By Kristen Hartke / June 9 / Washington Post

“The concept of the smackdown is simple: Unlike most such challenges, it’s really an exhibition, not a competition. Gray asked several prominent chefs, including José Andrés, Todd English and Carla Hall, to give him a meat-based recipe of theirs that he could convert into a vegan version, featuring one on the Equinox menu each month. The smackdown began in April with Spike Mendelsohn’s Prez Obama Burger, the most popular burger at his Good Stuff Eatery restaurants, which Mendelsohn says he thought would be a “fun challenge” for Gray. The original is laden with applewood bacon, Roquefort cheese and horseradish mayo, but Gray took on the challenge with gusto, using leek ash to simulate veining in a tofu-based “blue cheese” and creating a smoky “bacon” out of oven-dried royal trumpet mushrooms for his quinoa-black bean patty, calling it, cheekily, the FLOTUS Burger.”

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Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post

If you’re looking for memorable modern American cooking, I’d send you to a dozen other places around town. If you’re in search of a meatless meal with some pomp near the White House, allow me to introduce you to Equinox, where chef-owner Todd Gray is taking some cues from his (mostly) vegetarian wife and business partner and spreading the message that you don’t need fish, fowl or flesh to draw people to the table.

Introduced two summers ago, his vegan tasting menu is beautiful and bountiful, five courses for $65 and not a sinker in the bunch. Green garlic and celery root bisque gets its creaminess from almond milk, its prick from pickled fiddlehead ferns. Belgian endive entices with smoked walnuts and burnt maple vinaigrette. Twisty pasta tinted with red wine and fleshed out with mushrooms, Brussels sprout petals and gremolata brings dinner to a climax. (In a thoughtful gesture, the chef allows the “vegan curious” to order a dish or two from the tasting list.)

If I have a complaint, it’s only that black bean chili with walnuts plays the heavy when I’m eager to embrace the light after a winter that wouldn’t go away. Gray repeats the vegan theme for Sunday brunch, where patrons can catch him in action behind the tofu “scramble” station. All this is not to say carnivores will go away hungry; house-made tagliatelle with duck Bolognese and artichoke chips finds me finishing every strand of pasta.

Desserts are more artful than ever, too. Witness the banana napoleon, a round tower of pastry and roasted banana cream elevated with a side scoop of coconut-lime sorbet. My point is, the city could use a good (full-time) vegetarian restaurant, and Equinox tastes up for the challenge.


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Megan O. Steintrager, TODAY Food

If your Passover menu could use some freshening up but you don’t want to switch out the centerpiece, consider adding one of these bright salads from “The New Jewish Table” by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, of the restaurant Equinox in Washington, D.C. The quinoa with figs and mint and the roasted beets with capers and pistachios are both gorgeous additions to the main meal, while the mango, pineapple and pomegranate salad makes a perfect light dessert. Take chef Todd Gray’s advice and add a scoop of coconut sorbet to make it really special. All three recipes are parve, so you can serve them with a meat or dairy meal.

Simplify your Seder by doing as much prep ahead of time as you can: For example, Todd says you can cook the quinoa a day ahead (wait to add vinaigrette until 30 minutes before serving). The beets can be baked and the nuts toasted the day before serving, as well. You can also cut up all the fruit the day before serving (wait to add the liquid ingredients until 30 minutes before serving so the fruit doesn’t become mushy). Do what you can in advance, says the chef, so you can experience the evening alongside your family instead of cooking at the last minute — that’s particularly important for a participatory event like a Passover Seder.

View recipes (Quinoa Salad with Figs and Mint, Salad of Roasted Heirloom Beets with Capers and Pistachios, Mango Pineapple and Pomegranate Salad)


Adriana Janovich, The Spokesman-Review

“The New Jewish Table” offers contemporary takes on traditional Jewish dishes, some of which might be perfect for Passover.

The eight-day holiday commemorates the Jews’ escape from slavery in ancient Egypt and begins this year at sundown April 3. So this seems like a good time to revisit a few favorite recipes from the 2013 cookbook from the husband-and-wife team of Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray.

Their book shares their love story and blends their traditions. She’s Jewish and from the city; he’s a chef from an Episcopalian family in small-town Virginia. Recipes combine seasonal American and Eastern-European Jewish cuisine. Here are a few of them. (Matzo-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens, Fig & Port Wine Blintzes, Chocolate Hazelnut Rugelach)


Reviewed By Todd KlimanAnn LimpertAnna SpiegelCynthia Hacinli

Chef/owner Todd Gray, a fixture on Washington’s culinary scene for two decades, has seen many a trend. And while he’s no stranger to enthusiasms of the moment—rosemary gougères, truffled risotto fritters—he’s also a locavore committed to letting ingredients speak for themselves.

Gray’s culinary empire has grown to include the Salamander resort and Market Salamander in Middleburg, but he’s still a presence at this earth-toned flagship. He has a way with noodles: delicate egg-yolk pappardelle is swirled over a luxuriant Bolognese, and an agnolotti of ricotta and chestnuts is just as refined—and just as wonderful.

The sturdier fare is successful, too. Seafood bouillabaisse is anchored by a flavorful lobster-anise broth, and balsamic-glazed short ribs have a meatiness that comes only from slow cooking—in this case for 36 hours.

Don’t miss:

  • Vegan parsnip velouté
  • Truffled mac and cheese
  • Chestnut brandy semifreddo
  • Heirloom-carrot cake


By Tom Sietsema November 28, 2014

The big difference between Sunday brunch at Equinox and at many of the restaurant’s competitors is not immediately apparent. Like other sources of the weekend ritual, the downtown fixture owned by chef Todd Gray pours its share of bloody Marys, sets out a colorful buffet and even serves live music, most recently reggae. Closer inspection of the occasion reveals what’s missing from the meal: bacon and eggs. Read more >


Dreading the thought of cooking for Thanksgiving? Don’t sweat it. Just make your reservation and dine out at D.C.’s Equinox Restaurant! We got a preview of what they’ll have on the menu on Good Day DC. Watch video >


Skip the pig and indulge in white and black truffles instead at Chef Todd Gray’s luxe vegan brunch and vegan tasting.

Sumptuous vegetable-centric cuisine has long been an important part of the menu at Equinox Restaurant. But now, Chef Todd Gray is taking produce-driven dining to a new level by incorporating rare white and black truffles into the vegan brunch and vegan tasting menus.

Veg-curious and vegan guests can celebrate truffle season with such delicacies as Truffled Risotto Fritters with Garlic Chive Veganaise, Truffled Lentil ‘Cassoulet’ with Slow Cooked Beets, and Shaved Truffles atop a Tofu Scramble. Chef Gray has even created a silky rich White Truffle Vanilla Anglaise that can be spooned over muffins and pastries.

In the evening, truffles are being added to the vegan tasting menu—from truffle oil to freshly shaved truffles on select dishes.

The menus, which changes weekly, features fresh seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and an assortment of desserts created by pastry chef Eddy Teixeira.

“Now that the brunch has moved from the Corcoran to Equinox—and we have use of a full kitchen–we have an amazing opportunity to take vegetable-centric dining to a whole new level,” says Chef Gray.

“Truffles are only around for a short time, and so we are celebrating this amazing delicacy while we can by offering something very special for vegans and omnivores alike.”

A pioneer in regional, local, and seasonal cuisine, Chef Gray has been featuring plant-based dishes on the Equinox menu for 15 years and continues to find new and innovative ways to showcase the region’s bountiful produce.

Inspired by their own efforts to lead a healthier, more plant-based diet, Chef Gray and his wife Ellen Kassoff Gray began offering weekly vegan brunches at their Muse Café at the Corcoran three years ago. Beginning in July 2014, with the closing of the Corcoran, their beloved vegan Sunday brunch moved to Equinox Restaurant.

The vegan brunch is $30 for adults and $15 for children under 12. The truffle supplement is $20. The vegan tasting menu is $65; the truffle supplement is $25.

Equinox Restaurant is located at 818 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC. For more information, visit http://www.equinoxrestaurant.com 

View the full press release >


via The Washington Post – “Most restaurants don’t give children many choices: chicken fingers. Tater tots. Or bland, cheese-laden pizza, accompanied by a cup of limp fruit salad. And some parents are getting tired of it.” – Read more >


Via Brightest Young Things – “The menu offers plenty of savory options. Truffled calypso bean soup is a deliciously creamy way to kick of the meal, rich without being heavy, with truffle shaved table side and sprinkled on top. Toasted couscous salad with burgundy poached “forbidden apple” (quince), spiced pumpkin seeds and hazelnut vinaigrette, as well as a spinach and radicchio salad make up the first course. The truffled lentil cassoulet with golden beets and caramelized Brussels sprouts was a hearty, delicious dish.” – Read more >