Local, seasonal creations for Spring
Last week, I accepted an invitation to dinner at 5Church from Sous Chef Hannah Weinstein. She has a new lineup of plant-based dishes, featuring new courses every evening. The dishes are all vegan and showcase in-season ingredients that are grown or foraged locally. To complement Chef Hannah’s dishes, Pastry Chef Michaela Moehring has created new forward-thinking vegan desserts.
I hadn’t dined at 5Church before, but I visit the kitchen weekly to collect veggie scraps to feed my rescued pigs and compost heaps. The space is formal-feeling but playful and cozy enough for a casual dinner and conversation with a friend. The staff was exceptionally welcoming, and noticeably committed to providing the best dining experience possible. I didn’t try any cocktails, but my dinner date really enjoyed the mint julep from the bar.
What I did do was absolutely smash all three of the plant-based courses featured on the menu that night.
First Course: Local beet and grapefruit salad with charred orange vinaigrette
Don’t sleep on this salad created by Chef/Partner Jamie Lynch. It was so perfectly balanced, I was caught off guard, in a great way. From the earthiness of the beets and the heat of the arugula, to the brightness of the grapefruit pieces and charred orange vinaigrette, the flavors and textures were a delight. I had the vegan version, but you can also have this served with goat cheese ranch if you prefer. I’m sure it’s incredible.
Main Course: Grilled tempeh and morel mushrooms over farro with green garlic and preserved lemon-sumac vinaigrette
Chef Hannah visited our table to let me know she had created the main course with me in mind. She and I are foraging buddies, and I knew immediately this early in Spring, it must have morels. Since I hadn’t had any yet this season, it was an extra special treat to find them prepared and plated so beautifully. The green garlic and preserved lemon sumac vinaigrette perfectly highlighted the savory umami of the morels. The tempeh was perfectly grilled, and the local farro was a nice, hearty foundation that tied together the whole local, sustainable theme of this phenomenal spring dish.
I was very impressed with this offering. It was seasonally aware, with a real sense of place and I could almost taste the intention Chef Hannah put into it.
Dessert: Hazelnut cream cake with dark chocolate
For dessert, I was served the most playfully-plated hazelnut cake by Pastry Chef Michaela. The cake itself was moist and decadent, something not easily achieved in vegan baking. The dark chocolate and hazelnut cream came together in both flavor and texture in ways I can’t describe without evoking orgasm, so uh….just go experience it for yourself when you get the chance.
Overall, I felt like the team at 5Church created an absolutely magical experience. If you’re looking for a plant-based dinner date, you can book your reservation here: http://5churchcharlotte.com/#reservations.