These Are the Most Beautiful Vegan Dishes We’ve Ever Seen
The hottest restaurant opening in wine country just happens to be vegan. Welcome to Little Saint, where the dishes are meatless, locavore, and picture-perfect.
Not long ago in Sonoma County, plant-based, meatless, and vegan food was relegated to the hippier corners of the county. It was always there, but rarely celebrated in a place like Healdsburg, the picturesque town where restaurants typically serve what people think of as wine-country food, which is to say on the carnivorous side, with the requisite charcuterie boards and meaty entrées, presumably the better to stand up to an inky Cabernet or rich Russian River Pinot. But with the arrival of Little Saint, those days are solidly in the rearview mirror.
Little Saint is a not-very-little but indeed very saintly restaurant where sustainable agriculture and beautiful, better-for-you food coalesce in lovely ways. Housed in a sprawling 10,000-square-foot multi-use building, complete with a performance space, wine shop, and fancy grocery store, the restaurant also features soaring ceilings and an all-day menu that make for an inviting, come-as-you-are experience. This is the latest project from the people behind the world-renowned, three-Michelin-star wine-country destination restaurant SingleThread, with its multi-course tasting menu, Chef’s Table–level culinary inventiveness, and formal (for wine country) hospitality. Little Saint is more casual in format, but no less calculated in execution. Much of the produce comes from the same farm that provides vegetables and flowers to SingleThread. With Little Saint, we’ve moved along from the hippie associations and are now solidly in the era of haute oats for all.
Jokes aside, making excellent vegetables insanely delicious takes more skill than making decent meat taste good. Salty-fatty umami and seared animal protein is pretty much all it takes to make most omnivores happy. At Little Saint they deliver all the satisfaction we’ve come to expect from a top restaurant in vivid dishes that crackle with freshness, texture, and terroir. Here we share recipes that showcase the artistry of chef de cuisine Bryan Oliver and his team, who coax layers of flavor from well-sourced vegetables and herbs, spiced aggressively, and enriched with nuts and oils, to yet again illustrate how meatless can be more.