By Betsy DiJulio
For vegans and those following a plant-based diet, breakfast out often means a couple of choices: avocado toast or an almond milk smoothie, as most mainstream establishments worth their salt at least offer a nut milk alternative. Venturing into other sections of the menu typically involves an endless refrain of “hold the _____” (bacon, sausage, cheese, hollandaise, etc.) and not even bothering to inquire about grits, French toast, and pancakes. The same is true of lunch sandwiches with all the yummy sounding cheeses and aioli off-limits.
But Session is not the same song different verse. Open for about a year and half in the Lynnhaven Colony Shoppes on Shore Drive, Session’s salads and sammies—which come with dressed greens or root vegetable chips ($1)—can be customized with vegan Just Egg, tempeh bacon, vegan cheddar, an addicting vegan gochujang aioli from the Veggie Banh Mi, or an herb citrus aioli from the The BB Flatbread ($13). Ordered as is, the salads are dressed with simple, drinkable-sounding vegan vinaigrettes like roasted garlic. Rounding out vegan options are Pumpkin French Toast ($15) and, from the selection of sides, a vegan parfait ($7).
Mouthwatering descriptions and clever names like the Hot Boi ($14) or The Fall Back ($12) make for a fun romp through the menu and a tough decision when it comes time to order. On my only visit so far—the first of many—I chose the naturally vegan Veggie Banh Mi ($11) and would order it again just based on the gochujang aioli alone, although there are so many additional offerings singing my name. Take for instance the Breakfast Fried Rice ($11), with Just Egg ($1.50). My tastes skew savory, rather than sweet, so this remix on a classic featuring brown rice, broccoli, carrot, both sweet and pickled onion, scallion, and my obsession, aka the gochujang aioli, hits all the right notes.
I like vegan meat substitutes just fine, but I typically don’t crave them like I do roasted mushrooms and pickled veg. In the Bahn Mi, both are layered into a sesame baguette with just the right amount of tender chewiness, along with thin jalapeño slices to get your attention and fresh cilantro for that unique herby freshness. But the high note for me was the schmear of duxelles (minced mushrooms typically sautéed with onion, shallots, garlic, and parsley)—where else can you find that locally?—and the creamy, just-spicy-enough gochujang aioli that should be sold as a body lotion. For my side, I ordered the greens: very fresh and very lightly dressed arugula in a brown Chinese take-out style box.
Because I couldn’t get there until late in the day and the restaurant closes at 3 p.m., I took my order to go. While photos of menu items online are beautifully staged and Instagrammable, I set up a picnic nearby and snapped a photo to share what a carefully packaged to-go order looks like: pretty colorful and appealing if you ask me. But if you decide to dine in—or in warm weather on their sweet patio out back—expect to be greeted with a breathable sunny space boasting a mid-mod vibe, lots of twining and vining green plants, and employees that seem just as content.
With fun-sounding smoothies ($7.50-$9), lively canned cocktails ($7-$8)—hard kombucha, anyone?—plus beer with names like Wapatoolie ($4-$8), wine and champagne by the bottle ($15-$30) or glass ($6-$11 ), and non-alcoholic beverages ($3-$5), there is no B-side at Session.
WANT TO GO? Session, www.sessionvb.com, 2973 Shore Drive, Suite 104, VA Beach, 757. 904.1492. Open 8 to 3 every day except Tuesdays.