Vrai

Vrai in Lemoyne offers a pappardelle bolognese.

Stephanie Kalina-Metzger, For The Sentinel

If you haven’t visited Lemoyne in the past year, then you’re likely unaware that a new dining option is available in the small town.

And if you blink going by Vrai at 1015 Market St., you just might miss it.

The upscale eatery opened last February and is tucked into the corner of a small strip mall located across from the L.B. Smith Ford car dealership.

When my dining companion and I arrived last Wednesday evening, we stepped out of the cold into a warm atmosphere reminiscent of an informal European bistro. Wooden tables, mismatched china and placemats crafted from French dishtowels add to the casual atmosphere. Lighting is a mixture of industrial and elegant and ranges from green glass “chandeliers,” to track lighting and large glass spheres that illuminate the room with a soft glow.

Those who join their friends at the curved marble bar can watch cooks prepare pizza in the striking black-and-white tiled Mugnaini wood-burning oven that spans from floor to ceiling.

When presented with a menu listing at least a dozen-and-a-half creative cocktails, I decided on the Vrai cucumber lemon martini ($12). The light and refreshing drink was a well-balanced combination of vodka, St. Elderflower, Limoncello, fresh lemon and a splash of soda.

Indulging in an adult libation crafted by restaurant staff is a luxury that is relatively new to the Lemoyne area. About six years ago, the residents of the town voted on a measure to reverse their dry status, and Vrai decided to take advantage of the opportunity. It offer diners a “full-bar experience,” having acquired its liquor license from the now-closed Coakley’s in New Cumberland.

In keeping with its name, Vrai is “true” to clean eating, and the owners adhere to that mission with food that avoids hormones, pesticides, white sugar and white flour. Vegetables take up a bigger part of the plate, and vegetarian options are plentiful.

Starters include items like wood-fired brussels sprouts with hazelnuts, parsley and a lemon cream drizzle, as well as roasted beets with goat cheese, arugula, pistachios and Dukkah oil. Diners have a choice of three salads: romaine, kale and a house salad.

My companion and I chose to split the gluten-free Romaine salad ($10). The fresh, satisfying salad contained romaine, oven-roasted tomatoes, a wood-fired farm egg, a crunchy Parmesan crisp and Caesar dressing with just a hint of anchovy. Each of our salads was topped with an over-easy egg for an extra $2. A selection of hearty wheat bread, paired with olive oil from the Amalfi coast, was presented prior to the main course.

Additional menu items include grilled salmon, a wood-fired crab cake, vegetarian dishes like jackfruit tacos, quinoa burgers and a “vegan ala vodka” selection containing chickpea pasta, with vodka tomato cashew cheese sauce and mixed vegetables. Chick pea pasta is gluten free, non-GMO, soy free and has twice the protein, half the net carbs and four times the fiber of regular pasta.

Those interested in more casual fare can choose from a selection of pizzas and flatbreads with ingredients like vegetables, BBQ chicken or a “mushroom fromage blanc” containing wine-braised mushrooms, caramelized balsamic onion, fontina and Parmesan.

Pasta lovers can choose four different, fresh, in-house made pasta dishes like shrimp pesto primavera, “chicken a limon” and my companion’s choice—pappardelle with sausage (half order $12).

I decided on the crab cake, which was large, by most standards. Nicely seasoned and nestled amidst a mélange of vegetables like zucchini, peppers, potatoes and onions, it was served on a swirl of horseradish remoulade and made for a hearty, yet not overly heavy, meal.

My companion thoroughly enjoyed his pappardelle crafted in house with organic flour and topped with a fresh, bright-tasting homemade sauce, aged Parmesan and local pasture-raised sausage. He remarked on how light the dish was compared to others he’s had.

With 2017 practically in our rear-view mirror, it might be time to start considering resolutions, and part of that often includes re-evaluating what goes into our bodies and how we can take steps to improve our nutrition. What’s nice about having a fine dining option like Vrai is that the work is already done for us and all we need to do is enjoy.

Next Up: DaVinci Italian Eatery in Silver Spring Township.

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