I admit that I am not a Vegan, but I love Vegan food more for its creativity and flavor profiles than for the lifestyle and health/dietary benefits. Coincidentally Chef Phillip Frankland Lee isn’t a Vegan either, but his wife, Margarita, is. He says that he never had the intentions of opening a Vegan restaurant, but his newest venture, The Gadarene Swine, fell into place somehow. Ironically, his other restaurant Scratch Bar (a restaurant that I have yet to visit) is the exact opposite with a meat focused menu.
What I loved about the Chef’s menu at The Gadarene Swine was trying a tasting of almost everything from the regular menu. One of my favorite dishes was the table side Roasted Corn on the Cob. The leftovers of our Garlic and Thyme Popcorn is set on fire. Then, with a small wire rack, the mini cauldron instantly transforms into a barbecue grill for two pieces of raw corn. The end result is a roasted corn that tastes and smells like fresh herby popcorn.
The wine list is a notable one, but instead, there are these alcohol-induced pressed fruit juices to drink. The Watermelon Lime Vodka juice is potent, very potent.
The Honey Fried Olives Stuffed Olives were amazing. Not fair that my friend and I each got two pieces to eat, because we really wanted to have a couple dozen of them. It’s two different types of olives, one stuffed into the other, battered, and deep fried until piping hot and crispy. Oh, they are so addicting!
I loved the combination that makes up the Hummus dish presented in a not-so Mediterranean way. Potatoes, tomatoes, seaweed, and hummus goes so well together. I also enjoyed the Fall season flavors of the Roasted Mushrooms with Burnt Sweet Potato. Then there’s the Strawberry Arugula combo that’s surrounded in a sea of a champagne and strawberry gazpacho or what the chef says his staff calls it, “…an adult version of Jamba Juice.” The gazpacho has a nice brightness that it mellows out the peppery notes of the arugula salad. It’s a lovely dish.
Ah, dessert! There was so much to love about the deconstructed Caramelized Pear Pie a la mode with a Pecan Ice Cream made with a combination of coconut cream and almond milk. It’s a captivating dessert. The pie crumble in this dessert is more flavorful than a traditional pie crust. I love it. The chef’s wife who is also the the Pastry Chef presented this and another dessert, a Tres Leches Cake with a Grapefruit Granita and a bit of Cotton Candy.
The fine dining experience on Vegan food was truly amazing at The Gadarene Swine. The Service was excellent throughout the dinner service, which is exactly what I look for in any fine dining establishment. The romantic ambiance in the garden patio and inside the restaurant is very inviting. Then there’s the the well-rounded yet creative Chef’s menu of a gratifying array of Vegan cuisine that makes you forget that you’re eating wholesome food made without animal products.
It seemingly was a lot of food to dine on in one sitting. During the course of our conversations with Chef Phillip Frankland Lee, he had subtly mentioned that more dishes might served depending on whether he liked his customers or not. I think he liked us. You see, he and his wife were planning to stay for only 30 minutes and then head out to their other restaurant, Scratch Bar. Instead, they stayed and spent the entire evening with us talking about food and the inspirations behind creation of the Vegan dishes.
The Gadarene Swine
11266 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604