The green falafel arrives as the star of the mezze plate. It has a crunchy crust that shelters the warm surprise from the tap of a fork, and it lays in a cushion of arugula and mint, partnered with the most succulent, red cherry tomatoes. Quinoa speckles the dish, making it look like there has just been a shower of super grains. When I break the crispy shell of the falafel, my fork slides straight through the pillowy, bright green interior, contrasting the muted brown of the crust. It is accompanied by a lightly charred and seeded flatbread, an innovative roll with a slight elasticity that almost counters the inevitable pull to expose the fluffy inside. A small piece creates an edible vehicle for the white bean hummus, baba ganoush, and marinated feta that bursts in your mouth with varying textures—bejeweled pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and pine nuts add a crunch unexpected for a flatbread.
For a minute, I forget that I am seated at tables extended out into the middle of Union St. with cars whizzing by, surrounded by white plank planter boxes still filled with bright spring flowers and strings of industrial fairy lights, creating a somewhat modern, rustic environment to enjoy the novel and unique plant-based creations. Wildseed strikes the perfect balance between innovation and recreation of vegan and vegetarian foods, a quality lost in many plant-based restaurants. The dishes don’t try too hard to emulate aspects of meat and dairy, yet they still honor the more traditional versions of the dish.
The Ensalada Andalusia, for example, has a generous amount of coconut bacon—a gentle nod at its pork cousin. The crispy, spiced shreds of coconut have the familiar smokiness of bacon, but the coconut lends a striking simultaneous sweetness and acidity, engaging my taste buds in a flavor I have never tasted before. The other more “standard” elements, such as the crisp, yet smooth butter lettuce and bold, salty Marcona almonds, complemented the meatless topping.
Bright green pistachio pesto cradled and coated every spiral and groove of fusilli. Though the pasta was slightly tougher than those made of wheat, it arrived in a pool of lush and creamy sauce that was worthy enough of being savored on its own. The richer version of fusilli al pesto was actually made from a peculiar blend of blue lake green beans, potato, basil, kale, and pistachio. It was a much silkier, lighter, and desirable version of pesto, lacking the oiliness pesto often has. Though a vegan pesto pasta is often made more similar to the original, this inventive comfort food was near perfect.
A donburi bowl was the perfect way to warm the stomach in the chilly San Francisco fog. Every color was represented in this dish, with a rainbow-like variety of marinated and cooked vegetables almost hiding the deep purple pile of super grains. The marinated mushrooms and pickled cucumbers had the perfect tang that soaked the super grains to become juicy pearls of tamari and ponzu. Meat wasn’t even something that was needed or desired. The creamy avocado—a quintessential bowl garnish—helped to cut some of the acidity. The kimchi, though quite underseasoned, provided an extra crunch and punchy heat to diversify the stronger, acidic marinades and dressings; it paired quite nicely with the creamy chard that the chefs had somehow cut the bitterness out of. The caramelized sweet potatoes were bright orange gems that begged to be devoured. It had the thinnest shell that protected such a soft yam—the roasted type that simply melted in your mouth—leaving you wanting more than the few cubes they provided.
Wildseed’s diverse array of vegan and vegetarian food is inclusive and can even be made gluten-free. They have perfected their plant-based menu for anyone to enjoy—even the meat lovers will surely find a dish that they can indulge in.
Photos by Amanda W.