Eden offers flavor without losing any during the cooking process
The word "cooking" often is used interchangeably with "preparing food" -- but that's not necessarily accurate.
Much of the menu at Eden in Shadyside is "raw," or prepared without the sustained application of heat. In addition, most of it is vegan, which means that there's no meat or dairy involved, and gluten-free. Oh, and there's a strong emphasis on local produce, grown in Western Pennsylvania.
Yet, for all its self-imposed limitations, one thing Eden doesn't leave out is flavor. If you can get this much flavor out of mostly uncooked produce, you're doing something right.
"I suffer from lots of different allergies, and I've always been very health-conscious, which makes it hard for me to eat out," chef/co-owner Hilary Zozula says. "I know a lot of people who are struggling with that, who aren't sure if there are certain things in the food that they weren't told about. I just really wanted to have a place available where people could go and eat and not have to 'work it off' or feel weird about it. Just really honest, really pure food."
She grew up eating raw and vegan food in California, and has no formal training -- although there just aren't a lot of places where you can learn this style of cuisine. "Whenever you heat something above 115 degrees, it gradually loses its nutritional content," Zozula says. "Some things, like meat, you have to cook. But with fruits and vegetables, nuts and sprouts -- when cooked, they slowly lose the vitamins and minerals that they have. It's a little frustrating.
"It's completely different from cooking. It's about spices, mixing, dehydrating. It's definitely not your normal culinary experience."
Until recently, Eden was known as the Juice Box Cafe, which focused on sandwiches and freshly-squeezed juices. The juices remain.
Understated, unpretentious, under the stairs.
You have to walk down from street level to get to Eden, a cozy little semi-subterranean spot on Copeland Street in Shadyside -- one of the few places in Pittsburgh where you'll find storefronts stacked three-high atop one another, much more common in compact, densely populated East Coast cities like Boston.
The dining room is small, clean, uncluttered, with intriguingly odd local art on the walls. We sat at a table beneath an almost full-size, realistic portrait of a friendly bartender.
Service was fast and friendly, offering helpful explanations of unusual dishes without prompting. An unseen stereo played classic soul music at a comfortable volume.
It helps to set aside certain straight-up comparisons -- like whether "cashew cheese" tastes better or worse than real cheese -- and just accept that some things will taste different, and move on. In most cases at Eden, the new flavors are excellent, just a little unusual.
A good place to start is the three-course tasting meal ($15), which gives a small sample of each main dish and includes dessert. It's a nice way to sample the main items on the menu, without committing to any one thing, and they don't seem to mind if you split it between two people.
But if you're confident enough in your choices, the Beet Ravioli starter ($5) is a good way to begin. The "ravioli" are constructed from thin slices of candy cane beet -- named for its red-and-white-swirled coloration -- which is surprisingly mild and sweet. Inside, there's another surprise -- cashew cheese that's creamy and slightly sweet like a good ricotta. It's not grainy or mealy like some nut-based faux-cheeses. Lemon and basil round out the dish.
The Zucchini Pasta ($11) features noodles made from thin slices of zucchini, which can be a little tricky to work with -- but it was perfectly ripe, with none of the expected bitterness or sogginess. It's covered in a rich sun-dried tomato marinara and "nutty Parmesan cheese."
Some of the dishes appear to be named ironically, but this only tends to invite unfair comparisons with their cheesy and/or meaty counterparts. The Marinated Veg. Pizza ($12) in no way resembles pizza, for instance, but is delicious in its own right. Atop a crunchy dehydrated-vegetable crust, there's an artful arrangement of cashew cheese, paprika, sunflower seeds and sprouts. The Steak & Potatoes ($12.50) substitutes mushrooms for steak and cauliflower for potatoes, with a rich, salty, slightly overpowering miso gravy. Although it might have benefited from a lighter sauce, it's quite good -- as long as you're not expecting actual steak and potatoes.
Not everything at Eden is raw, and there are even a few options for carnivores.
The Mole ($12) is a hot dish, served with either tempeh or local free-range chicken. The mole itself is a dark, yet mild, tangy, soupy sauce, served with corn tortillas, fresh avocado and an orange slice on the side.
Desserts included a dairy-free Raspberry Lemon Cheese Cake ($6.50), which somehow approximated the taste and consistency (if not appearance) of cheesecake with cashews, walnuts, dates and vanilla sunflower seeds.Additional Information:
Cuisine: Casual, fresh, local, healthy food, emphasizing raw, vegan and/or gluten-free dishes. BYOB
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Mon., Wed.-Sat.; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday (brunch)
Entree Price Range: $9-$15.
Notes: Accepts all major credit cards; reservations accepted.
Location: 735 Copeland St., Shadyside
Details: 412-802-7070 or www.edenpitt.com
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alcoa results help stocks stanch 2-day slide
- Penguins: Crosby’s right wrist may need surgery
- Body of missing Washington County man found in field near his home
- WPIAL denies eligibility for 2
- Pirates place Marte on bereavement leave; Liriano to start Sunday
- Thursday’s scouting report: Pirates at Cardinals
- Two top corporations move HQs to Pittsburgh’s “dynamic marketplace”
- Pitt women’s top recruit Gibson of Seton-La Salle headed to junior college
- Taxpayers on the hook for $1M more for Consol Energy Center lease
- NHL notebook: Blackhawks lock up Kane, Toews with 8-year extensions
- Argentina reaches World Cup final after penalties