Do you recall a few weeks ago a rather long post about my ridiculously busy week? In that, I shared that we finally got to try out the newly vegan menu at WaterCourse for papa tummy’s birthday.
For the birthday dinner I had my first drink in a very long time. I ordered a glass of the Hugel Gentil white blend. It caught my attention being a blend of some of my favorite wine varieties. It was quite possibly the best glass of white wine I’ve ever had. Good choice on my part and a wonderful start to the meal.
Even though our familiar appetizer favorite of nachos made the cut to the new menu this was a night to try new things so we resisted the urge. Instead we munched on an order of the buffalo cauliflower wings while waiting for our main entrees to arrive. We have made an attempt to make our own cauliflower wings. While those were good, these were better. They aren’t heavy and greasy, making them the perfect appetizer without the sacrifice of flavor. You can also get the wings tossed in a Memphis BBQ sauce if buffalo isn’t your thing.
Papa tummy had a hard time deciding what he wanted to eat. In his defense, there are many great options to choose from. He finally chose the Green Chili Burger with a side of Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I knew exactly what I wanted though. I cheated a little and ordered something with gluten in it and some of it probably contained soy, as well. One night wasn’t going to make a difference. Besides, little tummy hasn’t shown any signs of having more digestion problems so I took this as an opportunity to introduce those things back into her system to see how she handled it. No sign of issues by the way. We might be out of that phase (still testing). Anyway, back to the food. I ordered the BBQ Plate which consisted of BBQ jack fruit, two sides of my choosing, and a couple of hush puppies. For the sides, I ordered the black-eyed pea cassoulet and collard greens. If you’re going to go Southern you might as well go all the way, right? Loved, loved, loved it ALL! Although, I had to box some of it up for a midnight snack to save room for dessert.
You can’t go to WaterCourse without ordering dessert. That’s a law, you will be fined by the vegan police. As far as I know, their desserts haven’t changed. I got one of my favorites to end the meal, the key lime pie. Excellent as usual. Tangy and refreshing. Light and satisfying.
As you may have figured out, the new menu is heavily emphasized on Southern comfort food. They’ve always been great in that department although I never considered them all the way in the comfort niche. One of my favorite dishes from the old menu was the chicken-fried seitan with mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. I KNOW they know how to rock the cuisine from my past. Southern comfort food is my weakness. If you didn’t already know I am from Texas after all. You can imagine my delight when I saw all the wonderful tastes from home that filled the menu. None of it was a disappointment. There’s not much else I can say.
Ever since the menu switch in April I wanted to know what sparked the change after years of the well-known restaurant being vegetarian. After our meal that night I tried to squeeze out an answer from one of the waitresses. The only answer she had for me was that it was the owner’s decision, Daniel Landes. If you don’t know Dan you probably should, especially if you’re in the vicinity of Denver. I didn’t know that much about him, other than he owns both WaterCourse and City, O’ City. Once I learnt his name, thanks to the waitress that kindly dropped it, I felt the need to ask him. Curiosity got the best of me. That one question I had, why vegan?, brought on more questions. I needed to do everything I could to contact this man to get answers. I reverted back to my days working at the school newspaper and went all journalistic.
After sending an email through the WaterCourse website and messaging them through their Facebook page, I decided that wasn’t enough. I needed to contact him directly. So like a professional stalker I went on a Google hunt. I found all sorts of articles about him, mostly from the Westword, dating all the way back to 1998. Glancing through these articles I found out another interesting fact about this man. He wrote a children’s chapter book, Joonie and The Great Harbinger Stampede. In case you didn’t already know, I am in the process of writing a children’s chapter book, very slowly. Finding that out was the icing on the cake. I just had to tell this guy what an inspiration he is.
I proceeded to invade his privacy by finding his personal Facebook account and sending him a direct message. I immediately regretted doing so. I had thoughts of him issuing a restraining order and banning me from the restaurant (oh how devastated I would be if that happened!). I figured he would ignore the crazy girl, hoping I would give up and move on. Instead, I had the inkling I should message him one last time. I know, now you’re thinking I’m crazy. That’s fine. My persistence paid off. He actually responded this time!!! I was ecstatic, like a giddy little school girl. I started jumping up and down making little tummy giggle at the sight of her mommy uncontrollably happy for the first time.
Daniel said he would answer my questions as soon as possible. I thanked him and waited patiently, knowing he is probably in high demand right now. Then, it happened. Yesterday he sent me a message with his answers. This is what he had to say, verbatim:
MT: What made you decide to change WaterCourse to an all vegan menu after so many years?
DL: WaterCourse has always been moving toward it’s mission to “eat the path of least resistance”. Eating a vegan diet embodies this statement. WaterCourse and our guests have been on a patient path of growth and refinement for the last 16 years. Going vegan was natural, a grand alignment for our times. There was simply no other option. WaterCourse has always been true to it’s passive nature. There is no other reason other than it was the right thing to do.
MT: How did you come up with the Southern-inspired comfort food menu?
DL: WaterCourse has always been a comfort food restaurant. We have never claimed to be anything other than a comfort food restaurant. Guests assume we may be many other things but the bottom line is WaterCourse is a vegan comfort food restaurant. We love this identity and needed to get back to it. We make vegan soul food, Southern, Mexican, Cuban it doesn’t matter. It just needs to feed you and your soul.
MT: Do you have any ideas for future menu changes?
DL: The menu will always change, but it will always be vegan and always be comfort food. Our Chef Melanie is bursting with love and creativity. She will change the world.
MT: What menu suggestion would you have for a someone who can’t have soy or gluten?
DL: Almost all our dishes can be made gluten free. We have a delicious, moist and hearty gluten free bread that we make at WaterCourse Bakery. Soy free is more difficult but we can always make the guest happy. They just need to let the server know and we’ll make something wonderful. It is important for our guests to know all our soy is organic.
MT: Do you plan to change City, O’ City to an all vegan menu as well?
DL: I have no plans to do that.
I had some follow-up questions, but I didn’t want to press my luck so I left it at this. I promised I wouldn’t bother him anymore. I am grateful that he took the time to answer these questions for my tiny unknown blog. That makes him my new favorite person.
I would like to say bravo, Daniel, on your continued success and gracing Denver with your genius. Thank you for giving me a little taste of home every time I’m at your restaurant. Thank you for setting an excellent vegan example and adding to the vegan movement in a tasty way. Thank you, Chef Melanie, for sharing your passion for vegan food and blowing our minds. Thank you for keeping food allergies in mind while creating your comfort-laced menu. Oh, and thank you for keeping the nachos on the menu.
In the Denver area?
WaterCourse is located at:
837 E. 17th Avenue, Denver CO 80218
MONDAY – FRIDAY 11am – 10pm
SATURDAY – SUNDAY 8am – 10pm
You can reach them at:
303 832 7313