Fancy Radish has a lot of elements you might expect. Husband-and-wife chef-restaurateurs Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby are James Beard Award nominees. The restaurant is housed in a prime location, the art-deco-meets-new-millennium Apollo building on the buzzy H Street Northeast corridor. And it boasts a unique cocktail program rife with unexpected ingredients—from nori to black vinegar. One thing it doesn’t have? Meat, or any other animal products for that matter.
That’s no surprise, given that the duo behind the enterprise is at the forefront of the meatless movement, earning international acclaim for their two vegan restaurants in Philadelphia, Vedge and V Street. Fancy Radish is their first establishment in the District—and it’s an instant hit.
There’s an L.A. sensibility to the space, which feels like it has been stripped down to the bare essentials. Concrete and raw woods are brightened up with fairy lights and the glow of handblown glass fixtures. There’s a bar running along the western wall and an ample dining room abutting the open kitchen at the back. When service is in full swing, the whole place hops and pops with bold energy.
As is the style these days, the menu’s offerings are arranged from the littlest and lightest to the biggest and bulkiest. Servers recommend two to three dishes per person; though I found four was the right number for a hearty eater such as myself.
Of course, fancy radishes are a starter. Of course. A quartet of the roots arrives with various Asian accents—shiso, smoked soy and shishito. If you’re in the mood for more digging in the dirt, there are slabs of pink beets (which make you think for a moment you’ve been served toro sashimi) in pumpernickel “soil” and an eye-opening amount of horseradish grated on top. Funnily enough, the dish arrives with a steak knife.
Don’t miss the halved avocado: It’s rolled in fried rice noodle crispies and filled with pickled cauliflower yellowed with turmeric. The creation balances atop a rice cracker bowl that sits in a puddle of romesco sauce. However, it’s rutabaga mixed with nutritional yeast and miso, and aerated with a spin in the Vitamix blender, that really wows. Tear off a chunk of well-salted warm pretzel bread and plunge it into the fondue-ish dip for a flavorful beginning.
Midmenu options include golden-fried potatoes slathered with an assertively spicy aji amarillo sauce—not for the faint of heart. Find a counterpoint with the langos, a Hungarian disc of fried potato bread topped with a burst of summer corn and tomatoes, and a slather of sauerkraut remoulade. The triangular slices recall pizza frita in the best way possible.
The heftiest propositions are a pair of noodle dishes. Carbonara-vibed ramen has a velvety sensibility thanks to an almond, potato and miso “cream” sauce speckled with lots of freshly ground black pepper. Supersmoky carrot cubes sub in for the bacon. Want more carbs? A bowl of Chinese dan dan noodles features a tongue-tingling trio of Sichuan peppercorns, chili oil and peppers, plus a substantial amount of sesame and maitake mushrooms flush with umami notes. It’s hard not to inhale these deeply satiating savory strands with a prolonged slurp, so no judgments if you do.
When it comes to dessert, the team outdoes itself. A charming parfait features tart lemon custard topped with layers of sweet cream, tangy raspberry sauce and crumbled saltines offering just the right amount of salt. Golden crusted and sugar dusted, craggy doughnuts are stuffed with sour cherry jam, and complemented by rhubarb gazpacho and slightly nutty halva ice cream. Housemade scoops are a treat here, such as Creamsicle, which will whisk you back to your childhood.
Ultimately, Landau and Jacoby are creating boundary-pushing, plant-forward cuisine that will satisfy carnivores and omnivores as much as vegans. Who needs pork, butter and eggs when the food is this good?
600 H St. NE, 202.675.8341
PRICES Shared plates, $12-$14; entrees, $15-$18; desserts, $7-$11
HOURS Sun., Tue.-Thu. 5-10pm; Fri.-Sat. 5-11pm