Berkeley restaurants

Meatless with a Mission: Sanctuary Bistro in Piper Glen

Opening of the Sanctuary Bistro in February 2020. In August, only one customer snuck out after looking at the vegan and gluten-free menu.

Fifteen years ago, executive chef Barry Horton might have made a pair. He grew up in small-town Kansas, in a family of avid “meat and potato” hunters, unlike his wife and business partner, Jennifer, whose love of animals and distaste for factory farming stopped eating meat as a teenager. Barry ate and drank ad libitum and did other things he preferred not to talk about.

King Trumpet scallops (above) are served in a white wine broth. Jackfruit tenderloin (below) is a flaky jackfruit “fish” served with sweet and spicy Brussels sprouts.

Charlotte, NC August 5, 2022: Jennifer Jones Horton Executive Chef Barry Horton Dishes:

In 2008, at age 30, he sat down at a bar and had his last cigarette, drink and bacon cheeseburger. “I was the typical late-night chef, going out after work and all the debauchery,” Barry says. “I got caught up in too many problems and I knew I had to clean myself up.”

Five years later, with two young children and seed money from an angel investor and a Kickstarter campaign, the Hortons realized a lifelong dream that combined their love of vegan cooking with their craving, as Jennifer puts it. , to “do the right thing for the world”. “It was a casual, vegan fine-dining restaurant in Berkeley, California that they named Sanctuary Bistro.

Sanctuary was a hit in a city that celebrates an approach to food and life that matched that of its owners. VegNews the magazine named Sanctuary Best Restaurant for three consecutive years. But could the concept work in the Carolinas?

Charlotte, NC August 5, 2022: Jennifer Jones Horton Executive Chef Barry Horton Dishes:

The charcuterie platter (above) is a mix of smoked cheddar cheese, lemon-pepper cashew goat cheese, and black-eyed pea sausage.

As their family grew, the Hortons decided to move closer to Jennifer’s parents in Beaufort, South Carolina. They chose Charlotte because it was an established city with a large international airport. They also assumed it would be cheaper than Berkeley. They quickly found out not.

After some initial panic, the Hortons rented space at The Shops in Piper Glen on Rea Road – where the cost is at least comparable to Berkeley – and opened with a staff of seven. They were busy right away. But five weeks later: COVID. They survived the first year on take-out orders. As restrictions eased, Sanctuary began hosting private dinner parties where couples could grab a six-course meal for $260. From the summer, operations resumed their normal course.

The menu is entirely vegan, gluten-free and organic. Barry Horton earned his culinary degree from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu program at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, which emphasizes French dishes high in meat and animal fats. He reconciles the two by using ingredients like soybeans, tofu, mushrooms and nuts, which in the right hands can mimic the richness and texture of the dishes he learned to make in school.

Charlotte, NC August 5, 2022: Jennifer Jones Horton Executive Chef Barry Horton Dishes:

Desserts include creme brulee and cashew cheesecake.

For example, the charcuterie plate includes smoked cashew cheddar, lemon pepper cashew goat cheese, and black-eyed pea sausage. For the King Trumpet scallops, he substitutes pan-fried trumpet mushrooms for scallops; jackfruit fillet is a flaky jackfruit “fish” served with sweet and spicy Brussels sprouts. The lineup of desserts includes cashew cheesecake with a pecan and almond crust and crème brûlée with vanilla and coconut custard.

The inventiveness of the food is only part of the draw, however. The Hortons try to make the dining experience at Sanctuary as enjoyable and inclusive—as true to the restaurant’s name—as possible. This is what they have chosen to base their lives on. They met in 2006 at The Ravens restaurant at Stanford Inn, a vegetarian restaurant in Mendocino, Calif., where both worked and lived in on-site rooms. Barry was doing an internship he needed to graduate from culinary school, and Jennifer had landed housing and a job as the landlord’s assistant after her car broke down across the street; she had spent months before traveling in Canada and California.

Barry eventually became the restaurant’s executive chef. Jennifer worked as a special education teacher for middle and high school students coming out of juvenile hall. But she repeatedly got into trouble for trying to support student families and decided to join Barry at his dream restaurant, a place that would serve healthy food and also do good for the community.

They operate the Charlotte version of Sanctuary under the same philosophy. The Hortons include a list of local vegan restaurants in their check presentations to customers. On Wednesday evenings, the restaurant donates 15% of its profits to a series of local non-profit associations; by August, the Hortons had donated to Roof Above, Sustain Charlotte and Families Forward Charlotte, among others. They display the work of a rotation of local artists; instead of the usual practice of taking a percentage of sales, they’re asking artists to donate 10% to a Charlotte nonprofit of their choice.

“I love our mission,” says Jennifer. “I like not having to compromise on my ideals. Raising two young children and running a restaurant, I am sometimes asked how I do it all. All I can say is this: don’t look at my house.