Say hello to vegan comfort food, Kansas City.
Chef-owner Heidi Van Pelt-Belle is now serving meatless tacos, lasagna and chicken-fried steak at her new West Side restaurant, Fud (813 W. 17th St.).
"Making a food that you grew up on be healthy and vegan -- that's my heart," says Van Pelt-Belle, who runs the restaurant with her partner, Jerimiah Rozzo-Belle.
When Van Pelt-Belle moved back to Kansas City in 2005, there weren't a lot of options for raw or vegan food. So she started an underground dining club, hosting parties at different houses and setting up shop in the back of Bad Seed Farm's downtown market for four months. (See my colleague Carolyn Szczepanski's 2007 feature about the fight over Van Pelt-Belle's catering and cashew cheese company, Playfood).
Drinks are simple for now -- local mint tea, fruit juice and smoothies. You can also get a glass of sunny mylk, which is made from sunflower seeds and agave nectar. While Van Pelt-Belle hasn't ruled out trying to get a beer and wine license, she has no immediate plans to apply for one. In the future, she intends to offer wheatgrass shots, tonics, and kombucha tea.
Fud has already gained some passionate fans, including Emanuelle Carter. "This is like an oasis to me," Carter said one day at the restaurant. "It's a way of life."
The space is a warm mix of exposed brick and stripes of green and orange. Rozzo-Belle made the tables from reclaimed wood.
"I'm just glad that we get to raise our son [Vox] in an environment like this," says Rozzo-Belle.
Eventually, the couple hopes to expand service beyond dinner on Friday night.
"Everyone keeps asking for brunch, but Sunday is our day off right now," says Rozzo-Belle.