Muse Bouche

The Corcoran's gallery café gets an inspired palate

Equinox produces elegant, composed dinner plates, often involving juicy steaks or local game. But Todd and Ellen Gray have always wanted to try cooking earthy health food.

Now they've got their partly vegan opportunity, courtesy of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The couple has partnered with the museum to launch Todd Gray's Muse at the Corcoran, a daily lunch café featuring market-sourced produce and local ingredients in soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.

Each morning, Gray visits local farmers' markets–including NoMa on Wednesdays and the White House Market on Thursdays–to build the menu. Early sweet corn from Davoncrest farm is used in a chowder ($4.75) speckled with shiitake mushrooms, brioche croutons and green onions.

Vegans will thrive here: A warm spinach wrap ($8) cradles a fajita's worth of avocado, roasted eggplant and gently charred onions. Far from a dessert soup, tomato-and-watermelon gazpacho ($4.75) has peppers and shreds of Thai basil to cut the sweetness.

For the decidedly non-vegan, Gray presses thin slices of Surry ham from Virginia with Brie, avocado and herbed mayonnaise ($9) for a stylized ham and cheese, and his "wildcard" panini ($10) changes based on the day's market bounty.

Even pastry chef Tom Wellings contributes sweets, including cookies ($4), a thick, fudgy vegan brownie ($3.50), and caramel popcorn ($3).

It's dining as art.

Todd Gray's Muse at the Corcoran, 500 17th St. NW (at E St.); 202-639-1700 or corcoran.org