Seeds Of Change
Mary Ann Fitzmorris January 17, 2020 11:05 Dining Diary
By Mary Leigh Fitzmorris, who sometimes writes in these pages as the Gourmet Daughter.
The reincarnation of Seed opens tomorrow, in the equally revitalized Lower Garden District. The city’s go-to spot for vegan fare closed this summer to be redeveloped by the avant-garde minds behind the District Donut chain, and they’ve brought their signature bold approach to this new venture. Chef Daniel Causgrove from Seaworthy, then Justine, deftly executes a core philosophy of the owners: Taste first. Vegan second. This is a welcome reversal of the hierarchy that has given vegan a bad name to people like me.
As an openly pro-cheese diner, I pushed myself to shelve my preconceived notions when attending the preview dinner on Tuesday evening. But to be perfectly impartial, I brought along my far more positive and plant-based friend Alex to share the meal with me.
We each started with one of the creative cocktails sent over from the bar side of the new space. In designing the restaurant, they wanted a clear delineation between the two halves of the restaurant. They kept things bright and airy in the original Seed dining room, with a darker and sexier bar in the freshly acquired adjacent space that will seamlessly transition from a coffee shop in the morning to an alluring bar after dark.
While they do offer a selection of above-average non-alcoholic cocktails, this was the day after the College Football Playoff weekend for which Alex was the Production Manager, so we opted for alcoholic options to pair with this pity party.
I chose the “Sense and Sensibility”, a light and sparkling strawberry concoction. It was served in a dainty decorative glass, a perfect choice for a cocktail with this name, and had such a negligible amount of alcohol that I liked it quite well. My compadre selected the more exciting cocktail at the table, titled “The Chameleon”, for its color-changing performance when pouring one part of the drink into the other. Most memorable though, was its mind-bending sweetness level, and we agreed it was more along the lines of a glass of snowball syrup.
Over cocktails, we were informed that we’d be receiving a set selection from their eclectic 100% vegan menu. The first round of dishes quickly arrived, and we were presented with a wedge salad topped with faux blue cheese dressing, crispy fried mushrooms in place of traditional bacon, and sprinkled with dukkah. The second dish, the Pan con Tomate from their “Toast” selections, was a deceptively simple take on bruschetta that had a tomato paste spread over crunchy bread slices, peppered with cherry tomatoes and basil. It was bursting with fresh flavor and was a favorite for both of us.
The last dish of this round and certainly the most interesting was the Hongos En Su Jugo, a spicy tomatillo broth-based soup served under crispy Brussels sprouts, pinto beans, sliced avocado, and jalapeno, and enormous hunks of roasted mushroom. As the waitress described, this was their take on pho, although I can’t say that’s a connection I would make after eating it. While a truly baffling choice for a share plate, the flavor of the tomatillo broth was wonderful, and though the dish could have done with about 50% fewer mushroom chunks, it’s definitely something to try.
Before we’d had a chance to figure out how to share a soup, we were presented with the Cauliflower Katsu sandwich and the cauliflower grits. The sandwich’s biggest statement was not the large fried cauliflower steak, but its presentation on two thick slices of purple “yam milk” bread which did an excellent job as sandwich vessel and conversation piece, but added little in terms of exciting flavor. Admittedly, I was not a fan of the cauliflower grits, but Alex liked both of these dishes well enough for both of us, and she is far better versed in cauliflower than I.
We closed the evening with their carrot cake dessert, two warm slices of nutty cake topped with a coconut-based icing glaze. While closer in flavor and texture to banana bread than cake, it was wonderful, and an unexpectedly great finish to an unexpectedly delightful meal.
1330 Prytania New Orleans
Friday & Saturday till 10
Note: Seed opens tomorrow for lunch 11-2 and dinner 5:30-8:30pm Regular hours begin Saturday, January 25th.