Saturday, May 9, 2009

Great Eats at Great Sage

by Erin

Since drinking the Kool-Aid of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," I have not been eating that much meat, and when I do, I prefer it to be local and/or organic. (Don't get me wrong, I break my rules all the time, such as when I indulge my growing addiction to the Hilltop Carry-Out gyros.) Several of my friends (and Xani) are of the same mind and some have even gone vegetarian or mostly vegetarian. I met up with several of these girls (including Lauren, NYC friend extraordinaire) last weekend to celebrate our friend Lydia's birthday, and the birthday girl chose to have lunch at Great Sage in Clarksville, MD.

Great Sage is a vegetarian restaurant that uses organic produce and happily accommodates vegans as well. The space is open and sunny, and the staff was extremely friendly and accommodating. At the bar in the front of the restaurant, patrons on their laptops sipped coffee or munched on sandwiches.

We sat down and amongst our chit-chatting and catching up, we ordered the mango iced tea, a refreshing tea with a mild mango flavor. The menu had soups, salads, a few entrees, and a nice selection of appetizers. Many of the dishes had what I'll call "veg-meat," meaning usually soy-based products used to emulate meat in flavor and/or texture. I tried these fake meats in college when I would dine out with vegetarian friends (I'm talking about you, Jeff Fields!), and to be honest, that was enough for me. I prefer to eat either real meat, or no meat. Substitutions be gone!

Mango iced tea

For our appetizers, we ordered the Hummus Plate, served with carrots, celery, olives, and toasted naan bread, and Artichoke Spinach Crostini, an artichoke and spinach dip with parmesan and toasted crostini. Both appetizers were delicious and heavy enough to satisfy our hunger immediately, but not too heavy that we couldn't enjoy the rest of the meal. I especially liked the artichoke dip - it had lots of tartness in it and for a moment I wasn't sure what it was from, and then I took the cue from the garnish: a lemon slice! The lemon juice added brightness and cut right through the creamy cheesiness of the dish. Delish!

Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Crostini

Hummus with veggies and naan

For our mains, I ordered the Black Bean and Roasted Corn Quesadilla, with white cheddar and sour cream on the side. They gave me hot sauce on request (Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill brand - nice and spicy). It was a good quesadilla, a large portion, but not as great as the appetizers. The other girls got the Italian Pesto Panini, the Portabella Caesar Salad Wrap, and the Southwest Burger, and all got great reviews. Lauren's wrap came with amazingly tart and spicy pickles, and we were obnoxious and ordered a whole plate for the table!

Black bean and corn quesadilla

Southwest "Burger"

Italian Pesto Panino

Portobello Caesar Wrap with awesome pickle

The last course was dessert, and this was the biggest surprise of the meal because these desserts were KICK-ASS! First our waitress surprised the birthday girl with four very mini birthday cupcakes! It was a sweet surprise, and the cupcakes were excellent. The chocolate cake was moist and had a nice hint of salt, and the icing was not too sweet (it was a merigue buttercream so it was more butter than sugar) and there was a good proportion of icing to cake.


Next we got MORE dessert. As I've gotten older, I've noticed that I've been shying away from chocolate desserts and more often order fruit-based desserts, so my vote was for the fruit tart or fruit crisp, but I got outvoted. After heated debate, we ordered a molton chocolate cake dessert with vanilla ice cream on top (not on the menu, we got it special because the b-day girl knows a guy who knows a guy), and Sage's Famous Carrot Cake. I was hesitant about both. I never order carrot cake; I don't even think I had ever had it before since why would I want silly vegetables in my dessert??

The verdict? I was blown away by both desserts! The molton chocolate cake was rich and chocolatey, and the ice cream was a great accompaniment. (The waitress asked if we wanted dairy, soy, or rice-based ice cream - we went with dairy.)

The carrot cake, however, was RIDICULOUS. First, it was a gigantic portion. It was served ice cold, which normally I wouldn't like, but it totally worked. The cream cheese frosting was vegan so it did not have the same tanginess as traditional CC frosting, but it was still sweet and smooth. The cake was VERY dense (is that normal?) and there was a great cake-to-frosting ratio. Who knew vegan carrot cake would be so amazing??

What a meal! I was glad I was able to celebrate with Lydia and see Lauren and Sarah who were in town from NYC. Happy birthday, Lyd!


Happy organic/vegetarian/vegan eating,


  1. I'm totally with you that if I'm going to eat vegetarian I will do without the faux meat. There are just too many good veggie dishes and ingredients. And if I want meat, I'll eat meat.

    I'm also with you on the fruit desserts. I really love chocolate but after a big meal I find it very difficult to consume that much richness. Fruit desserts often have that nice acidity that balances the richness of a big meal.

  2. I have GOT to read that book! I am so with you on the fake meat. All those years I was veggie I could never eat it. Except seitan. Seitan is yummy. Even though I started eating meat again I do my best to eat ethically and only purchase meat raised that way. It is expensive, but this also means that I eat less of it and I really appreciate it when I do have it. (This is not to say that I don't occasionally enjoy the Pollo Campero or crispy pig ear! But all in moderation, yes?)

  3. I loved this restaurant when I went there.

  4. Oh my godoness, I adored this place. Had the quesadilla too! We had vegan nachos as well, so yummy. I wanna know where they get their mango tea. I loved that one too.

  5. " I prefer to eat either real meat, or no meat. Substitutions be gone!"

    Well said! I find meat substitutes to be very uncreative, considering what you can do with beans, grains, unusual veggies, etc. Also, I read up on soy products and thyroid disorders, alzheimers, etc., and got scared off of soy forever :/ Ditto margarine. *tinfoil hat* Hehe.


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