BY NICOLE KIEFERT | PHOTO BY DAVID SZYMANSKI
Located on the East Side in what used to be Abu’s Jerusalem Restaurant — and what was most recently Jow Nai Fouquet — Celesta serves a self-proclaimed “otherworldly” variety of vegan dishes, all ready to wow vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike.
“I feel like people’s palates are shifting, and people are more open and see the environmental impact veganism has and the health
benefits [of the lifestyle],” Celesta’s owner and executive chef Melanie Manuel notes. “You can still have a really indulgent vegan meal and not miss anything.”
Vegetarian for 27 years and vegan for the last several, Manuel is very familiar with ways to craft creative and delicious vegan-friendly meals.
One such dish is the restaurant’s beet carpaccio, which is both vegan and gluten-free. The beets are slow-roasted, a process that Manuel says enhances the sweetness of the vegetable. They are then are topped with red onion, fresh dill and capers, and served with vegan almond ricotta.
“I just want to create an environment that’s really inviting and open to all kinds of eaters, and [show] that veganism isn’t an exclusive club, but a space where people can learn to love asparagus, beets — [even if] they never thought they would — if they’re prepared correctly,” she says.
Manuel adds that while she loves offering vegans a food haven, she’s incredibly proud when meat-eaters enjoy her meat-free meals.
“I think that’s every chef’s dream: To open people’s minds up to different foods,” she says.
1978 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 231-3030, celesta.restaurant MKE