I arrived early, thinking I’d beat the crowd, but was I ever mistaken. Rumor has it there was a line of 25 people gathered outside before the event even started. I arrived at 6:15 to a packed house with a line out the door. I waited over an hour for a table for one, but didn’t mind a bit. I ordered a beer, shot some photos, watched the frantic waitstaff buzz around the restaurant, listened to the chatter & commentary of those enjoying food around me, & reveled in being part of the local vegan dining movement. We’ve come a long way!
The menu looked amazing & it was certainly hard to choose. I could’ve easily ordered one of each, but I refrained.
I started with the artichoke salad & it was wonderful. This was a no brainer for me, as I love artichokes & have been craving them since they’ve been coming back into season. The gingery notes in Ale did pair nicely with the sweet carrot & tangy citrus flavors in the salad. I also noticed a hint of red pepper, which gave a nice surprising kick.
OMG! OMG OMG! This one almost got away from me. I thought looked “interesting” on the menu, but tofu is one of those things that can go very badly if not seasoned well or prepared properly. I was set on ordering the Mushroom Risotto, but asked for recommendations from the patrons finishing their meals around me & the unanimous response was “Order the Tofu!” So I took heed & ordered the tofu. So glad I did. It was awesome. I loved their clever play on “tofu scallops,” as Sea Rocket is typically a sustainable seafood restaurant. The tofu was the perfect texture, & I loved the flavor combination with smokey tempeh. English peas are a favorite of mine & they did add a pop of spring freshness. The bright truffle vinaigrette was to die for – rich & silky & brought the entire dish together.
I did also enjoy the beer pairing which was meant to bring out the IPA’s tropical mango/pineapple notes. The people next to me kept tasting a bite of food, then a sip of beer, & would say “I totally get it.” But I sat there with crickets chirping, because I must say, as a novice beer drinker, I don’t really get it. But I never really get wine pairings either, & you know how much I love my wine. Maybe I need to take a class on pairings & tastings, or maybe I just need to slow down & pay more attention?
Of course I wasn’t getting out of there without dessert! Even though I’d just about given up on expecting a good vegan dessert at these types of events, I certainly wasn’t going to pass up chocolate cake. Especially after witnessing the faces of the other guests who were so deeply enjoying it. So here it is: HANDS DOWN THE BEST VEGAN CAKE I’VE EVER HAD! It was delightfully moist & rich, yet light & airy, & not at all too dense as vegan cake often is. The coconut sorbetto was lovely & not too sweet, & the whole dish was well balanced by the tartness of the rhubarb jam. When tasting all of the components together it reminded me slightly of one of my favorite gingerbread cakes. Well, well done. Finally someone gets it right.
I almost didn’t order the beer pairing – beer & cake? Where’s the champagne? I’m not typically a stout fan, but I was intrigued by the description & how it would pair with the cake. So I ordered it & you know what? I finally got it! I could really identify flavors of coffee & chocolate in the stout & thought it really worked well with the chocolate cake, even bringing out some caramel notes! I also thought you could do a great play on an “Affogato” by pouring this beer over the coconut sorbetto. Mmmm…that would rock.
I had such a blast & even did a little networking. I met a gentleman who organizes the San Diego Vegan Vagabond Meetup Group & can’t wait to join them on some of their adventures.
LOVELIKEBEER, I have to say “props to you” for putting on such a killer event with great vegan food, beer, atmosphere & charitable purpose. I’ve always wanted to start a “Vegan Drinks” monthly here in San Diego, but you guys took it to the next level. I am beyond thrilled to see the healthful/local/conscious eating movement pick up such great stride & be met with such support in this community.
P.S. While composing this post, I had a few email exchanges with Kory of LOVELIKEBEER. They were overwhelmed by the success of their first event & said it was one of Sea Rocket’s biggest nights in history. Awesome!