Camel’s Crossing Serves Up Inventive Dishes Catered to Plant-Based Eaters 

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Lex Nelson

click to enlarge Camel's Crossing isn't short on ambiance.  - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • Camel's Crossing isn't short on ambiance.

Just stepping across the threshold of Camel’s Crossing, the upscale wine bar in the Hyde Park neighborhood, sets the tone for an evening of fine dining full of small surprises.

While low tables, booths upholstered in dark leather and candlelight are restaurant mainstays, the Crossing's accent wall papered in a bold, retro black, white and orange polka dot print isn’t, and neither is the size of the kitchen—just 99 square feet—where the gastronomic magic happens.

While each dish on the menu had its high points, the more creative combinations stole the show. One root vegetable loomed large—in one case, quite literally—in two standout plates: the caramelized carrot soup and whole roasted carrot steak.

The carrot soup, which had a creamy russet base daubed with homemade ginger marshmallow, was so sweet, every bite felt like skipping to dessert; and the combination of mint oil, sharp ginger and heavy notes of cinnamon evoked spooning up pumpkin pie.

In contrast, the "steak," a mammoth carrot the size of a stapler twined in leaves, set on a bed of Moroccan-spiced black lentils and tangy macadamia nut cheese, topped with portobello bacon and served on a wooden cutting board, was distinctly savory. The “bacon," made from portobello mushrooms, is rubbed with oil and herbs, prepared sous vide style and then smoked to give it an unbelievably jerky-like flavor and texture. It was the highlight of the dish, but every bite was an earthy, balanced, umami-packed experience.

click to enlarge The vegan carrot-steak entree looked and tasted fresh from the garden.  - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • The vegan carrot-steak entree looked and tasted fresh from the garden.

The magic doesn’t come cheap. A five-course prix fixe dinner (either for omnivores or plant-based eaters) runs $69 per person, and a la carte options can climb to $33.  However, considering Chef Christian Phernetton’s philosophy of creating dishes solely from 100 percent organic, sustainably produced, non-GMO ingredients (many of which are sourced from his biodynamic farm in Hammet), the price tag isn’t too bad.

For vegetarians and vegans, Camel’s Crossing is a must-try hotspot, as the menu leans heavily on plant-based dishes like the killer carrot steak, beet poke and hazelnut chocolate cake. Carnivores shouldn’t feel left out though, with plenty of regionally-sourced meat dishes like wagyu short ribs and a “whole beast” lamb cassoulet on offer as well.

Though it’s easy to get distracted by the food, “wine and dine” isn’t just a trite phrase at Camel’s Crossing, so pad the budget for the night accordingly. Local options are limited as the restaurant establishes itself, but Meriwether Cider Co., Colter’s Creek and Split Rail Winery offerings are available, and the bar staff promised more are on the way.

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