Hot Dish: Crossroad's Vegan "Shellfish" Tower
Shellfish towers are one of the best ways to splurge. Getting one for a table at any of the top or new seafood restaurants in town is almost mandatory, especially when you want a bit of everything from the raw bar. But according to vegan chef Tal Ronnen, no one said there had to be actual seafood on a shellfish tower. So he created one centered around lobster mushrooms at his Melrose restaurant Crossroads. It's now available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through September, when lobster mushrooms fall out of season.
First, the lobster mushroom. It's named more for its bright orange color than its shape or taste, but there is a sort of earthy brininess to the flavor, which is what inspired Ronnen. In addition to the prized mushrooms, there's "calamari" made with hearts of palm; "oyster" shooters comprised of artichokes, kombu seaweed and poached shiitake mushrooms, which come with your choice of tequila or vodka; "clams casino" fashioned out of smoked shallots; plus vegan versions of oysters Rockefeller, crab Louie salad and smoked "lox." There's not one hint of actual seafood, meat, dairy or eggs, which will probably be obvious to omnivores, but those who don't eat shellfish or seafood won't miss it. Check out the special early in the evening: It's been selling out nightly.
8284 Melrose Ave.; 323-782-9245