There are some pretty good vegan restaurants in LA – Madeleine’s, Seed Bistro, Native Foods, to name a few – but since I started paying attention to plant-based dining establishments, all I’ve heard is how amazing some of the New York places are. Although most vegan restaurants tend to load up on oil and aren’t the healthiest of food choices, they’re still fun to try once a while, especially when you’re on vacation. I had to be in New York last weekend for a wedding, and every vegan who lives there or has lived there told me I needed to check out Candle 79, so I made a reservation there and decided to bring a bunch of meat-eating buddies.
First of all, the decor of the place is amazing, and I really haven’t been to a vegan restaurant anywhere with this kind of atmosphere. Candle 79 looks just like it sounds; dark and intimate, with lots of old wood, whimsical patterns on the wall, imperfect staircases, and inviting nooks. This is truly the only plant-based fine dining establishment that I’ve been to that can compare in overall feel to a regular restaurant.
Luckily, I had a bunch of people with me so we could try a bunch of the dishes. We had:
- Steamed Dumplings with seitan, shitake mushrooms, baby bok choy, in a sesame ginger soy sauce
- Grilled Kale Salad with haricots verts, beluga lentils, red onions, turnips, avocado, sunflower seeds, spelt berries, in a chive vinagrette
- This ravioli dish which isn’t on their online menu but was delicious
- Seitan Piccata with creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, in a lemon-caper sauce
- Herb-Baked Tofu with sautéed potatoes, portabello mushrooms, brussels sprouts, french lentils-poblano sauce, citrus salad
- Mustard-Ginger Grilled Tempeh with a sweet potato puree, sautéed trumpet royale mushrooms, brussels sprouts, lentils, brown rice, sunflower seeds, apple salad, cranberry-chipotle coulis.
I had this last dish, the tempeh, and it was unbelievable. Surely there was more oil and salt in there than I usually eat, but it really didn’t feel too heavy. All the dishes were artfully presented (sorry I was too distracted by the delicious food in front of me and my company to take photos of everything!), and yet unlike many fancy restaurants, the portions were very satisfying. It’s basically elegant comfort food. Next time I’m in NYC I’m definitely going back, and you should check it out if you’re ever in town.