As vegans, we consume a plant-based diet. That means no meat, poultry, fish, milk, butter, cheese, or other dairy, and no eggs. You might think it would be hard for us to dine out, but it is actually getting much easier. The roster of Litchfield County vegans is growing, and a number of savvy restaurants are catering to the increasing demand. Here are some of our favorite plant-based menu finds in the county.
Community Table, New Preston Seasonal vegetarian offerings are the best in the county—or anyplace else. The most recent included Chef Joel Viehland’s smoked baby heirloom potatoes with tiny carrots, radishes, unusual micro lettuces, and crunchy kale—all perfectly dressed. House-made vegan sorbets taste like the fresh fruit they are made from. Nirvana.
Hidden Valley Eatery, Washington If you appreciate locavore foods that are fresh, healthy, and organic, this is your place. The vegan pizza with thin, house-made crust and grilled veggies is better than most cheese pizzas we have eaten. You can also add Daiya cheese, a vegan substitute, but it is delicious without. Owner Drew Stichter is an accomplished chef, and his soups, many vegan, are divine. Try the green juice (an acquired taste, we admit)—a garden blast of kale, broccoli, celery, parsley, ginger, and apple—freshly pressed and so healthy.
GW Tavern, Washington Depot Their tasty black-bean-quinoa cake is nutty, flavorful, and worth the trip. Sweet-potato fries are perfectly crisp, and most of the salads can be made vegan. Owner John VandenBosch reports that even his non-vegan clients love his plant-based dishes.
Norakami, Washington Depot Vegan sushi includes a mixed-veggie roll with pickled daikon radishes, carrots, lettuce, avocado, and cucumber. Or try the generous avocado salad with ginger dressing. Chef Makota Sekikawa’s two most unusual offerings are gomadofu, a silky sesame tofu, and goma-ae, baby spinach in sesame sauce.
The Pantry, Washington Depot The veggie sandwich on a homemade baguette is a favorite, and soups are often vegan. Try the house-made salsa and guacamole, Alsatian potato salad, and vegan trail-blazer cookies. Pre-order the vegan moussaka, exotically spiced and flavorful. Owner Michael Ackerman also keeps plenty of choices in the case ready to go.
The Smithy, New Preston Come for the takeout—like fresh quinoa, hummus, and bean salads and a selection of soups, breads, and gourmet meals. Co-owner Howard Rosenfeld strives to “buy and shop local” and supplements dishes with produce from his organic garden.
Toll Gate Inn, Litchfield This pretty restaurant has quite a few dishes that are vegan, like the quinoa-stuffed poblano pepper and the house-made veggie burger (brown rice, lentils, beets instead of the usual soy) with hand-cut fries. Veganize salads by leaving off the cheese.
The Upper Crust, New Milford This fine Italian trattoria is run by Chef William Cosgrove, a colleague of Mario Batali. Try the roasted vegetable salad, roasted cauliflower with garlic, or sauteed white beans and escarole—all perfectly prepared and authentic.
West Street Grill, Litchfield Co-owner James O’Shea follows a vegan diet, although you will still find specialty meats and fish on the menu. Popular standbys include chopped kale and cranberry salads, egg-free bread with olive oil for dipping, pasta topped with a house-made tomato sauce, and house-made sorbets. They serve some of the best soups in the county.
White Horse Tavern, New Preston Ask owners John and Lisa Harris for the vegan menu, and try the roasted vegetable panini with sweet potato fries, the Portobello mushroom burger, or the vegetable pad thai. Most salads can be “veganized.”