In early August 2016 we visited Equinox Restaurant, owned by Ellen and Chef Todd Gray, for Sunday brunch for the first time. I had been to Equinox before on an earlier trip to D.C. for a memorable dinner with a group of 10 friends and family members and had been looking forward to the brunch experience for awhile as the Sunday brunch is completely vegan and well renowned. Sacha Cohen, publicist for Equinox, and Ellen kindly answered a few of my questions below prior to our visit.
Crisp Tortilla tasters with Avocado from the kitchen
When was the vegan tasting menu introduced at Equinox?
It’s been on the menu for about three years.
Does the vegan tasting menu change over time or season?
Yes, all of our menus change with the seasons. We are always innovating and experimenting with ingredients and source the freshest produce, meats, and seafood from the region.
Are there any signature vegan dishes at Equinox?
Our “FLOTUS” burger made a big splash a couple of years ago and was even featured at an event on Capitol Hill. A version of it makes an appearance on the lunch menu from time-to-time. The tofu scramble station at our vegan brunch is a mainstay and very popular with our guests.
And of course, Artichokes “Alla Romana” with Italian Parsley and Red Pepper Aioli are a delicious way to start a meal at Equinox.
When was the vegan brunch introduced?
We originally launched the vegan brunch at the Corcoran, but when that closed, we brought the concept to the restaurant three years ago.
Did Equinox specialize in offering vegetarian dishes in the years prior to offering vegan dishes and if so what inspired the move to include vegan specific / plant based cuisine?
Our philosophy has evolved over the past 17 years. But since we opened our doors in 1999, we have always featured vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Now that vegan fare and plant-based cuisine is becoming more mainstream, it seems like we are on point with a trend but it’s actually been in our restaurant’s DNA since the beginning. We tend not to make things like vegan “crab cakes”– we like for crab cakes to be crab cakes and for veg-forward plant-based foods be exactly what they are — so we don’t generally mix the two.
What are Ellen and Todd Gray’s personal favorites among the vegan dishes at Equinox?
Right now, we’re really enjoying the Green Garlic Falafel with Pickled Candy Stripe Beets, Grilled Romaine, and Mint Yogurt as well as the Crispy Glazed Asparagus, Baby Corn and Cauliflower. Oh, and for dessert, our Tiramisu with Coffee Soaked Lady Fingers, Cashew Cream, and Vanilla Gelato is really good!
I enjoyed all aspects of the buffet but my favorite dish was the Tempura of Cauliflower and Squash Blossoms (above) with Chieftain Wild Rice, Cider Glazed, Toasted Coconut
I enjoyed a wholesome and varied plate with various options from the buffet and relaxed with a glass of Chardonnay before my toddler decided it was time to head out and go explore the park by the White House. My fellow brunch dining guests (my husband, one of his aunts as well as an old friend) remained at the table and I know they thoroughly enjoyed the Equinox brunch experience as well. Until next time Equinox!