Veg is the word for 2016, and Greenville Avenue restaurant Wayward Sons is stepping up by hosting a "plant-based" meal for its first chef's dinner.
Wayward Sons is the restaurant that opened in the old Kirby's Steakhouse space, from Brandon Hays and Phil Schanbaum, the team behind So & So's on McKinney Avenue and High Fives on Henderson Avenue, plus chef Graham Dodds.
The dinner takes place on January 19 and will consist of five courses, all vegan, which means no meat, no dairy, no bacon, no animal at all. A vegetable champion since before his days at Bolsa, Dodds is approaching the meal as a fun culinary challenge.
"Right now this is a huge focus of mine," Dodds says. "I've battled the format where diners want an extra large piece of meat with accompaniments. We get it shoved down our throat that what we should have is three pounds of meat on a plate. I think the real skill of a chef is to come up with a bitchin' treatment of vegetables."
For the dinner, Dodds says he's working on a gazpacho with unexpected ingredients, another dish that'll be green, a "barbecued" treatment of root vegetables, and something with lentils and mushrooms. "Portabella mushrooms do have a meaty quality, but I want all these dishes to stand on their own," he says."I'm not into doing a fake meat."
Wayward Sons joins a number of other restaurants who've begun hosting vegetarian and/or vegan dinners in recent years, some even going the distance with all-vegan meals, such as Libertine Bar and Samson's Hot Dogs, whose Christmas-time vegan holiday dinner sold out. Fearing's is one of the few current fine-dining restaurants on board, with a weekly vegetarian version of its Sunday brunch.
Since opening in December, Wayward Sons has made a mark with its vegetarian charcuterie — with sunchoke pâté, lentil sausage, butternut squash-and-mushroom terrine, pickles, and roasted root vegetables — a dish earning enthusiastic write-ups by blogs like Eater. And part of the restaurant's initiative includes produce grown on premise, similar to programs at Garden Cafe.
"We got this garden on a converted spot next to the patio," Dodds says. "It has seven raised beds and we have big tank to save rainwater. In the spring, we'll put a table out there when it gets nicer, so people can eat out in the garden."
The Garden Series five-course dinner will begin at 7 pm and is $65 per person. For reservations, call 214-828-2888.