City Paper is not for tourists
The Dish: Rutabaga Fondue
Where to Get It: Fancy Radish, 600 H St. NE
What It Is: A perfect little tray featuring a warm soft pretzel roll, a dish of assorted pickled vegetables, and a moat of the vegan fondue itself. Though it tastes complex, the dish incorporates but a few simple ingredients in addition to rutabaga. Miso lends an umami flavor, while the cheesy taste comes from nutritional yeast. Chef Richard Landau calls the yeast an “old vegan hippie trick.”
The Story: Landau first began serving a variation of this dish that was similar to a Welsh rarebit at his esteemed Philadelphia eatery, Vedge. Over time, it evolved into a whipped topping described by the staff as a rutabaga “cheese whiz,” that paired perfectly with the soft pretzels prepared by pastry chef Kate Jacoby, Landau’s wife and co-owner. When Landau first announced that he was planting his flag in D.C., he was deluged with emails from eager diners inquiring whether or not the fondue would be on the menu.
Why Even Meat Eaters Will Like It: Fake cheese is possibly the only veg-friendly food more maligned than fake meat, and rightfully so. Faux dairy is almost always a rubbery, bland, chemical-tasting letdown. Fancy Radish’s rutabaga fondue shakes that bad reputation. “I don’t believe in trying to imitate anything,” Landau says, preferring to let the rutabaga’s own delicate flavors shine instead of forcing an overtly cheesy taste. “To me, it’s going to be the next big vegetable.” Don’t be surprised if your dinner party scrapes at every last morsel of this dish, proving that Landau might be onto something.