Tesóaria winemaker John Olson may not be 100 percent vegan, but he’s 100 percent excited about plant-based food. “[It’s a] new flavor palate that got me excited about food again,” he explains. “I feel so much better when I’m not eating meat. But even in Portland, there’s nothing out there for vegans who enjoy a fine wine pairing with their meal.”
After bringing his own bottles to meals at Portland’s swankiest vegan joints—think Farm Spirit and Portobello—Olson decided to take matters into his own hands. Together with chef Max Germano, the ebullient winemaker developed an entirely plant-based, tapas-style menu for his N Williams Ave tasting room, complete with vegan wine pairings.
Offered from 5–9 p.m. each Thursday, the “Shut Up and Eat Your Vegetables” menu features vibrant takes on traditional vegetarian dishes. Dishes like samosas, salad rolls, and mezza boards—all of which could easily be dry and uninspired—instead burst with color and flavor, thanks to elements like (respectively) a zesty spiced tomato sauce, charred peanut and black garlic dip, and carrot top-pecan pesto. A tapenade platter groans with house-baked bread; Portobello sandwiches arrive loaded with meaty mushrooms and paired with the ironically named “Bulls Blood.”
Vegan Thursday joins a full slate of weekly events at Tesóaria, including free pizza Tuesday nights, “Hangry Hump Day” family-style dinners on Wednesday, and “Date Night” prix-fixe dinners on Fridays. An experimental four-course vegan brunch is planned for July 24. And let’s not forget the wine itself: the tasting room overflows with ribbons and trophies, proof that Tesóaria has won more than 100 awards in the first half of 2016 alone. With vino that good, who cares about dinner?
Vegan Takeover at Tesóaria
5–9 p.m. Thursdays
4003 N Williams Ave