The initial stir of interest when Vrai opened its doors in February of this year swirled around the fact that the new restaurant would be the first since Prohibition to break Lemoyne’s status as a dry town. But aside from a wide assortment of delicious and creative adult beverages finally flowing again in the borough, Vrai offers an impressively unique menu based on a commitment to organic and local ingredients as well as a culinary philosophy of serving fresh, nutritious and unprocessed food that is as free from chemicals and pesticides as possible as a way of “feeling and living better.”
“I’ve always had a passion for food and health,” explains owner and 30-year vegetarian Shelly Page. “…A couple of years ago, I decided to go to culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, which only uses organic food, mostly vegan cooking. It’s all about interaction between food and health. …I wanted to create a place where we can get back to that type of eating and also to move people toward a more plant-based diet – not that I want everyone to become vegetarians, but to incorporate more plants.”
With a full bar, authentic wood-fired pizza oven and ample dining space, Vrai’s atmosphere, as Page describes it, “has a little bit of a European flavor to it, casual, relaxed, neighborhood bistro-like.”
Executive Chef Douglas Shenk describes Vrai’s cuisine. “It’s an eclectic menu,” he says. “We do pastas and pizzas, but we are not strictly Italian. I like cultural foods, and I like bringing in bits of different cultures from around the world and then making them our own.”
Top 3 Must-Sample Appetizers
1. Sprouts: Wood-fired Brussels sprouts, hazelnuts, egg and lemon parsley cream.2. Flat-Breads: Date, jalapeño, artichoke and pandano or asparagus, pickled beets, feta and prosciutto.3. Wood-fired Asparagus with parmesan and chili oil.
Top 3 Must-Try Salads
1. Vrai Salad: Organic baby greens, roasted organic honey carrot, pickled corn, grilled corn, Lykens Valley Creamery cheddar, smoky carrot chips and orange tarragon vinaigrette.2. Romaine Salad: Romaine, oven-roasted tomatoes, soft-boiled farm egg, parmesan crisp and house Caesar dressing.3. Beet Salad: Roasted organic beets with goat cheese, pistachios and shallot vinaigrette.
Top 3 Must-Order Entrées
1. Scallops: Blackened diver scallops over a bed of sweet corn maque choux.2. BBQ Chicken Wood-fired Pizza: Roasted organic chicken, corn, Lykens Valley Creamery smoky cheddar, mozzarella, bacon, diced jalapeño, house-made Calicutts honey chipotle barbecue sauce.3. House-made Pappardelle with Sausage
Top Happy-Hour Must-Have
Alice Springs Cocktail: Bombay gin, fresh lemon and orange juice, bitters, splash of grenadine with seltzer topping.
Vrai (1015 Market Street, Lemoyne) is open Tuesday through Thursday 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Vrai will also soon be opening for lunch at 11 a.m. For more information, call (717) 412-0067 or visit vrairestaurant.com.