4 Course Vegan
Last weekend I headed to NYC to spend some time visiting my grandparents and sister. Despite NY being home to three of my favorite family members, it is not my favorite place. I don’t know if it’s the crowds, the confusing (to me) subway system, or the fact that money magically escapes my wallet every time I’m there (to expenses, not pick pocketing), but NYC is just not for me. Except for one thing: the food. Nowhere else, besides maybe San Fran, are there SO many varieties of restaurants to choose from, including a boat load of vegan establishments. So if I’m gonna go to NYC, especially when it’s during a 112 degree heat index, I sure as heck am going to get my fill of vegan faire. That is one thing Boston is sorely lacking.
Imagine my surprise when my omnivore sister suggested 4 Course Vegan, an underground-type dinner run by Chef Matteo. I was surprised because every time I tell her I want to try a new vegan spot, she tells me “I’ll only go if they serve meat.” I don’t know how, or why, but this time I won with a 100% vegan spot! We walked down an alley between apartment buildings in Williamsburg to get to the loft apartment nestled in the back. My sister and I didn’t even know what to expect, since I hardly looked at the 4coursevegan.com website before arriving, and had no idea we’d be in someone’s home! Imagine opening your doors to 40 strangers every Saturday night for four home-cooked courses of vegan food. Mateo’s walls were lined with bins of sesame, chickpea flour and other ingredients. I assume the chef’s bedroom was right upstairs, and there we all were traipsing through his bathroom and living room, but in a purely responsible way of course. All of his meals are based around local, seasonal food and the menu changes every week for $40 per person.
What we ate:
Ravioli (I think the “skin” was made of turnip) with cashew cheese filling and basil puree.
Chilled (thank heavens!) Lemongrass Coconut Bisque with Cherry Tomatoes and Smokey Shiitakes. Please forgive the crummy photos – I only had my iPhone on hand and some dim lighting!
Coriander-spiced Zucchini Pancake with Cucumber Relish and Homemade Sriracha
(Renee will want me to tell you that we’re shiny because it was 150 degrees in there.)
Basil Corn Croquette with Adzuki Miso Eggplant and Roasted Chile Puree.
What I was looking forward to all night: Cocoa Butter Blondie with Local Berries and Coco Butter Mousse. That mousse was so rich and thick! I think there was a mint sauce. See the bins of flour behind me?
It was so impressive to see what Matteo created for 40 or so people in his loft apartment’s kitchen. We were squeezed in at a long table seating 12 people, so close you were breathing on each other. I think this coziness would have been totally fine if it weren’t for the one ceiling fan “cooling” us off and lack of ice cubes on a 100+ degree night but it gave us the opportunity to chit chat with our dinner partners and made for a more interesting experience. If you’re not the type who likes dining with strangers, this probably isn’t for you. But we spent most of the time wondering out loud with our dinner companions how on earth Chef Matteo makes this happen every week! His food is restaurant-quality, the setting is clean, and everyone seemed just happy to be there. If you’re looking for a new non-restaurant dining experience, I’d highly recommend it!
There was one server for the night, I think her name was Carly and she was super sweet, even after I had some food snafus, sending me home with homemade chocolate macaroons to make up for it. She was a real champ weaving between tables as the only server for 40 hungry diners. My sister and I split a bottle of wine, since it’s BYOB there.
I wonder why Chef Matteo doesn’t open up a restaurant, but if his sole mission is to share great tasting vegan meals with others, as well as his passion for good cooking and a welcome atmosphere, he has nailed it.