Vegan milkshakes and quinoa pancakes … at a diner?

With its Amish-egg omelets, wasabi salmon sliders and antibiotic-free Angus burgers, Silver Diner has never quite fallen into the same category of diner as, say, the Waffle House or IHOP. Now, the chain is doubling down on nutritionally conscious dining, carving out a significant amount of menu space for gluten-free and vegan diners. See the new menu here.

 The roasted local veggie salad is one of a handful of new vegan items on the menu at Silver Diner. (Renée Comet Photography)

The roasted local veggie salad is one of a handful of new vegan items on the menu at Silver Diner. (Renée Comet Photography)

The vaguely vintage diners started serving nine new vegan dishes over the weekend, from a warm roasted local vegetable salad to black bean hummus to a vegan milkshake made with soy ice cream. A smaller number of gluten-free additions are also available, including quinoa coconut pancakes, French toast crusted in coconut and the option of subbing in gluten-free bread for sandwiches. Many of the vegan dishes also fall in the gluten-free category.

The Paradise French Toast is a gluten-free option, with coconut-crusted Udi's bread, served with a carmel drizzle. (Renée Comet Photography)

The Paradise French Toast is a gluten-free option, with coconut-crusted Udi's bread, served with a carmel drizzle. (Renée Comet Photography)

The changes to the menu have made approximately 10 percent of the menu vegan, says Ype Von Hengst, executive chef for the chain, which has 14 free-standing locations in Maryland and Virginia.

The new vegan options are mostly entrees for lunch and dinner, so those looking for tofu scrambles or vegan doughnuts for breakfast will have to look elsewhere. But the warm roasted vegetable salad, loaded with arugula, kale, pecans, crispy beets and smoky eggplant and Brussels sprouts, is complex and hearty (and comes in a giant portion worthy of sharing), and a pesto vegetable salad got a nice kick from mustard, rather than Parmesan.

One thing you won't see? Fake meat.

"We tested the [meat substitute]," says Von Hengst. The response was mixed. “For me, it was too over-processed. It looked too much like fake chicken. Why work so hard to make it look like chicken?  I'm not working hard to make veggies taste delicious.”

Read more about vegetarian dining on the Going Out Guide:

This Thing You Should Try: Taan's Vegetarian Ramen
 The Post's Food staff went on a meatless bender. Here's what they ate.
Washington's Essential Vegetarian Eats

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