I wrote last week about celebrating 11 years of marriage with David and our anniversary breakfast picnic. Today I’m following it up with our anniversary dinner at Rapid Creek Cidery just outside of Iowa City.
I came very close to cancelling our reservation to Rapid Creek Cidery, because I was having the hardest time pegging down if they could accommodate vegans and what sort of vegan offerings they’d have. The menu is posted online, but they don’t designate their vegan or veganizable options.
(I so wish more restaurants would make a notation on their menu, either with a V or a symbol, so that vegans could know at a glance without having to track down that kind of information. Plus, restaurants have a lot to gain as well by listing their vegan options.)
After sending multiple emails and contacting them through Instagram, the only answer I was getting was they could probably accommodate and to “ask your server.” On some nights I might not mind the gamble. However, as David and I are both vegan and it was a special occasion, I didn’t want the night to end with us going somewhere else because there wasn’t anything available.
Anyway, after a few days of trying, I finally got an answer that the tofu dishes could be prepared vegan along with a couple of toasts and a salad. Success!
Rapid Creek Cidery
I’m glad I pushed through the initial frustration, because once we got to the restaurant, it was absolutely lovely.
Rapid Creek Cidery just opened in May. They’re on the same property as Wilson’s Orchard, which I enjoy visiting in the fall – for apples or pumpkins.
Heading down the dusty drive towards Rapid Creek Cidery, it doesn’t feel like Iowa. It puts one to the mind of Napa Valley or Umbria.
The cidery is in a 10,000 square foot wooden barn with exposed beams and a big deck outside. (You can’t reserve a table on the deck area. That’s for walk ins and is first come, first served.) As it is a large open space, it was fairly loud on that Saturday night.
We were seated at a table for two in the middle of the restaurant, where busy servers buzzed past us. The restaurant was full of groups dining family-style. The menu is meant to be shared by picking several items from the line-up. So the long tables around us had a smorgasbord of plates with spoons for scooping onto individual plates.
When our server came to the table, we let him know that we’re vegan. He went through the menu and told us the things that he was sure could be prepared vegan, and he offered to go ask the chef on the items about which he was unsure.
To start, we had Sichuan peanuts served in a tiny cup. These spicy peanuts left a burning edge as they tickled the tongue, and they were a good appetizer for getting the palate buzzing.
There were two toast options that were vegan – butterbean hummus with mint, and avocado toast with chile, radish, and olive oil.
While I am much more of an avocado fan than a mint fan, I decided to go with the butterbean hummus anyway. I make avocado toast with some regularity, and so I wanted to get something that would be a little different from my usual.
For our main course, we had jalapeño roasted tofu with lentils, chard, and zucchini puree. It usually comes with burrata as well, but of course, we had them leave that off. The flavor was layered and blended nicely. Plus, it was a filling main course with two different plant proteins in the dish.
On the side, we had roasted cauliflower with Calabrian chiles. It’s usually topped with mornay sauce, which includes dairy, and so it was left off.
David and I had to laugh as a whole head of cauliflower was plopped in front of us with a knife stuck in it. I’d say that this was the only dish where I really noticed that some element had been removed. It felt like it was missing something. But the flavor was still quite nice, and as you can imagine, we had plenty left over!
The menu changes with the season. But if you’re going before that happens, here are some other items that can be prepared vegan: spring lettuce salad, za’atar tofu with burnt eggplant, and potato fries.
I’m looking forward to visiting Rapid Creek Cidery again in the future and seeing what other vegan options they might have as their menu changes. It’s a great special occasion kind of place, where you can feel comfortable dressing up, but there were also plenty of people there in shorts as well.