Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
At the outset, the planned conversion of venerable Adams Morgan dive bar Asylum into a chef-driven barbecue joint last summer threatened to cost local vegans one of their best nosh spots. It didn’t turn out that way. In fact, the new incarnation proved just as friendly to the meatless set, if not more so. The smoked tofu sandwich, designed as the veg-head answer to pulled pork or barbecue chicken, is one of the menu’s standouts. And, according to chef Vinni Waide, the stuff absorbs even more smoke than the usual meats do. “We go through so much more of a process with the tofu than almost anything else that we serve,” says Waide. “It took us a while to figure out that we needed to slice it to give it more surface area to get the flavors in it. It’s proven to be really popular.” Waide’s menu is positively startling for even the most skeptical non-meat-eater. The smoked tofu sandwich comes with one of 12 sides, several of which are vegan and almost all of which are vegetarian. Even the baked sweet potato will satisfy the most discerning of meatless diners—if you forgo the vegetarian praline pecan honey butter, that is. The laundry list of meatless options goes on with fried pickles, meatless wings, faux-pulled pork egg rolls, and lightly crispy roasted jalapeno grit cakes with cheese that practically melt on your tongue. Waide is currently testing even more ideas for non-meat goodness at the weekend buffet brunch. “We’re doing a lot of things with grit cakes, including grit cake Benedicts, lots of stuff we can play with,” he says.