Wednesday, March 16, 2011


we've avoided scape for a couple of years now, though not for lack of interest.  for some reason, we rarely find ourselves in maryland plaza or on euclid ave.  again, though, it's not because we're averse to the area.  in a nutshell: we just don't roll deep enough to afford the many offerings found in this diverse neighborhood.  sure, we'd love to buy up half of design within reach, and we'd like nothing more than to snatch up every last one of the chihuly paintings from duane reed gallery, but this, faithful readers, is not how we roll.  to be clear, we aint complainin'; then again, maybe we are.  whaaa.  nevertheless, we can afford a dinner out every now and then, particularly when a generous friend offers to foot the bill.  on this night, said friend offered, so to scape we went.

central west end

as we imagined, scape is a very handsome restaurant.  like most fine dining establishments, scape sets the mood with dimmed, warm lighting.  scape is unique, though, because of its light sculpture in the center of the dining room.  designed by third degree glass factory, the glass sculpture is modern without being ironic, and it's not the least bit ostentatious.  there are other interesting light fixtures scattered throughout the dining room, each one resembling a de-crowned christmas ornament.  very cool.  apart from the lighting, the rest of the decor is fairly straightforward--neither noteworthy nor annoying.

from the minute we were greeted at the valet stand (you ever tried finding parking in the cwe on a friday night???  fuggitaboutit.) to the moment we returned to the valet stand, service was impeccable.  the hostess knew we were vegetarians and made a point of addressing us as "unique" diners; the server did everything she could to make us comfortable with our dinner selections, even offering a rather candid assessment of the carrot soup; and every other table assistant that approached us with water or bread or new flatware was friendly and professional.  to say the least, we were pampered on this night, which is exactly the type of service you should receive when you're dropping coin like this.  still, we've been to fine dining restaurants before where we were treated poorly, so we always take special note when service is exceptional. it was at scape.

as is our m.o., we kicked things off with something fried: in this case, it was the avocado egg rolls, which were served with a poblano-tamarind dipping sauce.  the closest thing in texture we could think of was a totino's pizza roll, which isn't necessarily a negative comparison.  all at the table had fond memories of these cheap treats, so we all shared in a bit of nostalgia as we devoured the avocado egg rolls.  of course, the ingredients of scape's rolls are of a much higher quality than that of totino's, so we took extra comfort in knowing that this food was more than worth our time.  our only quibble was with the dipping sauce, which lacked the kick we'd hoped for from the poblanos.  (note: later we find out via email that the fryer is not vegetarian-friendly.)

next up were the parmesan-truffle fries.  once we confirmed that they weren't fried in duck fat, there was no way we were going to pass these up.  in consistency, scape's fries resemble frites, and we wonder if it's just a typo on the menu.  regardless, these fries were delicious, even if the truffle presence was a bit too understated.  the portion was perfect, too, leaving us satisfied but not heavy with guilt.  for comparison's sake, these fries aren't as good as terrene's, but they're far better than, say, the bleeding deacon's.

at this point, we'd spoken with our head server and made her aware that we were writers of a vegetarian food blog.  without being prompted, she apparently shared this information with the chef, and he sent out two bowls of complimentary carrot soup.  initially, we passed up the soup because our server made it clear that it wasn't her favorite, and we just figured we'd save the dough.  in the end, though, we were thankful for the chef's generosity, and the soup was actually quite nice.  it's one of three vegetarian offerings on scape's "raw" menu, which is the menu that got us interested in scape to begin with.  the soup is blended with avocado and young thai coconut meat, and it's garnished with sesame seeds.  it is quite carroty, of course, which is the reason our server wasn't terribly fond of it, but we both love carrots and love juicing, and this cold soup was a nice middle ground.  to be sure, neither of us liked it well enough to finish more than half a bowl, but it was a nice dish that made us feel healthy.

following our server's recommendation, next up were the cucumber spring rolls.  these are also on the "raw" menu and come with a ginger-chile dipping sauce.  they're stuffed with a bunch of delicious raw vegetables and garnished with some fresh micro-greens.  the marinade is what really made the dish shine, though.  clark wasn't messing around, either, stuffing whole rolls into his too-eager mouth, little glutton that he is.  as with the avocado egg rolls, though, the lack of heat in the dipping sauce disappointed. (this inability to deliver heat is endemic in fine dining, by the way.  if you've ever seen gordon ramsay react to "spice," you get an idea of how much of the industry responds to peppers.  we wish more restaurants would subscribe to the anthony bourdain school of thought: if you're gonna promise heat, you better deliver.)

here's the thing, though: the lone caveat we offer for scape is that it is absurdly expensive.  as we've mentioned elsewhere, we understand that fine dining comes with a lofty price tag, but we also understand that most folks are reluctant to drop serious coin on what amounts to little in the way of sustenance.  for example, as delicious as their raw lasagna may be, there's simply not much food on the plate, and scape charges 26 dollars for this one dish.  to repeat: 26 dollars for this ONE dish.  for those who can afford it, by all means, go get some raw lasagna.

we commend scape for offering so many vegetarian options, and there's no doubt that we had a great time.  if we do end up going back, we'll just have to be ready to eat larabars for lunch for the next week.


vegetarian-friendly score:
Scape on Urbanspoon

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