China Cola! Absolutely delicious & I even had two (I wasn't driving).
First order of food business: olives! Or, to be more precise, marinated castelvetrano olives with aged black garlic, chile, and mustard seeds. When there are olives on the menu you can be sure that they are in both of our minds, so we ordered these beauties without hesitation, even before having read any further on the menu than the second offering.
We thought that the black pieces were some kind of olive slivers and I tasted one first. While I knew immediately it wasn't an olive, I could not put my finger on precisely what it was. It turned out that was the aged black garlic: completely different, less potent, and significantly more enjoyable than a sliver of ordinary garlic. I'm not sure if you're actually supposed to eat it or if it's just there for flavor, but I liked it and ate every bit. VM, on the other hand, tasted it and passed; the texture was not for her. The olives themselves were divine and plentiful, although we did wonder why they don't offer an assortment instead of a plateful of one variety. Most excitingly, the pit bowls were a classy touch. We've eaten bowls full of olives at many swanky establishments over the years, and neither of us can recollect ever having been presented with a stone receptacle of any kind.
kennebec potato fries, served with grain mustard aioli. I misread the menu thinking that it was garlic aioli, and then waxed culinary, "expertly" deducting that the special secret ingredient was mustard seed. Considering my culinary expertise is pretty much limited to a scale of yum, you'll forgive me the misread and subsequent "epiphany" and just believe me when I tell you unequivocally, the aioli is addictive. The fries themselves are shoestring and lightly sprinkled with a mild-flavored, unidentified spice. The single disappointment in this dish was that there were so many undippable, minuscule fries and fry crumbs: noticeable within every order that was served around us. This certainly wouldn't prevent us from ordering this yummy side again, but it is curious.
Onto the sandwiches. Before you do the math, I'll just come right out and say that we couldn't decide and ultimately ordered more sandwiches than mouths at the table. We're not proud, and neither should you be when you are faced with too many choices of delicious, vegan grub. Oh, the horror.
creme anglaise because 1) it sounded so eggy and 2) I'd never seen or eaten it before-- vegan or non-- and it initially struck me as being a little gelatinous. Not only did it turn out to be smooth and creamy, but it too had a delightful and unexpected (I don't recall it being mentioned in the menu description) coconut flavoring. A successful end to a delicious meal.
After this incredible, vegan feast I can only lament that the solitary omission of the Sprig & Vine experience was the demonstration of a distinct personality. The visual and audible touches lend themselves to a warm and beautiful atmosphere, the food is outstanding, but there is an overall and glaring welcome deficiency. Both the host and hostess were faultlessly pleasant and efficient, but seemed only to be going through the motions. The two people in the kitchen who met our eyes as we were leaving barely cracked a smile, let alone offered an acknowledgment or shared a word. It takes immense effort, time, and money to start any business, let alone a restaurant (vegan, no less!), so we really wished that the charm and essence had presented in a manner equivalent to how the food and atmosphere shone. The lacking identity is simply the difference between Sprig & Vine being a terrific restaurant and an extraordinary one. Highly recommend.