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Hungry For More?

Erling Jensen's new bar; OC Vegan now at Whole Foods.

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Erling Jensen the Restaurant has a sleek new bar and bar menu to satisfy upscale-casual epicureans. With small plates ranging from $6 to $16, the restaurant has added a more relaxed style of dining to its repertoire. Erling Jensen and his wife/business partner Patti hope this will draw patrons looking for the distinctive Erling Jensen flavor without the length and price of a sit-down dinner.

Small plates include Mimolette cheese with brandied rabbit sausage and whole-grain mustard, crispy soy-braised Portobello mushrooms and white miso dipping sauce, D'Affinois cheese and smoked duck breast with kirsch-laced cherries, and a game burger, such as bison or buffalo, with the meat ground in-house.

In addition to the bar, which seats eight and is buffered from the front entrance by a new dining room, the Jensens have added a small side patio for cocktails in spring and summer. The patio has room for 25 standing, but Patti hopes to put out some small seating arrangements to make the space more intimate and comfortable.

Erling Jensen is still practicing its signature brand of gastronomy, preparing some of the most cosmopolitan cuisine in Memphis: seared La Belle Farm foie gras with brandy-laced cranberry tapioca; jumbo lump crabmeat with hollandaise and beluga caviar; Guadalupe mountain elk tenderloin with truffled wild mushroom gnocchi; and filet of buffalo tenderloin with lobster béarnaise.

Erling Jensen is open seven days a week from 5 to 10 p.m. They will not be taking reservations for the bar, but reservations are encouraged for the dining rooms.

Erling Jensen, 1044 S. Yates, 763-3060, ejensen.com

Vegans and locavores can both celebrate: Whole Foods is now stocking OC Vegan's pastries, including banana nut bread, carrot raisin bread, chocolate almond bread, and cinnamon buns with cream cheese icing. These delightful 5-ounce treats are made with organic flour, vegan butter, and organic cane sugar and run from $3 to $4 each.

You may recognize OC Vegan and co-owner Bastet Ankh Re from one of the many farmers markets around town. Ankh Re also was the vegan chef at Wild Oats before its transition to Whole Foods. Then with her godfather, she opened DéjàVu, offering a blend of vegan, vegetarian, and meat options, but soon decided to focus on vegan foods once more.

"After doing DéjàVu, I was like, 'You know what? I'm vegan and I want to offer them more. I've got to do this 100 percent vegan,'" Ankh Re says. "So my partner Nigel Simister and I started OC Vegan Food Distributors."

Now that their pastries are in Whole Foods, Ankh Re says they hope to add their savory vegan foods, such as a line of gourmet popcorn (Green Goddess, Fire Alarm, and Garlic Lovers), within the next six months. The popcorn has already been approved for sale at Smoothie King, in addition to OC Vegan's juices, like Jamaican ginger beer and Jamaican Sorrel, a hibiscus-spiced beverage.

For now, you can reserve catering or order prepackaged items in bulk on their website, ocveganfooddistributors.com. Vegan cookies and pastries also are there, as well as jerk veggie burgers, hummus, spinach dip, vegan macaroni and cheese, and meatless meatballs.

Most of these prepackaged items sell from $4.99 to $6.99 a pound and are sold in quantities of three pounds or more. The catering menu is more extensive, offering breakfast options, side items, sandwiches, and dinner entrées.

And starting February 1st, OC Vegan will be moving their operations from the DéjàVu kitchen to a new bake house on Park between Getwell and Highland.

"It's going to be a natural health and wellness center," Ankh Re says, "where you can buy herbs and get consultations for those who are interested in becoming vegetarian or vegan but are having a hard time."

ocveganfooddistributors.com

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