This Vegan Dinner Membership Is Philly’s Candy Little Secret

Tucked away on a slender aspect road in south Philadelphia, a transformed warehouse sits. It’s not stuffed with dusty bins or storage cabinets, however with hanging plant pots dripping with flowering succulents. A rolling glass storage door curls away to disclose a comfortable inside of blush pink partitions, mismatched hanging image frames, and fewer than a dozen petite tables punctuated with flickering candles and Mason glass jars of contemporary flowers.

Miss Rachel’s Pantry

However you received’t discover any menus to pore over or to-go diners grabbing takeout orders—the eatery, open only some nights every week, hosts five-course, set-menu, farmhouse-style meals that friends reserve weeks upfront. That is Miss Rachel’s Pantry, and together with utterly dwelling as much as its slogan as “a candy little vegan restaurant,” it’s additionally simply probably the greatest within the nation.

7E675BF9-9A53-4F4C-BEFB-4A62C2318F58Miss Rachel’s Pantry

How did all of it start?

Chef Rachel Klein—Miss Rachel herself and the mastermind behind the meticulously curated weekly menus—started her culinary journey as a vegetarian rising up in a decidedly non-vegetarian family. Between taking occasional cooking courses and alternating by means of just a few front-of-house positions in varied eating places, Klein’s ardour for the culinary world blossomed. However it wasn’t till she started working as a personal chef and wedding ceremony caterer, promoting vegan meals at Philly punk reveals on the aspect, {that a} dream to open her personal brick-and-mortar location took maintain.

In 2012, after operating her catering enterprise by means of shared kitchens and her personal tiny condominium, Miss Rachel’s Pantry (a reputation impressed by her grandparents’ Nineteen Fifties luncheonette, The Pantry) opened its first tiny location within the West Passyunk neighborhood of Philadelphia. Simply three years later, the Pantry expanded, shifting 5 minutes away to a way more spacious location in its present neighborhood house. 

Rachel KleinRachel Klein

All the things concerning the area is charming, from the retro fridge tucked right into a nook to the nice and cozy glow from the hanging globe lights. However as soon as you are taking your seat on the white, café-style tables, that’s when the consolation actually begins. A sublime place card is laid earlier than every visitor, informing them of the 5 programs for the night. To make sure nobody taste overpowers one other, Klein takes particular care to steadiness salty, spicy, or in any other case pungent flavors in her creations. Warmth seekers and lovers of uncooked onion could also be momentarily disillusioned, however that’s positive to dissipate because the concord of the meal begins to daybreak on them.

The restaurant is BYOB, which means diners can herald a bottle (or two) of wine, beer, or cider to get pleasure from with the pre-fixe menu. Servers circle the room in excellent synchronicity to make sure everybody’s drinks are located earlier than dinner begins, dropping off small plates of flaky biscuits with herbed butter to whet appetites earlier than the meal actually kicks into excessive gear.

Screen Shot 2023-09-19 at 1.11.38 PM@phillyveganspotlight

Homestyle cooking meets wonderful eating

Whereas nobody dinner is ever the identical, a cohesive meal that flows from begin to end is assured, and at Miss Rachel’s Pantry which means the primary course is at all times soup. Contemporary corn bisque with palmito crab meat (comprised of hearts of palm) napped with chive-infused oil and sautéed, garlicky corn or native heirloom tomato bisque with golden-fried, ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms dabbed with lemon crema, habanada pepper (a pepper that tastes like habanero, minus the spice), and basil agave honey will sprint any misguided perception that soup can’t be a stand-out dish. Particularly for those who occur to luck upon a bowl with meaty additions like apple cider seitan and chestnut sausage served over a easy celeriac-rutabaga bisque completed with chutney-glazed golden croutons.

Screen Shot 2023-09-19 at 1.08.29 PMMiss Rachel’s Pantry

The second course turns the main target to salads, however don’t count on watery iceberg or bland vinaigrettes. As a substitute, the restaurant’s housemade cheeses are sometimes the star of creations resembling a fig and cold-smoked watermelon salad with contemporary cashew milk mozzarella, tossed in a wealthy maple-black garlic dressing and showered in a crispy cornmeal topping. In one other iteration, buttery cashew burrata sits like a crown jewel on a mattress of child gem lettuce, paper-thin slices of fennel, and juicy, rosé-colored grapefruit segments earlier than being wearing a aromatic basil French dressing and sprinkled with heat, toasted hazelnuts. And typically, the salad course is changed with a chunk of vegan frittata served alongside rose radishes infused with smoke over delicate leaves of lettuce, with a pungent caper dressing and tangy-sweet caramelized onion and mustard jam. 

Screen Shot 2023-09-19 at 12.57.38 PMMiss Rachel’s Pantry

And whereas the restaurant focuses closely on homestyle meals, there’s a heavy lean towards Italian wonderful eating, with an ever-present housemade pasta course. Miss Rachel’s Pantry’s resident pasta professional Chef Rodger Holst masterfully transforms semolina flour into an assortment of stylish pasta dishes. Suppose spring pea and lemon ricotta-stuffed cappellacci with a light-weight, shiny lemon-butter sauce and parsley caviar. Or casoncelli full of contemporary chèvre, caramelized onion, and kabocha squash in a velvety sage cream with apple sausage. The inventiveness doesn’t cease there. Rachel’s has even mastered a vegan model of squid ink-style, crab-stuffed cappellacci served in a conventional wine-butter sauce with micro-scale, plant-based capesante (a Mediterranean scallop). 

Screen Shot 2023-09-19 at 1.01.19 PMMiss Rachel’s Pantry

Transferring into the fourth course, plates are cleared to make means for what would historically be a “meat course,” however in fact, at Miss Rachel’s Pantry, it’s a possibility to indicate off the kitchen’s unbelievable transformation of greens. Shredded hearts of palm are became fried, crispy palmito piccata and served with seared maitake mushrooms over a mattress of whipped rutabaga and flash-seared rapini. Entire roasted maitake mushrooms are crafted right into a refined and hefty meatloaf that includes a crunchy, Maillard-induced crust—left over from a glazing of sticky-sweet, black garlic ketchup—locking in moisture, whereas a dousing of mushroom-red wine gravy provides much more unctuous richness. 

In one other mouthwatering entrée, a juicy watermelon fillet is coated in a beneficiant crust of crushed pistachios and sesame seeds earlier than being seared and positioned over a mattress of creamy, whipped eggplant with a bracing lemon-horseradish tzatziki and a aspect of garlicky inexperienced beans. Each meaty foremost shines shiny give attention to crops, with all the pieces lovingly made in-house with not a single meat alternative in sight. Even essentially the most veg-skeptic eater could be hard-pressed to go away a lick of the peerlessly balanced sauces, whips, or glazes behind on their plates. 

Don’t skip dessert

As stuffed diners contentedly lean again of their chairs, forks clinking down onto plates, and a low rumble dialog rising within the dimly lit area, tables are cleared to make means for a really spectacular dessert course. Miss Rachel’s Pantry lets pastry chef Carley Leibowitz lead a candy finale that’s indulgent with out being too cloying or heavy.

Screen Shot 2023-09-19 at 2.09.02 PM@carley.muffins/Instagram

The course might go chocolaty—like a spongy cacao-hazelnut cake topped with crunchy sugared hazelnut brittle and a scoop of impossibly mild vanilla bean ice cream with a beneficiant drizzle of salted caramel sauce. It might go Mexican-inspired. Suppose moist tres leches cake topped with melt-in-your-mouth, brown sugar ice cream, spiced pears, and candied slivered almonds. Or possibly fruity—the fluffy lemon cake with a thick vanilla buttercream frosting topped with a neighborhood blueberry compote and lime leaf-purple basil ice cream will win over even the staunchest of chocoholics. 

Screen Shot 2023-09-19 at 2.10.14 PM@carley.muffins/Instagram

Every dessert is designed to go away happy diners with a candy notice on the finish of every meticulously crafted meal. Friends luxuriate over miniature cups of espresso or steaming mugs of tea as they chat with Klein herself, who makes the rounds to thank every celebration for attending as a delicate hum of dialog softly fills the glowing restaurant. The small transformed warehouse looks like a real neighborhood gathering for that golden second in time, and everybody lingers to get pleasure from it.

As friends rise from their tables and start to slowly file out of the comfy eating area and again into Philadelphia’s buzzing Saturday evening, they’re left with the lingering tastes of an unforgettable meal and the heat that comes from Miss Rachel and her candy little vegan restaurant.

For extra restaurant information, learn: