The gluten-free and vegan options at funky St. Dames in Rainier Valley were worth the trip. I’m soul-ed.
No idea how I haven’t heard of this vegan-friendly place before, but I’m glad I did one more search on Google to introduce me to it. For lent, I gave up gluten which makes my diet quite impossible to deal with. Reviewing the menu, it fit my recent challenge effortlessly, but not the issue of transportation. Sooo, I brought my mom along for the ride to Rainier Valley.
This spot is like a hideaway on a main street—great for a romantic night with a secret honey. With under 12 tables, it seemed intimate and secluded, but when you encountered another couple it was a friendly one, with a little wink. It reminded me of a more sophisticated Cha Cha Lounge, with gothic accents and sexy music that made me wanna groove. My dates: James Brown, my sweet mother and some bomb diggity eats.
Fried Mushrooms ($6.75)
A welcomed take on the ubiquitous calamari appetizer, this piled-high plate of fried mushrooms started the meal off with a bang. I wasn’t sure what type of presentation would arrive, but it was rather elegant yet urban.
The juicy button mushrooms would qualify as poppers—perfectly sized for a mouth toss. Open wide Mama! Before I start pitching food at my mother’s face, I MUST discuss this vegan ranch business. Eff. I’m going to be that girl who brings dressing in her purse for “emergencies”. Growing up I was chubby and had to put ranch or ketchup on everything. Haven’t strayed far, apparently. The dipping sauce was thick and creamy with a punchy dill flavor. The chilled temperature paired nicely with the crispy, hot mushrooms. Opposing temperatures in a dish gets me hot. Ooohf. Cool down, Cat.
Black and White Bean Tacos ($12.25)
I went straight for the rice because, well, I’m Asian. My instinct was spot on. Even though I wouldn’t consider it “lime and jalapeno” flavored, it was warm and zesty—enough for me to finish each grain. The fried plantains that originally sat on top (now experiencing little man syndrome without its’ mound beneath) were…interesting. They weren’t greasy, which is what draws me to them normally, and they didn’t have much flavor. But Ma took care of the three bites for me and I was propelled to the taco portion. Weeeeee! It wasn’t necessary to double up on the tortillas with these guys because the contents weren’t going to leak through. The proteins were—you guessed it—black and white beans. The white beans were mashed for a creamy texture and the black ones were tossed in for good measure. There was a bright cabbage salad on top of the protein hodge-podge, which gave a bite to the tacos—literally and figuratively. There was great balance in this dish and provided enough for an ADD child to stay occupied.
It’s over. I don’t think I’ve ever had a ginger-flavored dessert better than this one. Gluten-free and vegan too? Done. This steamy ramekin came and all I wanted to do was stick my head over it and marinate in its aromatic fog. It was calming and unforgettable. Don’t worry though, Marms was preoccupied with the dessert she chose to even notice that I was getting intimate with mine. Each spoonful carried a giant candied walnut, crumb topping and a seasoned pear slice. Usually ginger desserts are on the tame side, but this one was all up in my face. Calling me toward it, like a seductive James Bond villain. Spicy and aggressive. Not your typical ginge, this one has a soul. Once all the solid elements were in mah belleh, I sipped the rest like a warm apple cider. I didn’t mind that it wasn’t set like a normal crisp because this was fiyah.
The service was flawless, the food was full of range and if you didn’t notice, there was barely a mention of it being vegan or gluten-free. See how easy and delicious healthier eating can be? Cardboard not in sight, haters. It’s aaaall gravy, baby. Stop making excuses and get to St. Dames already!
St. Dames | 4525 MLK Way S. | (206) 725-8879