5 years ago if you had asked me to dine at a Vegan restaurant, my immediate answer would be no way. Fast forward to today, and I am the one begging my friends to join me at one of these places.
With the abundance of delicious vegan food served at several NYC restaurants, one could easily be fooled into eating animal free without even being aware of it.
Enter Candle Café, one of 2 NYC locations (UES & UWS), which has an interesting history. Owners Bart Potenza & Joy Pierson expanded the once tiny “Healthy Candle” into the present Candle Cafe after winning a pick-5 lottery for $53k in 1993! Talk about a sign.
Another plus of Vegan restaurants? Since they are so strict with what they can/cannot eat, they are very sensitive to other dietary needs as well. Candle Cafe and Candle 79 (the sister restaurant) both have gluten-free menus.
While it is not a huge menu, it does offer quality food. If you are looking for a filling meal, I would get the Paradise Casserole [layers of sweet potato, black beans, millet over steamed greens with country gravy].
I wasn’t looking to eat as heavy so I ordered:
Mezze Plate w/ hummus, quinoa tabouli, lemon-date chutney, marinated olives & zataar (GF w/ crudite): Get with the veggies & you’re GF a-okay. The quinoa tabouli is somewhat difficult to eat with carrot sticks but I’m sure you can make it work.
Carrot Ginger Soup (GF): This was the soup special of the day. To be honest – not my favorite. It was very watery and needed some type of non-dairy (this is a vegan spot) cream base.
Living Crunchy Sprout Salad (GF) w/ mixed greens, assorted sprouts, carrots, raisins & sesame seeds: I’m not going to lie – I felt like a rabbit eating this. Probably the healthiest thing I’ve eaten in the past couple months. Was nice & fresh though.
My fellow diner on the other hand, chose something a little heartier. I was pretty envious of her meal:
Tuscan Lasagna w/ grilled zucchini, peppers, onions, tofu basil ricotta, tapioca cheese & seitan (vegan “meat”) ragout topped w/ tomato sauce: I mean who would rather eat this than the crunchy sprouty salad??? Yeah, kidding.
But listen, it was the weekend and I did just run 3 miles and felt like I needed some type of treat. Also, it’s not everyday you see a chocolate mousse gluten-free cake on the menu. Done.
There’s always tomorrow to start that diet.
Pros: GF menu, fresh & delicious food. Also, amazing fresh pressed juices and smoothies!
Cons: No meat, no cream, no cheese…the real stuff that is.