I’ll be honest, when I first heard that my friend had planned his going away dinner with a group of Baltimore-area based Vegans for 6:30 on a Friday night in DC, I wasn’t thrilled. Traffic getting in to DC can be a bear, and add to that rush hour on a Friday evening and it can be a nightmare. However, when I began to learn more about Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, a raw vegan restaurant that’s only open on Fridays but has a stellar menu, I couldn’t wait!
I arrived in downtown DC just before 6. The streets were jam-packed with cars that were weaving an intricate pattern through the intersections. I found myself at the corner of L Street and 13th — a block from the venue. Walking down the street, I found a man, blindfolded with arms outstretched. The sign at his feet read, “FREE HUGS.” I obliged, giving a tight embrace.
“Thank you,” he said. “That was a great hug!”
I walked down a few more storefronts I pulled out my phone to check the address. Looking down, I noticed the sandwich board, just there before me.
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw
Raw • Vegan • Organic
I walked up the steps, a hostess opened the door. I was the first to arrive, so I took a seat at the bar. I ordered a cocktail, The Name of the Rose (I believe that’s what it was called), from the bar tender. He prepared it with such care. Garnished which lime zest. Servers came out and lovingly set a bowl of kale chips before me. Little did I know the kale chips would be edoes, from the moment I sat at the bar to our table, the kale chips would always be there. And oh, those kale chips. Those cheesey, spicy, satiating kale chips!
One-by-one, the party arrived. We made our way up to our table, right by the front window. Servers came to take our drink orders; Eric and myself opted for the sommelier-selected organic wine pairings to complement the seven course prix fixe menu. Almost immediately, 14 servers, all dressed in black, approached for their choreographed placing of our first plates. Among the servers, Elizabeth herself came to say hello.
The tomato-basil preserve on a cracker was flavorful, but gone too soon. The wine pairing was perfect and helped the flavor linger until course number two arrived.
The fromage plate was, I believe, my favorite. The truffle cheese and the paprika cheese were phenomenally flavorful. The truffle aroma was delicious, and the grapes were a sweet and refreshing complement. Again, it was gone too soon.
The artful and synchronized delivery of the plates continued to impress me throughout the evening. The cauliflower soup was served, garnished with a potato crisp. I was pleasantly surprised with the soup, even more so with the crisp, particularly when softened slightly by the soup.
Course number four: cold-pressed baby Lincoln leeks; garnished much like a salad but with a bull’s blood beet emulsion, rather than a dressing. However, the salt-cured candy onions stole this show. They were tangy and crisp. At this point in the evening, I was wondering if there’d ever be a dish delivered less than perfect.
But what’s more perfect than a pre-dessert? That’s right, prior to the “main course” of the evening, we were served a mango coconut-raspberry sorbet, with an almond crumble base. Delicious. Refreshing. All the while, the wine has still been a perfect combination throughout.
It was getting dark as we were served our Parsnip and Fennel flan. The texture was impressive, and like all the courses before, the garnish made for a work of art.
As the night was winding down, our final course arrived. Key lime pie. A perfect little square over a strawberry glaze-like spread at the bottom of the bowl. The night ended, and nothing was delivered less than perfect.
I was thoroughly impressed with every course, with the delivery, with the plating, with the wine pairings. I can understand why Elizabeth’s Gone Raw receives such great reviews. The entire experience was phenomenal. The spaces was ornate yet still felt humble, not pretentious.
It didn’t hurt that the company was so charming. My dear friend, Eric! What a fantastic suggestion for his moving away party! He and I met on a vegan cruise and his final days in the Maryland area were shared at some wonderful vegan experiences. I’m so happy to know him and I look forward to the next times we will see each other again!
For the full, seven course menu we enjoyed, see the details below:
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw
1341 L Street, Washington, DC 20005
Friday Night Raw Menu | September Menu 2016
Polish Linguisa Tomato-Basil Preserve
Fromage Duo truffle cheese & paprika cheese, blue moon grapes, caraway crackers, lavender syrup
Cauliflower Soup crispy spinach & curry, D’Anjou pears, potato crisp
Cold Pressed Baby Lincoln Leeks salt-cured white candy onions, sous vide carrots with juniper berries, bull’s blood beet emulsion, vanilla bean
Mango Coconut-Raspberry Sorbet almond crumble
Parsnip & Fennel Flan green pea espuma, hen of the woods, shallot, tarragon
Key Lime Pie strawberry under pressure with pecan & almond coconut nectar
The intimate, romantic lighting made for impossible photos. I’ve done my best to edit them, but I know they’re not wonderful.