Thursday, August 18, 2022

Adaptability with flavor: Where you can find vegan options in the area

Williamsburg is definitely not short of food options, but if you follow a vegan diet, dining out options may be scarce.

While some restaurants offer a few vegan items, there are hardly any places in the Historic Triangle with completely vegan menus.

Sometimes, all we need to get by is a little bit of adaptability.

LOKAL is a whole foods coffee lounge and restaurant in Williamsburg. While their menu involves a lot of vegan ingredients, they prioritize providing the most sustainable options, meaning they do not use processed or artificial preservatives in their food.

Eric Christensen, owner of LOKAL, drives to pick up bulk orders from farmers in the area about once a month. Sometimes he will go as far as Winston-Salem, North Carolina to pick up sustainably sourced ingredients.

“If I can get something locally within 50 miles that’s awesome,” he said. “There’s not a lot of organic growing going on. The land is too expensive.”

The farms he does business with either don’t use chemicals, like harsh pesticides on their crops, or they use other organic methods, such as planting with the seasons, to get the most out of their crops.

“It takes a little while to find those people, but once you find them, and you partner with them and pay them a fair price, then you get a good reliable source,” Christensen added.

He and his wife lived in Switzerland for 12 years before moving to Williamsburg. In Europe, Christensen said he could go to the supermarket and have locally-sourced food or walk up the hill to buy products from one of the farmers.

“From a sustainability perspective, we want to support local farmers. With the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge support of local farmers,” he said.

Eric Christenson, owner of Lokal, slices open a piece of flat bread produced on site April 14, 2016. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)

LOKAL’s menu has vegan items like muffins, bread pudding, and homemade almond milk and breads. They also have a vegetable soup that comes with their vegan sourdough bread on the side. Their menu changes with the season.

Williamsburg also has a plethora of food trucks, usually spotted at one of the numerous breweries. Nosh modern mobile bistro has always endeavored to be as accommodating as possible.

Brock Houston, owner of Nosh, said they normally do not provide solely vegan options on their menu, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

“We make the dish that we want to make, and see where we can accommodate a couple of portions for the day, so when that person comes up, they are pleasantly surprised we have something to offer,” Houston said.

He added he has received calls from people asking for vegan options in advance, and he will do his best to provide an entree for those customers.

Houston also prefers to use fresh ingredients in his dishes and will keep his menu in coordination with the season. For the fall, he plans to incorporate traditional football food, like chicken wings and chili.

“Everything is made fresh, and everything’s made to order.”

Nosh’s menu has items on it like their loaded cauliflower and watermelon salad. One of their most popular dishes has been their Nosh Frites, shoestring skin on fries with truffle oil, Parmesan, parsley & black pepper, and their Firecracker shrimp, “lightly breaded shrimp, tossed in a sweet and spicy chili cream topped with scallion & furikaki.”

“There are few and far in between, but we always think of what can accommodate with on the truck,” Houston said.

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