1027 University Avenue, Hillcrest
(No longer in business.)
My wife is vegan. Actually, she’s a vegetarian who doesn’t eat dairy.
Since she has long ago made peace with the fact that I don’t care what I put in my body, we get along fairly well on a dietary level.
It can be frustrating when I want to try a place with her, because some places just can’t handle vegan requests, like barbecue restaurants.
I have a special place in my heart for places that are willing to help vegans, like 100 Wines in Hillcrest.
It’s not marketed to vegans, but they were able to happily accommodate my wife while satisfying my desire for meat.
Two of the key appetizers at 100 Wines, the crispy cauliflower and the Bo Beau brussels sprouts, are served with pancetta and parmesan cheese. The dishes are excellent that way, but our waitress had the kitchen put the meat and the cheese on the side so my wife could enjoy them without worry.
They were great both ways.
I absolutely loved the roasted bone marrow served with brown butter capers and shallots, garlic and caramelized onion. A huge bone kind of like the one Fred Flintstone gets at the drive-in comes out on a plate with some bread, and you scoop the marrow from the bone.
It’s meaty, salty, slightly sweet with a great mouth feel.
My wife and I split the mixed green salad, which has toasted almonds, radish, cucumbers, blackberries and a basil vinaigrette. It comes with parmesan as well, but we asked for it to be nixed.
I liked it, but I was still crushing on the bone marrow.
For my entree, I got the braised pork belly, served with white beans, chorizo, squash with a lemon zest glaze.
This is one of those dishes that you fondly recall weeks after you eat it. The sweet fattiness of the pork belly combined with the spiciness of the chorizo is sublime. The cannellini beans take on the flavors of the pork and sausage beautifully.
There weren’t any specifically vegan entree items on the menu, but the chef made a tomato flatbread with kale that was delicious. My wife asked for an fried egg on top and was very happy with the results.
Yes, the place is called 100 Wines, but we chose to get cocktails instead.
The Gino Pepino mixes cucumber infused gin with muddled cucumber, lemon and housemade lemongrass syrup with a dash of cracked pepper. It's a great hot-weather cocktail!
The Herbal Smash mixes Svedka vodka with lime and muddled basil to good effect, but the Gino Pepino is still calling my name.
100 Wines definitely is designed with the Hillcrest local in mind. The setting is casual, but the food is something special. I'm looking forward to coming back for the pork belly again, and soon.