Raw Vegan Classics, Redefined: Dinner at Great Sage
June 24, 2012


There are a couple of raw dishes so ubiquitous and popular that they can rightly be called “classics.” These include, but are not limited to:

  • zucchini and tomato lasagna
  • kelp noodles with peanut (or almond butter) sauce
  • zucchini marinara
  • raw pizza
  • beet ravioli
  • raw nori rolls
  • raw mushroom “burgers”
  • raw brownies
  • raw cheesecake
  • raw apple pie

I’ve eaten and made every single one of these dishes, loved them, and had the good fortune to sample versions from other raw food cooks. The nice thing about this is that the dishes feel like “comfort food” to me; the downside is that one can start to take these meals for granted.

Last night, I had a belated celebratory dinner at Great Sage in Clarksville, MD. Great Sage (which I reviewed here) is my favorite local vegan dining destination by far. It’s elegant and fancy enough to fit special occasions, but it’s also down to earth and more reasonably priced than some of DC’s other fine dining spots for plant-based eaters (Restaurant Nora and Elizabeth’s Gone Raw). The menu is suitable for any kind of plant-based eater: there’s vegan comfort food a’plenty (the mac and cheese is a favorite), as well as bean and grain curries for the more whole foods oriented, and even some raw dishes for those of us, like me, who like both raw and cooked vegan grub.

I usually order the “California salad” (greens, guac, beets, cucumber, sprouts, portobello mushroom, and an amazing red pepper dressing) with something else. I’ve tried the summer rolls, the quinoa burger, the raw sushi, and the Mediterranean platter, to name a few. Last night, I started with the raw beet ravioli:


Beautifully presented and absolutely wonderful. I loved that an herby sunflower seed cheese was used instead of the usual cashew cheese: proof that small tweaks can really elevate a tried and true dish!

There was also a seaweed salad involved:


Bonus points for the inclusion of kelp noodles!

The real highlight, though, was raw blueberry cheesecake. This is a classic raw food dessert, and for a moment, I worried whether my reaction would be “had one, had ‘em all.” No way: this was one of the better raw cheesecakes I’ve ever had! The crust was deliciously sweet, the filling a perfect mix of sweet and tart. Moreover, it was light and a little fluffy: for a moment, I thought it might just have been blueberries, chia, and/or Irish moss! Turns out it is a cashew base, but they’ve clearly learned how to make it rich and creamy without making it feel like a brick of solidified coconut oil (which is pretty much what happened the first time I attempted such a recipe). Major thumbs up!


So glad I got to sample this. And look: three blueberries. One for each decade Smile

This meal was proof that even classic dishes can always be reinvented—sometimes with only the most subtle of changes. Big kudos to Great Sage for keeping the menu seasonal, fresh, and always inspiring! I’ll have to try these dishes out for myself soon.

On that note, I’ve been studying physics for about 11 hours today, as well as yesterday afternoon and all night Friday. My brain is too full of equations to say much more, but I’ll see you all back here tomorrow. Wish me luck on my early morning test; I dare one of you to say “may the force be with you” in the comments…


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  1. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  2. Gena- Thanks so much for this beautiful review, we were so happy to have you join us recently, great pictures as well! We, at Great Sage, are always excited to try out new and exciting RAW recipes and please stay tuned for some new additions to our summer menu that debuts on July 11th. Happy Birthday from all of us here at the restaurant and I hope to chat with you the next time you visit.

  3. So, I’m too late, really, but retrospective good luck, dear Gena! I worked 119 hours in the past fortnight, and 17 days in a row, and in the midst of my blurred-out-wobbly exhaustion, I thought of you and wondered how on earth you manage your schedule, what with blogging every day and school and yoga and exercise… you’re amazing. I can’t even remember my past few weeks clearly!

  4. Happy Belated Birthday to my gemini friend! Your dinner looks sooooo beautiful. I’m wishing you the most wonderful year!

  5. So glad you got to go to Great Sage again! I live only about 5 minutes away from the restaurant! I’ve actually only been there once- I seem to have a hard time getting friends to try it. But it is so so delicious 🙂

  6. i gave you a shout today in my recent post 😉 if you ever come to Pittsburgh, i have the restaurant for you! p.s. the vanilla ice cream cake was other worldly at eden (it was a cashew based ice cream)!

    good luck on the test…Q: What did Donald Duck say in his graduate physics class?
    A: Quark, quark, quark!

    /awful ;p

  7. Yum! Thanks for sharing, hope you enjoyed your birthday celebration! (I’m like you, I celebrate my birthday for weeks before and after and even my 1/2 birthday! 🙂 A few questions 1) Any chance you can get their recipes and post for the ravioli and blueberry cheesecake? Very intrigued by the sunflower cheese and I am heading to the blubbery capital of the world (New Jersey) soon so would love to turn the Garden State staple into a raw dessert masterpiece! Or if not can you make up a Great Sage-inspired version à la Gena? 🙂 2) What camera do you use to photograph? and 3) You mentioned this is your fave place in DC area, what are your top few restaurants for delicious vegan dining in NYC? Merci beaucoup, have a lovely day !

  8. The desserts especially look delicious…those are something even a non-vegan, non-raw person should be able to appreciate!

  9. That’s exactly what I said to my 28 yr old son, as he headed into finals earlier this spring, who just chalked it up to one more cheesy comment from his Mom……
    So, absolutely…..May the force be with you tomorrow & always, kiddo!

  10. That’s looks amazing. I love raw dessert, especially cheesecake. I’m glad you have at least a few good dining options in DC.

  11. Beautiful review! I love reading your perspectives on raw foodie culture and cuisine. I always learn something.

    Good luck on your test, Gena! Rooting for you.