Given the name, it’s totally okay if you pictured The Gadarene Swine’s menu with a whole lot of pork.
But, in fact, chef Phillip Frankland Lee’s new Studio City restaurant is completely meat free and the latest addition to Los Angeles’ blossoming vegan fine-dining scene that includes Crossroads in West Hollywood and M.A.K.E. in Santa Monica.
The name actually refers to a philosophical theory, known as the Gadarene Swine Fallacy, which posits that just because everyone is on the same path, it is not necessarily is the right one. “The stereotype may be that super healthy will taste like grass, while fine dining food will put you into a food coma,” says Lee, an omnivore who’s known for his Wolf Cuisine catering business and Scratch Bar in Beverly Hills. “Satiation is one thing, but pain is another. And after a twelve-course meal at The Gadarene Swine you should feel up to going out and dancing, not sleeping.” (Or at least be able to make your 6:30 a.m. spin class.)
Lee hopes his new venture will bridge the gap between health food and fine dining. To that end there are no nut-based dishes or imitation meats and cheeses on the menu, but rather a highly creative, exciting approach to fruits and vegetables that allows the produce to shine.
“The idea is to introduce the vegan and plant-based diet community to a restaurant that is not just a ‘vegan’ restaurant,” he explains. Using simple yet elevated ingredients, Lee’s tasting menu, available at the Chef’s Counter, features dishes on a theme such Crispy Eggplant Skin with Eggplant Puree, Roasted Diced Eggplant, Pickled Eggplant, while the a la carte offerings include Blackened Cauliflower, a Shaved Vegetable Salad and Roasted Mushrooms with Burnt Sweet Potato.
“I’m from LA, so I think I probably take for granted the produce we have here,” says Lee. “It really didn’t play a role in wanting to open a vegetable-only restaurant. But then again, if I were born and raised and living in Minneapolis, I probably wouldn’t be cooking this way.” —Rachel Marlowe
For more information, visit www.thegadareneswine.com