This review reflects our experience from January 2016.
Ethos Vegan Kitchen is a casual restaurant located in Winter Park, Florida that recently celebrated its 8th anniversary. The 25-minute drive down I-4 is well worth it for the delicious, award-winning, reasonably priced food that they offer. The 100% vegan menu includes home-style fare for brunch (Saturday and Sunday mornings), lunch, and dinner with desserts and a selection of vegan wine and beer. The restaurant is a traditional table-service establishment. If you visited Ethos in the past at their original location, you will enjoy no longer having to order at the counter and wait for your food to be brought to you. The space is large and comfortable, with a bar, lounge area, tables and booths.
We have visited Ethos well over a dozen times during the past 7 years, and the menu selections and food quality continue to improve with each visit. On our last trip, we were able to enjoy both lunch and their recently expanded brunch menu.
For lunch, we had Hoe Cakes for an appetizer. I ordered the Blackened Tempeh for my entree, and Paul opted for his absolute favorite meal of all time, Ethos’ BBQ Chickun.
The Blackened Tempeh comes with basmati rice, collard greens, mango salsa, black beans, carrots and pepper. The tempeh itself is a large portion, marinated in spices and blackened in a skillet.
I found the rice to be just okay, it tasted more like white rice to me. The dish is plated with the tempeh as the crowning glory of a delicious pile of yum. The tempeh itself is crunchy on the outside, and wonderfully seasoned. The portion is quite generous. Underneath the tempeh are the beans, collards, and vegetables. The collards are my favorite part of this dish. If you enjoy the collards at Tusker House, you will love these as well. They are similar in texture, very melt-in-your-mouth. The flavors of the beans and mango salsa compliment each other well, and overall the dish is filling and delightful.
The BBQ Chickun plate consists of mashed potatoes, collards, and a piece of mock chicken, coated with house-made bbq sauce. The meal is served with a side of cole slaw. Paul noted that the bbq sauce is more sweet than spicy. He also enjoyed that the mashed potatoes were smooth (no lumps!), seasoned with salt and margarine. The collards are the same slow-cooked collards served with the Blackened Tempeh.
For dessert, we both opted for The Ethos Sundae, which includes soy-based frozen dessert, whipped topping, chocolate sauce, nuts, and a cherry. I have a nut allergy and they were happy to leave the nut topping off of my mine. The sundae is what you would picture enjoying in an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and a nice way to finish the meal.
A couple of days later, we returned for brunch. The brunch menu changed recently and has new, expanded offerings, one of which was French Toast. We had both not enjoyed French Toast in many, many years and were excited to order it.
The French Toast came with a choice of side, and we both opted for the vegan sausage, which came with two patties. We also each ordered an additional side. I chose a cup of oatmeal, and was offered agave or maple syrup to accompany it. Paul ordered home fries as his second side. We each also added fresh strawberries to our French Toast.
The French Toast itself consisted of two decent-sized pieces of bread, coated, pan-fried and dusted with powdered sugar. It did not disappoint. I am not sure how they managed it, but it tasted just like the French Toast I remember eating as a child, egg dip and all. It was hard to believe that it was vegan! The strawberries were fresh, sweet and delicious. The sausage patties were a little bit larger than a silver dollar, and were hearty tasting and not too greasy.
The texture of the oatmeal was great, but the flavor was very plain. It could have used some cinnamon, in my opinion. I did not add any sweetener to mine, and that may have been why it seemed so bland. The home fries were cooked in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. They were very tasty and the portion was generous. Ethos also served Fair-trade diner-style coffee, offering soy creamer on the side.
Overall, both meals were enjoyable and a nice little diversion from our time at the parks and resorts. Often, the hardest part about dining at Ethos is deciding what to order, and that was true for this visit as well.
Would we go back?
Yes, each and every time!
Tara & Paul