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It's been quite some time since I've returned from New York City, but the whirlwind of the year's end kept me from properly documenting my culinary adventure in one of my favorite cities in the world. While I ran from the plane directly to Lula's Sweet Apothecary, aka heaven, I'm going to tackle the savory side of New York City in this post & leave the desserts for next time!
On our first full day in NYC, we headed one of my favorite neighborhoods, the East Village, to a well known organic vegetarian bistro, Counter. After hearing rave reviews about their brunch, we decided to try it for ourselves. The sun shone beautifully in to the windows as we ordered the Frittata Alla Fiorentina & the Signature Pain Perdu. The presentation of the tofu frittata with a creamy mushroom hollandaise on a bed of spinach was lovely & was served with home fries & a salad. While the frittata was highly recommended, I found it a bit salty & overwhelming, I've never been a hollandaise gal, so this is likely the culprit. The Pain Perdu, on the other hand, was right up my alley! Slices of thickly coated French toast smothered by banana flambé with a side of maple syrup & fresh fruit, it was a like dessert for breakfast, which I take no issue with!
Counter: 105 1st Ave between 6th & 7th Street
After exploring vegan candy mecca Economy Candy, we headed to midtown to catch a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade, which just happened to feature 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer that night, as well as former SNL cast member Horatio Sanz. All the laughter must have kicked up our appetites & we hopped in a cab headed for Candle 79. I've raved about Candle 79 in the past, but this meal turned out to be less than stellar compared to the previous experiences I've had there. We started with two orders of our favorite dish, the Seitan Chimichurri, which came to us charred & almost inedible. Hoping to have better luck with other dishes, we ordered the infamous Seitan Piccata, as well as the Grilled Pomegranate Tempeh. The Piccata didn't do it for me, there was a note of something fishy, that I just couldn't enjoy, so Ryan ate a large portion of the dish. The Grilled Pomegranate Tempeh was better with it's delicious sweet potato-squash puree, chocolate molé sauce & perfect crisp tender haricots verts, but the tempeh itself was underwhelming. I'm certainly not giving up on Candle 79, it's one of my favorite places to dine, so I still recommend everyone try this typically stellar restaurant.
Candle 79: 154 East 79th Street at Lexington
You can't visit NYC without having a bagel with shmear, so I asked one of my favorite New Yorkers, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, where we should head for this classic combination. She recommended Bagels on the Square for their vast selection of Tofutti spreads, so we took her advice & headed to the West Village. An everything bagel with scallion spread & a plain bagel with strawberry tofu cream cheese were procured. We sat across from the shop, in the square, as the sun shone down on us & the crisp air nipped our red noses. Our favorite was definitely the chewy, yet tender plain bagel & I enjoyed the strawberry cream cheese, despite some contamination issues with some wandering lox (ick!).
Bagels on the Square: 7 Carmine Street between Avenue Of The Americas & Bleecker Street
After another day of wandering around, shopping, freezing, & taking in the sights, we met up with my longtime friend Janine for a dinner at Red Bamboo. I was under the impression I had not been there before, but upon entering I was pretty sure Janine & I went here together in 2001 before we saw Menace at CBGB (RIP). We ordered quite a few dishes, from Vegetable Tempura & Collard Green Rolls to Buffalo Barbecue Wings & Butterfly Soy Chops. Holy Fried Food, Batman! It was a crispy, oily fest, as dishes I thought would be vegetable based showed up covered in batter, batter, & more batter! I'm not a big fan of mock meats like "soy chicken" or deep fried everything, so Red Bamboo just isn't up my alley. I know many people love this place, so if you like mock meat & heavy comfort food, check it out.
Red Bamboo: 140 West 4th Street between 6th Ave & Macdougal Street
The next day, we met up with our gracious host & former roommate Eliana to have lunch. Wanting something on the lighter side & trying to stay around her work, we checked out The Organic Grill. Ryan quickly selected a dish he'll order any time he sees it on the menu, The Reuben. Eliana & I shared a few items, a Spelt Crust Pot Pie & the daily special; the Soba Spectacular. The Reuben hit the spot with thick slabs of tempeh, sauerkraut & tangy dressing on Rye, served up with a large salad. While the pot pie left a lot to be desired, the Soba Spectacular lived up to it's name with chunks of sweet potatoes, mushrooms, & soba noodles covered with a tahini dressing atop a bed of kale. Despite the mixed reviews of this place online, our meals happened to hit the spot!
The Organic Grill: 123 1st Ave between 7th St & St Marks Pl
Another suggestion of Isa (Ms. Moskowitz, if ya nasty), we headed to the famous Yonah Schimmel Knishes on the Lower East Side. A knish is an Eastern European and Yiddish snack food made popular in North America by Jewish immigrants consisting of a filling covered with dough, baked or fried (thanks Wikipedia!). Yonah Schimmel has been around since 1910, so they have a bit of experience, which may be why the staff is impatient & rough around the edges. We ordered Potato, Broccoli, & a roasted Garlic with Red Onion, two of which were fresh out of the oven. My advice? Get whatever is hot or just came out (as long as it's vegan, aka no cheese) & skip the others or they'll nuke it in the microwave. I love potatoes, so I was in to these, but Ryan? Not so much.
Yonah Schimmel Knishes: 137 E Houston St between 2nd Ave & Chrystie St
I've saved the best for last with another classic NYC food, pizza! With the awesome company of Terry Hope Romero & Jason Das of SuperVegan, we headed to Park Slope, Brooklyn to dine at Pizza Plus. With an extensive list of toppings available, crust choices, Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, & far too much to talk about, we had a tough time deciding what to order. We ended up with two large pies; garlic, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, & broccoli rabe flanked one, while red bell peppers, jalapeños, & pineapple topped the other. Wow! Melty FYH, delicious toppings, & perfect chewy crust made for some spectacular pizza we all enjoyed. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, there were no leftovers, which is quite a feat for four people with two large pizzas. I assure you, Ryan played a large role in the pizza disappearing act! Get yourself to Pizza Plus for a vegan pizza pie, pronto!
Pizza Plus: 359 7th Avenue between 10th & 11th Streets in Brooklyn
As you can see, NYC is one hell of a vegan friendly city, arguably the best in the world. It's rare to find yourself in an area of the city without food options & I find myself trying new places every time I visit. In my next post, I'll touch on the plethora of desserts to be found!