Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Natural Gourmet Institute's Friday Night Dinner

The best-kept secret in the vegan food world in New York City has to be the Natural Gourmet Institute's Friday night dinner.

Every Friday (6:30, one seating-only), students of the school transform their classrooms into cozy, candle-lit dining rooms, where you feast on their divine four-course vegan dinner. Optional dairy occasionally shows up on the menu, but you can leave it out.

For $36 (tax/tip included; BYOB) I got all this:

Mushroom & Roasted Fennel Soup with Crisp Mushroom Garnish
Roasted Beets & Baby Arugula Salad with Toasted Walnuts & Balsamic Vinaigrette
Lemon-Thyme Tofu with Bitter Greens and Mediterranean Quinoa with Caramelized Onion Sauce
Apple Cake & Cinnamon Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

While the students usually design the menu, that night guest chef Melissa Gellert was in charge. It was all scrumptious, except for the tofu, the only major misstep of the meal. It was uninspired, tasteless, and what is the stereotype of vegan food...a bland piece of tofu. And the portions sizes are never this big (I left having to walk off my indigestion for an hour!)

A word of can take a few weeks to get a reservation, so call ahead. Reservations required. Prices are soon going up to $40, but it's worth every penny.

Visit the Natural Gourmet Institute, 48 W. 21st St., 2nd floor (between 5th & 6th Ave.), New York, NY

Here are some pictures of our feast...

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