Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ethos: Delicious but a limited variation when it comes to being vegan

I’m gung-ho about veganism more and more each day. Though I don’t think I can possibly ever wean myself off any dairy products completely (I love them), the concept of having more vegetables in my diet in general is something that I have grown to embrace and love. With this growing affection for meatless meals, I decided to try out Ethos for the very first time.




Although they have ‘chickun’ (a vegan substitute for the real thing) on their menu, I steered clear of that hocus-pocus. Rather, I chose meals that were overtly vegan or very close to it. Here’s what I ordered: Pecan- encrusted Eggplant served with asparagus, mashed potatoes and vegan gravy ($12.95), a Hippie Wrap with a side of fresh fruit ($6.95), and a Peak Pomegranate Wheat Draft Beer ($3.50).
 

The pecan-encrusted eggplant happens to be their signature dish- and it did not disappoint when it came to uniqueness. Not mushy as you would expect eggplants to be, the pecans imparted a crispy, dense coating a very thin slice of eggplant. However, for eggplant lovers, I would not necessarily recommend this dish as it was nowhere reminiscent texturally of eggplant. The red wine sauce was delicious and similar to a berry reduction in consistency. A little more of the sweet sauce would have rescued me easily from the relatively dry crust. I liked the vegan gravy which was slightly salty but flavorful and muddled with complex notes of earthy goodness. The asparagus, which was the vegetable-of-the-day for the dish, was sautéed in very rich-flavored oil.

 

The Hippie Wrap was a huge success. What was notable here is that the hummus was ground to such a fine, creamy consistency that it almost doubled as a dressing or an aioli! The dish was delightful from start to finish and was very finger-friendly. Lip-smacking good with wonderfully varied vegetable textures bomb-blasting my mouth all at once, I was beside myself. Sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, and that supreme hummus spread made this spinach-tortilla wrap one for the books. Simple in its structure and compactness, it is a revelation for anyone that may feign at the idea that vegetables can be boring.

 

I don’t review beers a lot, but Peak’s Pomegranate Wheat that they had available on draft was excellent. As you can tell from the blog picture, I couldn't control myself long enough to take a picture of a full glass of it. Not too pomegranate-like in flavor, it was floral and smooth. On a hot summer afternoon, this was a fine, cooling refreshment. For people that love Blue Moon or Shock Top, give this organic ale a try.

 

Even though Ethos is on the main thoroughfare of Fairbanks, it offers a surprisingly small selection of vegan ingredients that have been spun into different dishes. It seems that Ethos has pigeon-holed itself into a ‘comfort food’ cuisine niche rather than offering far more healthier options that veganism can encompass- think amaranth, lentils, or quinoa, for example. These ‘super-grains’ that are renowned to offer what dieticians consider ‘whole-protein’ options that are plant-based rather than what is typically found in meat. Curiously, Ethos does not offer them as part of their daily menu. This is boggling because the cornerstone of any vegan lifestyle is to supplement nutrient-packed meats with equally comparable plant-derived choices.

 
IN A NUTSHELL: The experience as a whole was delightfully satiating. The meal also didn't sit around in the stomach like a lump of meat usually does (maybe all that fiber IS good for you after all).  I suspected plant-based shortening was used in some of the dish preparations (especially the asparagus) which imparted a lot of flavor, but also some unhealthy saturated fats. ETHOS CAN BE BETTER BY OFFERING EVEN MORE NUTRITIOUS OPTIONS. However, it seems for now that they have resigned to a fate of diner-like staples that have a vegan twist (mac-n-vegan-cheese, vegan-cheese-calzones, etc.) which may be more appropriate for clients that are just trying a vegan lifestyle for the first time. I recommend this venue for first-timers or vegans that are taking their non-vegetarian friends out to dinner.



Ethos Vegan Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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