Fern’s new East Boulevard location opened last week and I already like it better than the Plaza Midwood original.
The all-vegetarian (and mostly vegan) restaurant opened on Central Avenue in 2011 and announced the move back in May of this year. Ultimately, it’s a downsize but the new space is dedicated solely to Fern. They shared the old location with parent company Something Classic, a catering operation and cafe that also moved out.
Read about the move here.
Major wins associated with the move to East Boulevard include: more parking, a spacious patio and bathrooms that don’t require a trek down a weird, never-ending hallway.
They’ve also got a new bar, a beautiful open kitchen concept and no indication that a train will basically come rumbling through the parking lot multiple times a day. I’ll miss the old living plant wall, though.
The menu remains largely unchanged with a few new additions and tearful goodbyes to old favorites.
The OM Burger, one of my personal favorites, is no more and has been replaced with a new black bean burger ($14) with jalapeno aioli, roasted corn pico and cilantro on a potato bun. I’m not mad at it.
Lunch and dinner prices range from a $6 soup starter to a $16 entrees. All brunch items are under $13 or under.
Fern is open Tuesday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
It’d be easy to get lost in Fern’s starters alone so pace yourself with one of these surefire hits and then move on to more sections.
The buffalo cauliflower ($10) is perfect. Instead of chicken, cauliflower florets are battered, fried and tossed in a not-too-spicy buffalo sauce. The slow, subtle burn is countered with a creamy vegan buttermilk dill dressing and crisp carrots and celery.
General Manager Susan Walley told me regulars threatened to boycott if they took this off the menu. I echo this sentiment.
For a lighter starter, go with the peanut glazed brussels sprouts ($10). They’re roasted, tossed in peanut sauce and finished with cilantro and lime.
If you’re with a non-vegan who insists vegan food is gross, definitely get the vegan pimento cheese ($10) and watch them change their mind. It is very convincing.
Fern isn’t the kind of vegetarian restaurant you’ll walk away from hungry so order your main accordingly.
Entree sizes are generous and the ingredients are hearty.
All of the salads could stand alone as a meal, especially if you add on a black bean patty, marinated tofu or avocado. The warm kale salad ($13) is one of my longtime favorites.
For lunch, my friend Jen went with the Laughing Buddha bowl ($15), a classic mix of black forbidden rice, tofu and vegetables in a mushroom leek broth.
I ventured away from my burger and salad safe zone to try the raw pesto pasta ($15) and I don’t regret it. Zucchini and carrot noodles are tossed in a nutty, aromatic walnut kale pesto and then topped with marinated tomatoes, cashew parmesan and microgreens.
They’ve also got fresh pressed juices, whole fruit smoothies and insanely good vegan desserts if you’re aiming for an end-to-end YOLO meal.
Brunch is a major draw at Fern and a must-visit if you’ve never been.
I used to live next door and went every single Sunday. There’s nothing I don’t like on the menu.
Popular brunch items include: vegan cinnamon rolls ($8) served hot in a cast iron skillet, vegan chicken and sweet potato waffles ($11) and biscuits and gravy ($13) that my meat-loving friend swears taste like the real deal.
Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. It’s a small restaurant with limited brunch hours so be prepared to wait as news spreads that they’re open again.
You’ll find the new Fern at 1419 East Boulevard. Although they’ve updated their address everywhere, Facebook’s map will still direct you to the old Central location for some reason.
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