This Tuesday, Lily’s Bistro will be hosting an all vegan celebration in tribute to summer produce in Ohio.
It’s a rare food event in town that will work for people focused on different plant-based diets, and a great way for meat eaters to celebrate not only healthy and green dining, but Lily’s Bistro’s fifth anniversary.
The six-course menu looks inspired and interesting:
First course: Grilled peach with cashew "cheese" and hibiscus gastrique
Optional wine pairing: Pierre Sparr Cremant d'Alsace Reserve Brut
Second course: Roasted local vegetables from Patchwork Farms and Dayton Urban Grown with poached garlic puree and parsley pistou
Optional wine pairing: Cline Cellars Farmhouse White
Third course: Ohio sweet corn chowder
Optional wine pairing: Babich Unoaked New Zealand Chardonnay
Fourth course: Pea and mint hand rolled gnocchi with lemon "beurre blanc"
Optional wine pairing: Domaine du Salvard Cheverny
Fifth course: Lentil "meat-balls" with curried peanut sauce and crispy fried carrot straws
Optional wine pairing: Chilled Georges Deboeuf Beaujolais Gamay
Sixth course: Blueberry lime pie with candied lime peel
Optional wine pairing: Begonia red berry sangria
“In summer, we are able to source the most local items because of the abundance of summer produce. It’s also the time of the year where we see the most diversity of items. So we wanted to do a dinner that really spotlights produce at its peak of flavor, and it’s a counterpart to our whole hog dinner in June. We have a lot of vegetarian guests, and we wanted to do a dinner special for them,” said Emily Mendenhall, co-owner of Lily’s Bistro.
“Our executive chef Jansen Trotman was vegetarian for a lot of his life, and some of his family still primarily eat a vegetarian diet, including his son, Ivan, who is 12 years old and a very smart, engaged vegan. When the idea came up, Chef Jansen jumped at the opportunity to showcase what he could do with vegetables.”
The restaurant has done many special food events and dinners over the last five years, but this is the first completely produce-driven meal.
Mendenhall says customers have been excited about the upcoming event, which is expected to sell out. It’s a refreshing meal packed with summertime produce vibes that works for eaters from all walks of life — vegetarian, pescatarian, or omnivore.
An optional wine pairing can be added to the meal for $15 per person.
“Wine is inherently related to produce; from fresh fruits and citrus to bouquets of cut grass and vegetal notes. We’re going to start off with the grilled peach and hibiscus amuse that pairs with a sparkling Cremant that sets the fun tone, and end with a summertime favorite of our blueberry lime pie (tweaked to be vegan) with the cans of Begonia sangria that have been a staff favorite this season,” said Mendenhall.
One newer dish the restaurant has been serving featuring roasted locally grown vegetables with a fresh herb sauce, will be represented at the Very Veggie Feast with a poached garlic puree and parsley pistou, which is similar to a pesto without nuts.
“I think many people believe that a plant-based meal wouldn’t fill them up, or won’t have much diversity, but we know that doesn’t have to be the case. I think restaurants worry that customers won’t see the value. But responsibly sourced produce is more expensive than mass produced meat products, and most of our customers seem to understand that and see the value and share our vision in supporting local growers,” said Mendenhall.
With five years under her belt helming Lily’s, Mendenhall says she hopes that the next five years see more and more customers putting their support to independent businesses in their community rather than outside chains.
“We work hard to make guests feel invited in and at home, to have knowledgeable but not snooty staff, and to serve meals that can be both healthy and comforting. The team that executive chef Jansen Trotman and sous chef James McBride are leading is the strongest our kitchen has ever been. Also, the move to daily menus rather than seasonal menus has allowed us to dig deeper into what seasonal means in Dayton, Ohio, and it roots who we are,” said Mendenhall.
The Very Veggie Feast is the first of many special events the restaurant has planned through the end of the year.
“We’ll have the Garden Party event where we make pickles and shrubs and talk about preservation methods early September, then a Renaissance Feast late September, a ‘Camp Bourbon’ campout-themed bourbon tasting, a Halloween dinner, and a very special TBA immersive kind-of-nerdy dinner that I am incredibly excited about, but going to hold off on naming. Chef James Burton has helped to develop these dinners and is great at planning cool special events, and our bar manager Amber Brady is integral to these, too. We try to not take ourselves too seriously and bring a sort of unconventional and unique approach that fits with who Lily’s is,” said Mendenhall.
I’ve written about their events before and several of their special dinners have been some of my favorites. I’m excited about this event and the others happening through the end of the year. With five years under their belt it will be exciting to see what they do next.
HOW TO GO
What: Lily's Bistro Very Veggie Feast
When: Tuesday, Aug. 14
Cost: Advance reservations are required. Tickets can be purchased in advance online and at the restaurant with pricing fixed at $49 per person, which includes tax and tip. An optional wine pairing can be added for $15.
Where: 329 E. 5th St., Dayton