The Vegetarian Option: Pacific Northwest Tasting Menu at Green Zebra
Every Tuesday at Green Zebra, chef de cuisine Jon DuBois crafts a five-course themed tasting menu for $38, with wine pairings an additional $17 (which I consider a steal). Previously, Chef DuBois' tasting menus have been based on specific ingredients, from pumpkin to chocolate, but the current tasting series is inspired by different regions of the United States.
Last week, I tried the Pacific Northwest tasting menu, featuring several plates of filling and delicious veggie fare. Everything at the restaurant is vegetarian and the regular menu has a small plates format. Based on how much I enjoyed the tasting menu, I definitely plan to return, preferably with a flock of vegetarian friends so we can try as many dishes as possible.
Our meal started with a refreshing bite of parsnip tarragon purée topped with apple chive salad.
Whole wheat beer bread was soft, with a hearty crust that reminded me of my favorite German brown breads. Blackberry jam and apple poppy seed butter accompanied the bread, and the butter was naturally my favorite.
Torn mint brightened up chilled fava beans, which were served with a walnut cracker and sheep's milk gouda cheese.
The 'perfect' farm egg that came next was indeed poached perfectly, so the yolk was thick and creamy. I swirled the yolk over crunchy charred asparagus and pickled ramps. The horseradish espuma was very spicy, and along with the egg, it accentuated the freshness of the vegetables.
Perhaps my favorite course of the night was the smoked Yukon Gold potato gnocchi. Gnocchi are often too doughy or dense, but these miniature fluffy potato dumplings managed to stay light, and I loved the slight char on the edges from the pan. Sautéed fiddlehead ferns and hedgehog mushrooms that tasted almost like bacon adorned the dish, and a lemon pepper aioli provided necessary acidity underneath.
Dessert was light and fun, a rhubarb sorbet served with Pinot-poppy seed marshmallows, crumbled graham cracker and a white chocolate tuile. I'm not normally a marshmallow fan but these were very unique, with the poppy seeds adding an unexpected pop. By the end of the night, I was full, as were my dining companions, including two bigger hungry guys who had been skeptical about a vegetarian restaurant.