If you’re old enough to remember dull carrot sticks and limp celery spears nestled up against a few scallions and sour cherry tomatoes, arrayed around a small ramekin of bottled ranch dressing, you are old enough to have developed an early disdain for what many people back then called “relish trays”—or, if they had read the French name somewhere, “crude-ites.” With today’s ever-growing interest in wellness and healthy eating, however, elevating veggies to much more than an afterthought is a challenge increasingly being taken up by chefs. Their creations are rivals in taste and presentation to, for example, the classic cured meats of a charcuterie board. Here are several excellent reasons to begin a meal far, far beyond Meatless Monday.
The NoMad Hotel, New York City
Menus at this luxury property are overseen by celeb chef Daniel Humm, and a complimentary, iced bowl of impeccable veggies—yes, crudites—is accompanied by a chive-cream dipping sauce. More memorable still is the carrot tartare, very fresh and with a kick of horseradish and radishes served in the French way: butter-dipped with fleur de sel.
Hotel Royal Garden Palace, Djerba Island, Tunisia
An island off the northeastern coast of Africa, Djerba is said to have been the inspiration for Homer’s Odyssey and is reached from the mainland on a road built by the Roman Empire. The beach is beautiful, and nearby there’s a historic ceramics village, but vegetables are also a draw at this seaside hotel. It offers a vast and inventive crudite buffet.
Loews Minneapolis, Minnesota
At Cosmos, a sleek New American restaurant, chefs partner with a local “vegan butcher shop,” The Herbivorious Butcher, to present local, dairy-free (nut-based) cheeses, vegan charcuterie (meat-free versions of ham and capicola), spiced nuts and house mostarda in the Vegan Charcuterie Board. The downtown hotel offers 12,000 sq. ft. of modern event space.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Washington, D.C.
The elevated spring crudites at Dirty Habit in this downtown landmark—located in the Capitol’s original General Post Office building—look like an outdoor garden, featuring Johnny Jump-up edible flowers alongside raw seasonal vegetables over a “dirt” bed of dried mushrooms, pine nuts and puffed rice. The kitchen plucks some of them from its own courtyard garden.