise. Can one meal ever be too truffle-centric? I think not. Cocktails are designed to pair with the food and reflect the season. Current options include a pear martini, Chester cider, and my favorite- a perfect pumkintini.
Sunday brunch often conjures up visions of fluffy omelettes and thick slabs of bacon. I get it. Thanks to Equinox owners Ellen Kassoff and Todd Gray for offering a vegan brunch with inventive and flavorful cuisine that not only appeals to vegans and vegetarians, but can satisfy their potentially reluctant dining partners as well. The addition of truffles is an exquisite bonus, and if you’re like me…they may even make you swoon.
The market vegan brunch at DC’s Equinox is available on Sundays. The cost is $30, and is all-you-can-eat. All dishes are available with shaved white truffles for a surcharge of $20, through truffle season.
Equinox, 818 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
Washingtonian 100 Very Best Restaurants 2015, #72