Meet me at the vegan beer hall and café
IN THE KITCHEN If you’re tired of having to repeatedly explain to people that no, even (most) pizza is not vegan, then I’ve got a place in Quincy for you. Rewild, billed as a vegan beer hall and café, serves terrific pizza with homemade plant-based cheeses that can happily satisfy even the most committed carnivore. But pizza isn’t the only thing on the menu that showcases how good nonanimal dishes can be. Thanks to chef Will Hernandez, who developed the menu with co-owners Marissa Hughes and Pat McAuley, Rewild serves totally delicious burgers, fantastic fries, and more. “I don’t feel like we’re serving a light version of anything, but more like artisanal dishes,” Hernandez said. According to the owners, the restaurant is an experiment aimed at making plant-based dining more accessible while giving vegans and their omnivorous friends a place to go for some craft beer and good food. “We’re recreating foods that are familiar, a little better for you, and definitely better for the planet,” McAuley said.
THE LOCALE Rewild is a casual, meandering space with a long bar, high tops, window seats, and a big open rear area with picnic tables and plenty of room for bands or musicians. The place is decidedly young, but not exclusively, and attracting a crowd on late weekend nights. It’s where Fuji used to be on Hancock Street, in the heart of downtown Quincy and the area’s ever-expanding restaurant row.
ON THE MENU Rewild is not a health food restaurant. It’s a bar where vegans can eat and their nonvegan friends can, too. The menu is small, and most dishes are aimed at satisfying a meat-centric omnivore without any pain. Most of the food is so nicely done, that it works. You can choose from among four pizzas, three burgers, a fried appetizer, a few sides, two tacos, and a couple salads which can also be ordered as wraps. In the morning, before service begins at 11 a.m., the place is also a coffee bar, with good espresso drinks and morning bagels.
The burgers here are great. The patty itself is the commercially available, high-tech Impossible Burger. The “meat” is made with proteins from wheat and potatoes, fat from coconut and soy, and flavored with a number of other processed ingredients. The burgers are so popular that they’re selling at both the White Castle and Umami Burger chains. Rewild has several versions with different toppings, and they all come with fantastic fries. The Muggle burger ($15) is served with pickled onions, greens, and an absolutely delicious house soy aioli, made with garlic, lemons, tofu, and safflower oil. A slam dunk.
I’d never had homemade vegan cheese, and didn’t know it could be so much better than the standard store-bought options. My loss. Hernandez and Hughes make terrific soy and cashew cheeses that combine with their long-rising dough to produce great pizzas. There are four types. The Margherita ($12) is just great. In fact, to me, it is tastier than the ubiquitous fresh mozzarella versions served almost everywhere. I wasn’t crazy about either taco; but know that the “pork belly” ($8) version is very filling, and the better “scallop” taco ($11) is not.
The greens ($11) salad is a tasty mix of quinoa, lettuces, curried chick peas, pickled beets, and marinated tofu cubes dressed with a (too mild) green tahini sauce. The hummus bowl ($12) is actually a wonderful watercress salad, with good hummus, cucumber, parsnip, sunflower seeds, and pickled beets with a bright olive oil dressing. The buffalo wings ($12) are hunks of braised cauliflower so traditionally dressed in buffalo spice that it doesn’t matter what the “meat” is; they’re a great bar munch. Try some.
Rewild, 1546 Hancock St., Quincy, www.eatrewild.com.