(US-md) A Wise Choice for Vegetarian Tastes
- Great Sage may not be exactly what Benjamin Franklin was looking for,
but he would have enjoyed its chutzpah. After all, the menu promises
not only health and well-being (if not exactly wealth) but wisdom. And
not a word about an early curfew!
Eating wisely inarguably has benefits, although sagacity -- punny or
not -- has yet to be demonstrated. Nevertheless, there are plenty of
good reasons to give an overindulged system a break with a meal at
Clarksville's popular vegetarian cafe, and the hot fudge lava cake is
only a minor one. The Indian vegetable cakes, on the other hand, are a
Despite being hemmed into a shopping center shoebox, Great Sage is
quite attractive -- striking and restrained at the same time. The room
is L shaped, with a small bar and stools in the small arm near the
entrance and a long, straight room alongside the kitchen. The ceiling
and ducts are exposed warehouse-fashion; the walls are painted in
spice-market paprika, saffron, turmeric and lime (the restrooms are
spinach green); and the bold colors are ideal backgrounds to a series
of full-color photographs, blown up to poster size, of indigenous
tribes in India, China and Nepal.
The entire menu is organic, and nearly all of the dishes are vegan or
can be served in vegan fashion. Vegetarians (who consume dairy
products and eggs) can have dairy cheese or sour cream rather than soy
products, and so on. Several dishes are gluten free (optional), and
some are even soy free (also optional). Even the wines, beers and
drinks are organic, which is not nearly as restrictive or as mediocre
as skeptics might imagine: Lolonis Ladybug Red Old Vines is a favorite
from way back.
In fact, Great Sage is part of a family of succinctly named organic
businesses in the Clarksville Square Shopping Center, including a pet
store (Bark!), a health food store (Roots) and a clothing and home
accessories store (Nest), all of which except the cafe will soon be
replicated in Olney.
Salt is intentionally scant in this kitchen, which makes the diet more
accessible to restricted diets, and generally easy to adjust at the
table: The Thai vegetable saute, a generous portion and crisp-tender
and topped with crisped tofu triangles, was betrayed by a too-bland
coconut-peanut curry sauce, but the slightest sprinkle of salt
restored the balance. (A little more heat would have suited the name
better as well.) Likewise, carrot-ginger-almond bisque was a pinch
short, although a bit of citrus -- grated lemon peel, perhaps -- would
have cut the nut even more piquantly.
The staff is quite nice, procuring extra crostini with the spread
samplers and often playing Solomon to mixed-diet tables that can't
decide between, say, the hummus and goat cheese with the roasted
veggies, by bringing both. The only downside is that the combinations
can be a bit predictable for a fairly limited menu. If I could mix and
match dishes, I'd top those baked tofu triangles with the coconut
spinach. If Ben could see me now.
Great Sage 5809 Clarksville Square Dr., Clarksville 443-535-9400
Kitchen hours: Open Tuesday-Thursday 11:30-9; Friday and Saturday
11:30-9:30; Sunday 11-9 Prices: Appetizers $3.50-$7.99; entrees
$11.99-$16.99 Wheelchair access: Good
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