Amy McNutt and James Johnston, the founders of one of DFW’s premiere vegan eateries, Spiral Diner, have traveled all over eating vegan food and were inspired by the tasting menus they came across elsewhere. So, they decided to create what didn’t exist — and managed to bring us Texas’s first vegan tasting menu. And they’re doing it in Cowtown, no less.
McNutt walked Eater Dallas through five courses of the eight-course menu with which Maiden will open on June 2. “We’re changing the menu every equinox and solstice, because we’re like that,” she says with a grin. If you’re not an astrology baby, that means these dishes will be available through June 20.
The intimate space will welcome groups large and small — it has booths that seat eight to 10 — and folks who just want to stop by for a cocktail at the bar. Dinner is $150 per person, with option wine and cocktail pairings available for an additional cost. Read on for a look at what its first menu offers.
Lemongrass grapefruit consomme
“A consomme is a traditional way to start off a tasting menu, it’s something light. But vegan consomme is something I’ve rarely seen because it’s usually clarified with gelatin. We use a vegan gelatin, and it’s so much easier to work with because you don’t have to bloom it. We like to start off with this French recipe and show that a vegan version is not only doable but easier. For the flavors, we wanted to come up with the most unusual but still delicious and complimentary flavors. Especially in the Texas Rio Valley, all the good spring grapefruit is still available, and while we were thinking about what we could add that would be unusual, caraway and lemongrass came to mind.”
The dish is pictured above with the Arsenic and Old Lace cocktail, made using gin, dry vermouth, creme de violette, absinthe, and a lemon twist.
Confit zucchini walnut puree in roasted parsnip
“This dish is served with a shallot jam and toasted sourdough, and can be eaten like a spreadable dip. You can also eat the parsnip, which has been roasted with that good, rich filling. It’s designed to remind people of bone marrow, which I have never had but recognize as a dish that’s served at fine dining places. It’s a nod to the dish, and a statement that you can get the delicious, fatty, sweet flavors out of plants and present it in a way that looks cool. You can eat the parsnip for that crunch, but some people might prefer to scrape out the filling and leave it.”
“This is a play on potato leek soup, which is something my dad made in a giant pressure cooker when I was a kid. He would use heavy whipping cream and so much butter, it was so rich. We wanted to do something that rich, so we decided to make a leek croquette starting with a bechamel that we sweat leeks into so it’s super flavorful. On the outside and creamy bechamel on the inside that’s almost like mashed potatoes. It’s served with a crispy fondant potato, seared and cooked in broth. This is a bite to be picked up and eaten.”
The dish is pictured above with the Tango Nuevo cocktail, made with vodka, a plant-based honey called Mellody, and coffee liquor.
Poached cream of cauliflower with zucchini peanut pasta
“This dish has vegan egg noodles, which I’ve never seen elsewhere. We make them ourselves and adding that creaminess is nice, it makes them richer. The poached cream of cauliflower is a puree seasoned with coriander that may be hard to place at first, because it’s a strange combination of flavors. The poached cauliflower on top is thermo-reversible, so they’re solid spheres when they come to the table but as you start eating it turns into a cream sauce.”
Olive oil cake
“You can’t go wrong with olive oil cake. It’s salty, fatty, sweet, and decadent in a small portion to end the meal. We’ve been making it for a couple of years and it’s always a hit with our friends. It’s got a little orange liquor that is a through-line to the spring and citrus theme from the first course.”
Maiden is at 1216 6th Ave. in Fort Worth. It opens for service on Friday, June 2.