As I mentioned in my last post, David and I recently went to Charlotte, North Carolina on a business trip. For both of us, this was our first visit to North Carolina. When we weren’t working, we were able to scope out the vegan options.
Coming from a small town, the vegan fare in Charlotte was plentiful. Today I’m sharing our experience at Fern, Flavors from the Garden.
Fern is a vegetarian restaurant with lots of clearly marked vegan options. We got there ridiculously early for dinner, which meant that we had the place to ourselves for most of our visit.
The ambience was airy and natural with distressed shutters hanging on the walls, heavy wooden tables with wicker chairs, and a makeshift chandelier using mason jars. (Love that!)
There were ferns hanging on the wall. Even the silverware was curled like fern fronds.
While we were in North Carolina, I knew I wanted to try pimiento cheese somewhere. It’s a Southern specialty. And even though it’s typically a dairy-based dish, it was readily available in vegan form at various restaurants we visited.
Some people call pimiento cheese the caviar of the South. (As opposed to Texas caviar, which is made with black-eyed peas.) Pimiento cheese is typically made with cheese shreds, mayo, and pimientos (those peppers commonly stuffed in olives).
Fern’s version was made with Daiya shreds, pimientos, and piquillo peppers in a creamy base. On the side, slices of grilled ciabatta bread and apple slices drizzled with agave and fresh thyme. The crisp thinly sliced apple was actually my favorite part.
As a newbie to pimiento cheese, I was surprised that the cheese shreds stay whole and unblended in the dip. The cheese itself was fine, but I’d probably order a different appetizer next time around.
For my main dish, I ordered chili relleno. It’s a dish that I used to enjoy on occasion before I went vegan, and it’s not something I often see veganized.
The beer battered poblano pepper was stuffed with seitan chorizo and non-dairy jack cheese. It was topped with a chunky butternut squash and tofu chili drizzled with crema. This filling and hearty dish had a good hit of spiciness to it.
David ordered the pepperoni flatbread. They offer vegan cheese to go on top, but he prefers a cheeseless pie. It was topped with pomodoro sauce, thickly cut house made seitan pepperoni, mushrooms, and garlic.
It came with a choice of sides. He chose mac and cheese, which had a mild Daiya-based sauce.
Neither of us could finish even half of our generously sized entrees. So I recommend sharing or looking forward to leftovers.
Fern restaurant offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and the menu looks very inviting. (Vegan chick’n and waffles!) I wasn’t able to go this time around, but if I’m ever back in Charlotte, I’d love to hit it up.
If you’re ever in Charlotte and looking for airy, rustic ambience with elevated comfort food, Fern is worth seeking out.