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April 05, 2005

Great Sage: Palate-ial Wisdom

Players: Ryan and moi

Act I: Sequential Serendipity

So, as usual, Ryan and I are shooting the breeze at work. Now, this happens mainly because I tend to wander into his office every so often to take a much-needed break from the rigors of R&D. Ryan, being the nice guy that he is, puts up with the distractions. Anyway, back to us taking pot-shots at the wind [Phrases just don't make much sense when re-worded, do they?]; I think it was during one of my afternoon constitutionals when we started talking about vegetarian restaurants, and Ryan happened to mention Great Sage. He's been wanting to go to it since someone he knows raves about it. I, being slow-witted (and dumb to boot) took a few moments to realize that he was talking about the same restaurant that's a stone's throw from my sister's place (well, if you were Hercules, had a real good sense of direction and didn't mind hitting the occasional car on Rte. 32).

I'm usually up for almost any vegetarian restaurant (and almost any good restaurant -- where the definition of good is dictated by the vagaries of my mind). So, we decide we need to go there, thus preemptively laying to rest the hardest phase of most dinners I am involved with: the always vexing "where to go" phase.

Piling improbablility upon improbability, it just so happened that Ryan was going to be coming back from a trip up north at around the same time I had to be at my sister's for my younger nephew's birthday party! Ping! Lightbulbs go off (or is it on?), angels sing and I use up all my karma from the pot o' coincidence in one swell foop.

Well, the day arrives, and just as the birthday party is getting over (and none too soon! Watching a bunch of 8 year olds run amuck is tiring, even if I'm not the one keeping them under control), Ryan calls saying he is minutes away from Great Sage. So I head on over, and we both arrive at just about the same time.

Act II: Applications 'a Alliteration

Now, Great Sage is located in a small shopping strip in Clarksville that also contains a Roots natural foods market and Nest!. This makes for a happy coincidence since the shopping strip is a fine destination for the health-conscious amongst us. BTW: Roots has the largest selection of Dagoba chocolate bars that I've ever seen. I unfortunately did not get a chance to find out if they carry Dagoba's Hot Chocolate mixes. But a second visit to Roots is certainly in order.

While pulling into the parking lot, I see Ryan, having just parked, walking towards the restaurant. Being the humanist that I am, I try to run him over; Being the clutz that I am, I miss. Oh well. The dinner was still on. So, I catch up with Ryan and we walk into the restaurant.

The first impression I had upon entering is that the good folks of Clarksville aren't much for eating dinner at 5pm. High tea, maybe, but not dinner. I could hear my footsteps echoing in the long silent empty corridors....maybe not, but the place was mostly empty.

The second impression I got was one of bright, bold, bemused (sorry, that's the closest I can get to "cheery" while trying to be alliterative), and did I mention bright? The actual space usage hasn't changed much from when the place used to be Donna's. It continues to have a very cafe-like atmosphere, which I like. Part of the space is enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass windows that brighten up the restaurant considerably. The rest of the space is decorated in brightly colored walls with large photographs of people from all over the world. I was happy with the decor; comfortable and cheery, it made me feel right at home.

Act III: Vegetarianism at Vork

The menu at Great Sage is small but well-crafted. First of all, the menu covers are made from something that resembles cork (possibly cork itself). Great Sage offers only organic beverages, including organic teas, coffees, wines and beer. Most importantly, it offers organic hot chocolate in the form of Dagoba Hot Chocolate (they, for some reason that escapes me, don't advertise this fact on their menu)! In addition to their bevragiation, the food items seems to range through a good breadth of vegetarian (and vegan) options, consistently showing a twist of innovative flair.

Both of us start by ordering our drinks. In keeping with our predelictions, I order the Dagoba Hot Chocolate and he orders an "Evening Green and White" tea. The drinks arrived handily: my hot chocolate was yummy and correct: they didn't offer to spoil the taste of the Dagoba by adding whipped cream on top. Ryan's arrived with an hourglass timer and instructions from our server (PJ) to let it seep for 3 minutes but not a second more. Meanwhile, we we perusing the menu to see what we wanted to eat. I was amazingly enough not too hungry since it was still barely 5:30 (and this should put paid to all those rumors about me wanting to eat lunch at 11 and dinner at 5), so I opted for splitting an hummus platter (chickpea hummus, roasted red pepper humus and edamame hummus with pita) with Ryan and an appetizer portion of the Santa Fe salad. Ryan ordered the special which was a seitan piccata with a quinoa pilaf and collard greens.

   

The hummus platter was good, though a little mellow. I had never had edamame hummus before and liked it. All three hummuses had a firmer consistency than I was used to, but Ryan assured me that whenever he made hummus at home (apparently a lot), it had about the same consistency. Just as we finished the hummus, our entrees arrived. My salads was a nice blend of black beans, avocados, corn and tofu along with a host of other veggies. It was nice and just the right size for me. Ryan's seitan dish looked appealing and the seitan was nicely done (apparently they made the seitan in-house for that dish). I had never had quinoa before and enjoyed its texture and taste. Ryan fell in love with the collard greens and could have done with some more of those. We ended up being quite happy with our food and drinks.

Of course, there were still desserts to be ordered. Neither of us, no matte how stuffed, was going to leave without having dessert. It turned out that we both decided to go with the "Hot Fudge Cake A La Mode", a dessert that was almost too chocolat-y. Mine was good but parts of it felt like they were slightly burnt, which detracted from the overall taste. Ryan didn't have the same problem and loved his.

Act IV: Customary Conclusion

All in all, both of us liked the place and the food. It's a good place to bring vegetarians (and vegans) or even the health-conscious/organic food-lovers. Too bad there aren't more places like this in the DC area.

Ratings

Great Sage Review
Service Friendly, informative and timely
Decor Comfortable with bold, bright colors
Food Interesting vegetarian fare