Monday, March 23, 2009

An Evening out at Candle 79

There's been a lot of DVD and vegan pizza nights on my end, so when it was time for a special evening out, Candle 79, one of the most famed vegan restaurants in New York City, seemed like the perfect place to splurge on a nice dinner. Here's a recap of my first visit.

The homemade ginger ale, with agave, sparkling water, lime, and mint, $7. In a word, divine.

The amuse-bouche of the evening was edamame. I thinking they could have provided something more inspiring.

New York Times critic Frank Bruni said this was one of the more enjoyable hummus appetizers he has tried in the city, and I can taste why. Served with grilled paratha bread, olives, and a roasted garlic bulb. Pricey at $13, and they are stingy with the bread so we had to order more, for which they charged $2.

My dish...the seitan piccata, served with spinach, a grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, and lemon-caper sauce, $23. A tasty and humane alternative to a dish more associated with veal. The spinach wasn't "creamed" as the menu described, disappointingly...more steamed.

I sampled the Fall Harvest Paella, $20. The smoked seitan sausage was hard to find. This dish was good, but missed the Wow factor.

The dessert special, Mexican chocolate cake with ginger ice cream, $12. The cake was light and airy. The ginger ice cream made this dish. Too bad this isn't on the permanent menu.

If you're going for a romantic night, ask for a table by the window on the second floor. The great thing about dining out is it inspires my dishes at home. I never thought to grill my bread with hummus or serve it with roasted garlic. And I would definitely try making that ginger ale at home. But at these prices, Candle 79 is for special occasions only.

I asked the bartender why there weren't any local wines from Long Island on the menu, and she said it's because they had trouble finding a good wine that was vegan and organic. A shame. Also, the menu listed draft beer as $7, but the bill listed it as $8. A good reminder to always check your bill.

Visit Candle 79 at 154 E 79th St. btwn Lexington & 3rd Ave., New York City.
Click here to see Frank Bruni's audio slide show of his visit.

That said, my favorite place in NYC for vegan dining is still The Natural Gourmet's Friday night dinners. It's $40 per person for 4 courses, but that includes tax and tip, and bringing your own wine saves a fortune. It's communal dining, so you won't have the privacy, but the quality has never disappointed.

A flashback to my visits: fall seasonal fare and a night with guest chef Melissa Gellert .


Gillian said...

I've been meaning to try Candle 79 for quite some time now. It's been on my list ever since I visited Candle Cafe, the sister restaurant. Great review; that desert looks amazing. I like the way you pair the pictures with your review of the course - nicely done!

Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks Gillian! I haven't been to Candle Cafe yet...but one day.

Hope everyone checks out your entertaining blog:

Good luck!