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Equinox expands vegan offerings to tasting menu

Friday - 1/31/2014, 7:46am  ET

Todd and Ellen Gray are giving vegans something to write home about: an upscale vegan tasting menu. (WTOP File Photo/Courtesy of Darko Zagar)

WASHINGTON - A few years ago, a D.C. culinary power couple proved that brunch doesn't have to be all about the bacon, buttermilk pancakes and cheesy grits, with an all-vegan brunch buffet at Muse Café.

The move may have been considered risky in a town that loves nothing more than leisurely Sunday mornings spent over mimosas and some iteration of pork.

But the brunch -- which features seasonal menu items, such as breakfast burritos, walnut cinnamon baklava and spinach rigatoni, as well as live music -- has proved to be popular over the years, for both vegans and non-vegans, alike.

And about two months ago, Todd and Ellen Gray decided to grow their venture in vegan cuisine with an exclusive vegan tasting menu at their fine-dining establishment, Equinox.

"They've been taking great strides towards expanding the vegan options available in the D.C. area," says Dining Bisnow Editor Alia Khan.

Equinox has always offered vegan and vegetarian items on the menu, but never a dedicated menu.

On the vegan tasting menu are items, such as black bean and walnut chili, Riesling-braised Belgium endive and orange-walnut spice cake.

The new menu is more than a nod to those who keep their diets free of animal products. The Grays are giving vegans an option for upscale cuisine, and are even offering vegan menus for promotions and holidays, such as Restaurant Week and Valentine's Day.

"All of their food, their non-vegan offerings are there, as well," Khan says about the menu at Equinox. "But now, the vegans of the city have a fine dining option they can turn to."

Vegan Food Grows in D.C.

Equinox isn't the only restaurant in the D.C. area where vegans can find delicious food. Here is a list of D.C.'s all-vegan restaurants:

Woodland's Vegan Bistro: This Georgia Avenue restaurant, formerly Everlasting Cafe, serves everything from hot-bar foods, to sandwiches and salads.

Sticky Fingers Sweets and Eats: In search of vegan baked goods? This Columbia Heights bakery serves sticky buns, as well as salads and brunch favorites.

Elizabeth's Gone Raw: OK, so it's not technically a restaurant: Elizabeth's Gone Raw is a mix between a catering company and an event space. And the company does everything from raw appetizers, to heavy hors d'oeuvres and full dinners.

Loving Hut: Located in Falls Church, Va., this restaurant serves vegan Asian cuisine.

Several other restaurants are doing something similar to the Gray's: They are weaving in vegan menu options with their regular food items. Founding Farmers has several vegan options throughout its menu, and marks these items for guests to easily see. Busboys and Poets, Mandu, Sticky Rice and Pizzeria Paradiso have similar approaches with their menus.

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