Verdant's new menu puts a local spin on Chinese street food, adds tea-infused cocktails


When Verdant Tea opened its doors last year, it was clear that owners Lily and David Duckler were setting the bar high for themselves, offering an exhaustive list of quality teas and rotating house-made kombucha flavors.

Verdant recently set the bar even higher. When Birchwood Cafe closed for renovations in February, they teamed up with Verdant for a breakfast pop-up in the Seward tea shop, and for the past few months, the Ducklers have worked with Steven Swanson of Butcher & the Boar and Broders' Pasta Bar to create a breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu of Verdant's own. See also: Sweet Science Ice Cream and Verdant Tea: The tour

The menu Swanson created for Verdant was inspired by Chinese street food, but with a local and organic twist. Simeon Ross, co-founder of Loon Liquors, was recruited to create the drinks for Verdant's four-part cocktail menu. Verdant Tea's new menu was finally unveiled in early August. Hot Dish stopped in last Friday during happy hour for a first look.

We started our meal with the kombucha pub nosh, which comes with a pint of the kombucha of your choosing, potstickers, whiskey fried rice, and pan roasted chicken. Unfortunately, Verdant was already out of potstickers by the time we arrived, so we opted for the gravlax rice balls.

The pub nosh comes out in three courses, starting with the potstickers, or in our case, the gravlax rice balls -- three rice balls stuffed with gin and citrus cured salmon and rolled in sesame rice.

The whiskey fried rice landed next. This hearty dish made with brown rice, fried egg, and hoisin glazed bacon can also be ordered a la carte for $5.


The pan-fried chicken was our last course. Two cuts of Wild Acres young chicken come served with bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in a turnip puree that is so flavorful, we longed to lick the plate. At $15, the kombucha pub nosh is filling enough to be shared between two people. The meal is light and fresh, so you won't leave feeling stuffed.

Not looking to share? The $9 kitchen stir fry is a reasonably priced portion for one. This rice-centered dish comes prepared with scallions, long strips of ginger, garlic, tamari, seasonal vegetables, and your choice of marinated grilled tofu or chicken.

We ended our meal with one of Verdant's new signature cocktails, which range from $9-$12. The cocktails are divided into four separate categories -- mirrors, labyrinths, knife fights, and tigers -- all of which were inspired by Jorge Luis Borges, owner David Duckler's favorite author.

The cocktails in each category are arranged from lightest to strongest. We tried the High Noon from the knife fight category, an $11 cocktail prepared with Casa Noble Anejo tequila, Loon Liquor's Loonshine, gum syrup, lime, and Golden Fleece black tea.

Whether you're looking for a quality after-work happy hour, a casual dining spot, or a place to work on your senior thesis with help from a pint of house-made kombucha, Verdant Tea has you covered. The quaint neighborhood spot is quickly proving that it's capable of mastering more than one realm.

Verdant Tea's lunch and dinner menu is offered from noon to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to midnight Friday and Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. Breakfast is available every day from 9 a.m. to noon. Happy hour runs from 4 to 6 p.m. daily, during which time customers can choose from $3 and $5 appetizers, $1 iced teas, and $5 select mini cocktails.

Verdant Tea 2111 E. Franklin Ave. 612-223-8907

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