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Vegan ‘Butcher’ Garden Carver opens in Williamsburg

A vegan meatball sub at Brooklyn’s new ‘plant-based butcher’.
Photo: Evan Angelastro

When Parry Lee decided to cut animal products from his diet in 2017, the hardest thing to give up was the meatballs and sundae sauce he loved since college. “I lick the plate clean,” laughs Lee. “I was addicted.” To make matters worse, Lee couldn’t cook much at the time (“I could turn the stove on. That was enough”), and just five years ago There weren’t many meat-free products sold in stores during the period. Robust as it is today. So Lee and his fiancé, Olha Demchuk, set out to reverse-engineer his vegan versions of the foods they loved so much. “I had to learn quickly,” Lee says.

Ultimately, Lee and Demchuk perfected their own version of sundae sauce and plant-based balls, debuting a Taste of Sunday stand at the 2018 Vegandale Festival. control. Taste of Sunday was a hit, and its success made the couple realize they had a place in the growing market for meat-free meals.

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Now they’ve unveiled Garden Carver, a Williamsburg “plant-based butcher” that has exploded the allure of vegan sundae sauces into a full-blown brick-and-mortar business. What is it? The tofu blocks are not hanging from hooks. Instead, Garden Carver aims to be a neighborhood store. You can get breakfast sandwiches, ‘crushed’ veggie burgers, delicatessens, or to-go containers of orange ‘chicken’ with broccoli.

“Sundae Sauce” is the key to two Garden Carver recipes: Spicy Rigatoni and Old-Fashioned Meatball Palm Hero.

The recipe for Garden Carver’s meatballs is the same one Lee used when eating meat. “We really treat it as meat,” he explains. “Nothing special.”

Croissant with sausage, eggs and cheese – all vegan of course.

Lee hopes Garden Carver will provide doorstep dining for meat lovers.

Photo provider Evan Angelastro

The entire Garden Carver menu is not specifically vegan-friendly. Bolstered by the growth of plant-based meat substitutes, Lee is not just a carnivore, but a vegan version of pulled pork (made with portobello mushroom stems) and charcuterie with fig salumi and plant-based chevre. Seeking to recreate the allure of meat, Lee has no particular interest in the debate over highly scientific products and “real” ingredients. Whatever recipe comes closest to the original inspiration, Garden Carver uses it.

“We don’t want to be known as a vegan spot,” Lee says. “We just want to be known as a place that serves great food.”

In addition to his “meat” ball sub — made with Impossible fake Beef, Oat Milk, Just Eggs — Garden Carver serves coffee, pastries, and veggie breakfast sandwiches in the morning. Lee seeks out small local businesses to complement her branded offerings and make her restaurant a one-stop-shop. All animal replacements.

Is the name just a clever joke? Lee argues otherwise. “It makes sense to me,” he says. “We are chopping vegetables instead of animals.”

Olha Demchuk and Parry Lee.
Photo: Evan Angelastro

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