This is DC Restaurant Week, and what better way to close out the week than with a delicious Sunday brunch at Todd Grayâ€™s Muse in the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Todd Gray, a well-known local chef, is co-owner and Executive Chef of Equinox Restaurant, and Culinary Director of Salamander Hotels and Resorts. Gray and his wife, Ellen Kassoff Gray, are also the authors of a cookbook, The New Jewish Table.
Ellen, a vegan, was the driving force behind the vegan brunch, which began as a regular brunch two years ago. Initially offered only one weekend each month, the Grays decided that the popularity of the monthly vegan brunch justified making the switch to every Sunday, beginning on Motherâ€™s Day last year.
Reaction to the switch to all-vegan was initially mixed, with some customers becoming upset when they realized that there was no sausage, bacon or eggs. But the faithful vegans and vegetarians who had been coming monthly were ecstatic to finally be able to enjoy brunch every week.
Vegetarians, and especially vegans, have often found brunch buffets to be prohibitively expensive and uninteresting because so much of the food is animal-based. While omnivores gloried in the wide array of choices, the vegetarian or vegan in the group typically only had a few selections. At the Muse vegan brunch, there are always two or three salads and two or three hot dishes, plus desserts, and often soup. Currently, the menu includes a kale salad, rice salad and citrus salad, black bean and walnut chili, tofu scramble, truffle macaroni with mushrooms, French toast, glazed root vegetables, and an assortment of pastries and sweets. All vegan, all healthy, and all delicious.
Although Todd Gray initially developed all the recipes, the kitchenâ€™s experienced cooks, none of whom are vegan, now collaborate with both Grays to veganize favorite recipes and create new offerings. The menu, which changes seasonally, emphasizes fresh, local ingredients, and includes very little processed food and almost no meat substitutes.
The brunch patrons include all age groups, from families with children to 20-something hipsters to couples in their 70s. Most are not vegan. Because of its proximity to the White House, tourists often stop by when they see the Muse sign. And well-known Washingtonians, including former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, have also been spotted enjoying the fare.
The Grays’ mission is to educate people about vegan cuisine, and they welcome everyone, especially the â€œvegan-curious,â€ trusting that once someone tastes the delicious, healthy food they offer, the perception of vegan food as boring or bland will be changed. So if youâ€™re curious and open to something deliciously different for Sunday brunch, or youâ€™re a brunch-starved vegetarian or vegan, give Muse a try.
Cocktails and wine are available, there is often live music, and brunch patrons receive discounted admission to the Corcoran. For more information, or to make reservations for the vegan brunch, visit http://toddgraysmuse.com.