2 August, 2010
Vegan Brunch at the Pinhook (Downtown Durham) *DISCONTINUED*Posted in : Restaurants on by : The Gourmez
Close to a year ago now, the Pinhook, a downtown Durham rock venue, started hosting vegan brunches on the first Sundays of the month. Chef Shirle was the cook for these relaxed dining events back then, but the cooking was transferred over to the Fiction Kitchen a few months ago. I’d been hearing about the brunches since they first started, and being someone who never minds when meat goes missing from a meal, I wanted to check them out. The stars finally aligned this past weekend. The first thing I learned:
This is a popular event! I got to the Pinhook at almost 12:30 and the line was about halfway down the block. It went slowly, though the wait was definitely hastened by chatting with a couple of regulars at the monthly events and an out-of-towner who’d driven from High Point to attend. Only about 10 more people were able to get in after I did, and then the food was out. So if you’re interested in checking out the next one, make sure to get there early!
After paying my $7 at the door, I moved right over to the sheet-covered pool table where Caroline and Siobhan, Fiction Kitchen’s owners and chefs, were serving up the grub. On the menu were a summer squash gratin with creamy béchamel, crepes with asparagus and pea and mint puree, and roasted tomato ragout. The price included a portion of all three options and either coffee or tea. Seating was a free-for-all with people lounging all over the Pinhook’s couches and chairs as well as sitting on the stage and a few tables outside.
The Pinhook also had a bartender on staff if you wanted a Bloody Mary ($7) or Versailles ($6) to go with your brunch. I must say, that was the strangest Bloody Mary I’ve ever had. It was really thick and had some sort of unusual flavor that wasn’t to my liking. I want to say it was olive juice, but I’m hoping someone from the Pinhook will find this blog and jump in with the right mystery ingredient. It was moderately spicy.
What about that food, you say?
I liked the crepes the best and thought their texture was pretty good, even without eggs to fluff them up. Caroline said they hadn’t come out quite like she wanted, but with the pea and mint puree to kick up the flavor, I thought they were tasty. The squash in the squash gratin was definitely overcooked but managed to taste bright and sweet anyhow. The ragout was fine, too, but I don’t think I’d go back just on the basis of the food offered—and since the menu changes each time, this month’s okay meal could easily be a fantastic one the next time. But the real reason to go to the monthly brunch is for the vibe: a homemade meal with a bunch of mostly late twenty- to early fortysomething Durhamites (and some out-of-towners and fifty- to sixtysomethings, too) with similar food philosophies getting together. Not being a vegan, I can’t quite imagine how exciting it is to find an opportunity to eat out with a menu solely designed to fit your culinary needs, and from the line and the smiles of the crowd, I’d say that it has definitely created a sense of community among the vegan and vegetarian folks around here. Everyone seemed happy to be there to support the effort to provide a vegan option for eating out, if only once a month.
Have you been and would you agree? How was the food at other brunches? Caroline is toying with the idea of “crab” cakes and creamed corn for the next one.