Great Vegan Restaurants: Sutra

As an honored new blogger for HappyCow.net, I am excited to blog about vegan restaurants around the country.  I travel every week and one of the first things I always do when I go to a new city is get on HappyCow to find out what the best vegan restaurants and grocery stores are in the town I am visiting!

Today, I kick off my blog with my all-time favorite restaurant, Sutra.  Located in Seattle, WA, Sutra is becoming famous for is incredible 4-course Prix Fixe meals made by rising star vegan chef, Colin Patterson.  As the former Executive Chef for Blossoming Lotus on Kauai, Colin is renowned for his culinary expertise in both vegan and raw cuisine.  Eventually, he returned to his hometown of Seattle, where he opened both Sutra restaurant and Sutra Yoga with his partner, Amber, and best friend Aaron.

In many vegan restaurants, the menu is dominated by meat substitutes.  Yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen tofu, seitan or tempeh on a plate at Sutra.  There is no veganaise, soy cheese or margarine used in anything.  Even their coconut ice creams are made from scratch.

Every day, Colin gets local, organic food that is in season, and puts together a menu for the week based on the freshest ingredients he can find.  But Colin, Amber and Aaron are not only committed to serving true vegan cuisine, they are also dedicated to doing so in a sustainable fashion.  Rightly so, they are very proud that their bar is made from driftwood, they print their weekly menus on 100% recycled garbage bags, and they compost so much of their waste that their garbage can at the restaurant fills up slower than the one in their home.

However, if all this impresses you, wait until you taste the food.  Having eaten there well over a dozen times, I generally take one bite and exclaim, “This is the best meal I’ve ever had!”  Relying on the food to create the flavor – not salt, sugar or condiments – you will be surprised at just how amazing smoked lentils, morels, and arugula can taste.  And be surprised!  Even though I eat at restaurants more than I eat at my own home, there is always something on the menu I have never heard of in my life!

My great friend, Sharon, and I meet almost monthly at Sutra for a girls’ night out.  Last week, we had an amazing course of “Roasted Cauliflower, Mung Bean, Cashew Cheese, House-Smoked Morel Cake, served atop Sauteed Chard & Radish Greens, finished with a Black Lemon-Molasses Reduction, Peppercress Oil and finished with Parsnip Chips.”  It was divine. We took tiny little bites to savor it, and completely forgot whatever it was we were talking about.  While you won’t get to choose what you want off a menu (it’s prix fixe, with one menu for the night), you can absolutely sit back a know with full confidence that you will absolutely love whatever is put in front of you.  If you have food allergies or sensitivities to salt, alcohol, etc, Colin will warmly take care of you.

Let me finish with some tips for dining at Sutra.  Sutra is a small restaurant, and is becoming very popular.  On a recent Wednesday night, they turned away 15 people.  They have a 7:00 seating on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and 6:30 and 9:00 seatings on Friday and Saturday.  Price is $35 for all four courses – drinks are extra.

If you’re coming alone or with just one other person, consider sitting at the bar where you can watch Colin cook, and chat with him and Aaron throughout the night.  There are only four seats at the bar. If you’d like a glass of wine, make sure Aaron knows you’d like a vegan wine.  They have many to choose from, but not all of their wines are vegan.  Also, don’t forget to make a reservation – even to sit at the bar.  It is unlikely to be able to walk in without a reservation given how popular the restaurant has become.  If you want reservations for a late seating on Friday or Saturday, you can probably get away with calling one day ahead or maybe on the actual day.  For any other seatings, call several days ahead, if not a full week or two.

Finally, plan on sitting back, being well-taken care of, and thoroughly enjoying your dinner.  You will not be disappointed!

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