These days, figuring out vegan restaurants isn’t too difficult — meals free of meat, animal products and dairy.
But to get the nomenclature down might present a few challenges.
Woodhouse Vegan Cafe + Space, founded by sisters Cara and Nicole Woodhouse, stands firm to vegan principles down to the microscopic elements.
Yet, seeing chick’n tortilla soup ($6 a cup, $8 a bowl) might give some customers pause.
Not to worry, Cara Woodhouse says, because the chick’n is a soy-based product that tastes like the real thing. The sour cream is actually boiled cashews blended at a super-high velocity and mixed with some silken tofu. The fermented flavor comes from the spices in the soup.
In the bread-and-spread category, the garlic confit with hot hunny oil ($9) offers big elephant garlic cloves are cooked to spreadable in extra-virgin olive oil. The hunny, meanwhile, is a reduction of apples and chamomile with a spike of chile flake.
The plate is served with homemade focaccia, made daily by baker and pastry maker Abby Dillon.
“It’s an awesome sharable,” Cara Woodhouse said of the plate. “The nice thing about the bread-and-spreads is we’re able to mess around with it and use some things we normally don’t have.”
The Woodhouse sisters opened their brick-and-mortar restaurant in October 2019 in Italian Village. Three years prior, it was a pop-up restaurant in Oddfellows Liquor Bar in the Short North.
In fact, the sisters are making a comeback in the Short North, where they will be taking over the former Boxwood Biscuit Co. space at 19 W. Russell St. Cara Woodhouse said the restaurant is expected to open in the next two months. The Italian Village site will remain open.
The peanut stew ($19) is based on a West African dish that offers the thick stew alongside brown rice garnished with crushed peanuts and microgreens from Swainway Urban Farm in Clintonville.
“We’re all about recreating nostalgic meals,” she said.
All sauces are made from scratch. The restaurant tries to locally source as much of its products as possible and even grows herbs and vegetables in a garden out back.
OG loaded nachos ($10 for a smaller portion, $17 for a larger) uses a nacho cheese made of highly blended potatoes and carrots, a wet mix of nutritional yeast, chipotles and apple cider for a tangy flavor, plus layers of pico de gallo, chipotle black bean dip, corn guacamole, pickled red onions, jalapeno and scallions.
The cheezer Caesar sandwich ($17) is a spinoff of the “trustfall” ($16) — where a sandwich is made from ingredients based on the whim of the chef.
The cheezer offers gouda-like grilled cheese stuffed with the restaurant’s superfood Caesar — kale, hemp-heart crumbles, garlic, cashews, parmesan shreds and such — on Texas toast-sized bread from Klosterman Baking Co.
Desserts, which change frequently, are a big deal at the restaurant, Cara Woodhouse said.
Dillon makes vegan and gluten-free peanut-butter cookie ($4), vegan brown-butter sage cooke ($3) and three-layer chocolate cake ($8) by the slice.
Although the kitchen isn’t gluten-, nut- or soy-free, the kitchen does its best to limit contact of ingredients to diners who have dietary sensitivities, Cara Woodhouse said.
She said even the most steadfast carnivore will be impressed by the restaurant’s sausage, egg and cheese biscuit ($16). The egg, which has a familiar spongy texture, is made from mung bean protein. The sausage is a meat-based substitute from soy and gluten and seasoned with breakfast spices. The mayonnaise is mixture of aquafaba oil and spices salt. The biscuits are made fresh on Friday, the only day lunch is served.
“We absolutely love the mayonnaise,” she said. “It tastes a little bit different than the stuff you find on the shelves but it’s got a really creamy texture to it as well.”
Woodhouse Vegan Cafe + Space
Address: 841 N. 4th St., Italian Village
Hours: Lunch – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays; Dinner – 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays
Contact: 614-400-9127, https://www.woodhousevegan.com/