Cleveland’s culinary culture is as diverse as the city itself, but you would be forgiven if “vegan” wasn’t the first style of cooking that jumped to mind when thinking of our fair town. After all, we made our name on mile-high corned beef sandwiches and super-star local chefs specializing in all of the different ways one can cook pork.
However, vegan dining is slowly but surely entering the mainstream, and the team at Pura Vida is showing what a talented kitchen can do with Northeast Ohio’s vegetables and fruits.
“The Vegan Club was created as a social event to introduce vegans to other vegans, or anyone to the vegan lifestyle,” explains Chef Scott Coffman, executive chef of Pura Vida. “It is a collaboration between Chef Brandt Evans [owner of Pura Vida], Katie Klonowski [general manager]and myself. We love the idea of creating an atmosphere filled with great vegan food, the chance to meet new people and allowing my culinary team to try new recipes.”
To be clear, Pura Vida is not just for vegans or vegetarians. The restaurant, perched on Public Square overlooking the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and taking its name from the Spanish for “pure life,” offers plenty for carnivores of every stripe. But Pura Vida stands out by also offering a vegan menu—appropriate for those strictest of vegetarians who shun not only meat but also eggs, dairy and other animal products.
And on the first Tuesday of every month Pura Vida’s Vegan Club offers a cutting-edge experience that showcases vegan cuisine tied to creative themes. The eclectic menu is evidence of Chef Coffman’s extensive exploration of vegan world cuisine and Chef/Owner Brandt Evans’s passion for innovation.
Vegan Club diners can expect a meal based on the freshest in-season produce, sourced directly from Ashtabula. “We plan the Vegan Club menu specifically on the delivery schedule provided by our farmer James Hamilton,” says Coffman.
At April’s Vegan Club gathering, guests shared a family-style meal accompanied by a vegan wine tasting presented by Sommelier Traci Ezzo of Vintage Wine Distributor. Ezzo educated this now “extended family” of vegan diners about how to determine if a wine is vegan.
Dinner began with gazpacho followed by large trays of vegan sushi wrapped in a tempura batter, Green Goddess pot stickers and more. As each artfully presented platter emerged from the kitchen, we didn’t know whether to first snap a photo or immediately consume the delicious offerings. It bordered on ceremonial to enjoy such a special vegan meal surrounded by like-minded foodies, sharing this culinary craft, and drinking exquisite wines while engaging in lively conversation.
Vegan Club dinners are usually priced at about $30 per person. Pay a visit to PuraVidaByBrandt.com/happenings for the Vegan Club calendar.