About a year ago, many of my ‘westside’ friends started talking about this new restaurant
called Forage Public House in Lakewood. I took a quick look at the menu and decided it wasn’t for me. It’s a farm to table concept, heavy on meat and dairy. What’s for a vegan to love?
I’ll admit, I was quick to judge. Perhaps it was because I’d never been to cult classic Deagan’s in Lakewood either, and after all, this is Chef Demetrio’s newest American gastropub.
Well, a friend was in town visiting from his current landing post in China. He suggested Forage, so I said why not. I quickly looked up the restaurant reviewed and scoured the menu on their website. Forage strives to use 100% sustainable farm specific menu items. They pride themselves on using farm to table, as well as, local artisan items.
I will say, while my initial thoughts on the menu being very meat/ dairy centric were correct, Forage makes a concerted effort to be vegan/ vegetarian-friendly, with clearly labeled items such as the “Vegan Potato Dumplings” or the “Vegan Mac’n’Cheese.” I can certainly appreciate that.
We visited on a Friday night at 7pm. Not the best time to goto a hip newish restaurant sans reservation. Well, it also happened to be 10 degrees outside and white out conditions. Lucky for us. hah. We walked right in and got a table, no problem. The lighting was dim, the decorations rustic. Overall, it felt comfortable. Definitely, not reminiscent of the sports bar that used to occupy the space.
I began to look at the menu. Of course, my eyes started scanning for the word “vegan” or heading to the salad section. As I’m reviewing my options, I notice that almost every course includes a city/ state next to it. Want to know where your lettuce came from? Oh, it’s Huron, Ohio.
I opted to start the meal with a Blood Sangria. The name is certainly true to the drink, as it came out a deep purple red. The cocktail is a mixture of black berry brandy, burgandy wine reduction, cherry vodka, and citrus liquor.It was sweet, a tad tangy, and overall, a really tasty treat. We were off to a good start!
Next up, the appetizer! It’s a given that nine times out of ten when I see vegan mac’n’cheese on a menu, I’m going to order it. This time was no different. (Have I mentioned that I’m also currently obsessed with Daiya’s Cheezy Mac line? Especially, the Daiya Cheezy Mac with veggies).
The Vegan Mac n Cheese included roasted shallots, cashew cream sauce and a fine herb crust. I normally do not like crusty mac n cheese, but this was done right. The sauce was smokey and cheesy. The crust was really tasty, and not too salty. I highly recommend giving this a try. One warning, the serving size is too large for one person as a heavy appetizer, so three of us split it to save room for dinner!
I ordered the Vegan Israeli Couscous Salad for my main course. The meal consisted of large isreali couscous pearls, “farmer lee jones roasted baby vegetables,” wild arugula, and foraged coastal huckleberry vinaigrette. I already love couscous, but I thought this was really good. The roasted veggies were cooked perfectly, and there was just enough sauce to spread around, but not drench the ingredients. Honestly, this is just a beautiful dish – to look at and to eat!
Unfortunately, both of my dinner dates ordered the same thing and were less than satisfied – Foraged Mushroom Fettuccine. The menu indicated that this item came from Joe Daugherty, Portland, Oregon and included 18 seasonal foraged mushrooms, semolina fettuccine, braised leeks, ludwig kickapoo cheese, and roasted mushroom nage. The sauce was apparently awesome, but the noodles were a bit al dente. Coming from my partner, that says something. He LOVES al dente pasta. It’s the only way he eats.
All that said, I thought the food and drinks were good. I appreciated the effort to include a variety of vegan options. But, and there is a but, I just don’t know what all the fuss was about. Perhaps I need to give it another try? I hope thatChef Demetrio will continue to think of unique and creative options for his vegan and vegetarian clientele. Have you tried Forage? Let me know what you think!