When I visited Dancing Dog Eatery & Juicery recently, it felt like my typical Sunday routine of going into a diner for a savory and filling meal. The dining room was experiencing a rush of guests, made even more apparent when I stepped into the kitchen where their orders were being filled. As with any morning rush, cooks were doing the usual dance back-and-forth between one piece of cooking hardware to the other. Orders were called out with a short and deliberate, but cordial tone. So, pretty much any typical restaurant during Sunday brunch.
I didn’t notice that the sausage wasn’t pork or that the melting butter on the biscuits wasn’t made of dairy; it all just looked so good. What surprised me was how typical looking this restaurant was, despite being solely vegan. By that, I mean I recognized all the ingredients and wanted to try them since they looked just like my usual indulgent Sunday breakfast. I got my B-roll footage of the brunch and then made my way out.
I went back to the restaurant as it was getting dark to interview head baker Anastasia Pennington-Flax. I don’t blame them for wanting to do some baking at this time. The restaurant was closed, it was a calm atmosphere, and they had the run of all the kitchen.
Watching Pennington-Flax create a tahini frosted cake made me think I could do it in my sleep. They were unassuming about it and their experience in baking was so obvious that it looked effortless. We chatted on a variety of topics as Pennington-Flax meticulously went though each step of the recipe. Between the stories and the recipe, I was on my toes just enough to get all the shots for the video. It was a treat to see someone with an effortless ability to talk about a passion (and how they found it) while actually doing it at the same time. That’s when I’d say you’ve found someone in their element.
Pennington-Flax explained how each non-traditional ingredient worked to form this cake; which they will admit is not necessarily healthier just because it’s vegan — it’s just vegan. The goal of Dancing Dog isn’t to make veganism a sort of penance to be a better person. It’s a bridge, that if someone is interested in organic food, the impact of food consumption on the environment, or simply curious, they can overcome the mystery of veganism by satisfying the same cravings traditional food can provide. It may not be for everyone, but Dancing Dog sure makes the idea much more approachable. I was especially convinced by watching Pennington-Flax make one of her classic vegan cakes. You can watch below.
Video by Steven Pratten.