Meatless Monday: The Crest Gastropub

Anthony Dominic, Crave

Put simply, I'm drawn to The Crest because I'm consistently surprised by the food. Guacamole is made with beets, jalapeno and pomegranate seeds. Grilled cheese boasts Gruyere, fig and honey. Most of all, executive chef Dustin Brafford's background in Lebanese cuisine shines across the menu, even in the sides, salads and sauces. It's a reminder the little things count and can even define your restaurant.

I recently stopped in craving a burger (any of which can be made veggie or vegan at no upcharge), and instead my eyes stuck to the Falafel Sandwich ($8), which proved to be a flavorful and filling alternative. Fat, deep-fried falafels are tucked inside a whole-grain pita with tomato, parsley, a pasty lemon tahini sauce and house-made hummus that, together, create a sweet, caramelized flavor. A second, smaller pita with cucumber and mint is served nestled beneath the first. (The mint is sharp and snapped me out of my borderline-comatose state after scarfing down the first pita.)

I found myself dipping the cucumber pita in the zesty chili and garlic aioli served with my Sweet Potato Fries (50 cents when ordered with the sandwich). It's sweet and tangy, reminiscent of a spicy Asian mayo. Side sauces are often afterthoughts, but the aioli is perhaps what I remember most about my meal. Chili, truffle fries and mac and cheese are among the other side options, for a small upcharge.

I'd like to try the sandwich again in a month, when it's packed with even fresher peak-season veggies from the gastropub's rooftop garden.