by Julianne Soviero
People are increasingly aware that a plant-based or vegan diet can make positive changes in health and the environment. What about for the foodie, though? Can cuisine be both haute and healthy? For New Yorkers, the answer is a resounding, “yes!”
The five following restaurants all offer unique and inspired plant-based cuisine with a luxurious dining experience.
Suite Three Oh Six
Tucked away in an unassuming building in Tribeca is an oasis of extraordinary flavors. Most patrons probably spend a little time wandering around on Franklin Street wondering if perhaps they have the wrong address. To gain access to this den of unique flavors, patrons have to get buzzed in to the building, take the elevator, and then go down a hallway that looks misleadingly pedestrian. As one begins to approach the magic number 306, however, the enticing smells inform that the destination is within reach.
The Suite is minimalist loft that caters to no more than 32 people at a time. The kitchen is visible through a glass partition that separates patrons from the staff but allows patrons to see all aspects of the food preparation. The small number of people and the visibility of the kitchen create a very intimate experience. Every dinner at Suite Three Oh Six is a different. The menu is not announced until patrons arrive. Chef Daphne Cheng looks for the freshest, most seasonal ingredients available and crafts her menu from those items. Despite her youth, Daphne is gaining an unmistakable reputation as a pioneer in haute, plant-based cuisine. She defies convention by insisting that vegetables can be the centerpiece of every meal. Her passion and creativity are truly what make her shine as a chef: “I think about food 24/7. If I’m not cooking it, eating it, taking pictures of it, or reading about it, I’m dreaming about it, talking about it, or teaching someone else how to enjoy it best.”
Meals are several courses and typically run about $60 per person, but can be more or less depending on the chef and how many courses it will be. Meals typically take 2-3 hours as everyone is served at once. Patrons can bring their own alcoholic beverages.
Below are some sample courses:
Taro pastry +wild arugula + sriracha crème + smoked agave
Rice paper + chayote squash + toasted pumpkin seeds + sesame ponzu sauce
Chocolate ganache + strawberry mousse +lily bulbs
Suite Three Oh Six is located at 59 Franklin Street, New York, NY 10013. Call (212)226-6891
Pure Food and Wine
Gramercy Park is a beautiful area of the city, and one of its best kept secrets is probably the garden at Pure Food and Wine. The garden is opening for dining whenever the weather is appropriate, and patrons can enjoy the foliage and the combinations of adventurous flavors.
Owner Sarma Melngailis attended culinary school at The French Culinary Institute in downtown NYC before she was first introduced to raw food. Pure Food and Wine is therefore not only vegan, but it is also raw, organic, and seasonal. It has an extensive list of wines, sakes, teas, and even kombucha. Their cocktails vary with the seasons.
Pure Food and Wine has a unique and delicious menu that might be overwhelming to those who have not been there before. Thankfully, they offer a tasting menu for $69 per person. The entire table must do the tasting menu. Wine pairings may be added at an additional 40 per person.
Below are some sample courses:
Argan Poached Persimmons, Cucumber-Dill Tzatziki with Micro Mint caraway-barberry cracker, za’atar, sumac
Spinach and Picholine Olive Mezzaluna with King Oyster Mushrooms
tomato-saffron confit, watercress, sea beans and finger lime
Orange Blossom Sponge Cake with Strawberry-Elderflower Semifreddo
candied pistachios, strawberries, cabernet reduction
Pure Food and Wine is located at 54 Irving Place (between 17th and 18th Streets). Call (212)477-1010
Blossom now boasts several restaurants in NYC, each with a slightly different emphasis. The Chelsea location of Blossom is an intimate dining experience with soft lighting and a friendly staff. The West Village location (Blossom on Carmine) places an emphasis on small plates designed to be enjoyed with wine and cocktails. The Upper West Side Location, Café Blossom, is stylish and casual dining.
Blossom is an entirely vegan restaurant that was established to bring vegan dining to a “fresh, new and delicious level.” Their mission is to “bring animal-caring, health conscious cuisine to food lovers everywhere.” Their organic ingredients come from local farms and small distribution companies. They know an organic, vegan diet encourages a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some sample courses:
Seaweed Caviar Canape 11
cashew and pine nut cheese, sliced cucumber, golden beet, dill
SPAGHETTI SQUASH CAKE WITH WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO 20
sautéed spinach, saffron cream sauce, pine nut garnish (GF, SF)
Check their website for the locations and menus: blossomnyc.com
Candle 79 is located on the Upper East Side, where it is situated in a gorgeous duplex space. Their mission is to bring elegant local, vegan, and organic food into the culinary mainstream. They do this with beautiful presentation, and a knowledgeable and accommodating staff. Their creativity is sure to dazzle even the omnivore. They also have a wide selection of wine, cordials, and cocktails. Candle 79 has been rated Zagat’s number one vegetarian restaurant twice and its reputation spans the globe. Patrons have been known to spot some vegetarian celebrities at Candle 79.
Here are some sample courses:
Jicama avocado tartare
Moroccan spiced chickpea cakes (date apricot ginger chutney and toasted almonds)
Mexican chocolate brownie, housemade ice cream and and its reputation is known internationally.
Candle 79 is located at 154 East 79th Street (at Lexington Aveunue). Call 212-537-7179
Infused with a quiet elegance, Le Bernadin is famed for a specialty in seafood, but patrons would be pleasantly surprised to learn that they accommodate plant lovers as well. It is the only four star restaurant in New York to have maintained its status of excellence for more than twenty years. It has also received more James Beard awards than any other restaurant in New York City. It is ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world. Recently redecorated, the sleek contemporary bar somehow perfectly accentuates more classical look in the dining room. Every detail, down the utensils, is beautiful.
Plus, omnivores and vegans can all enjoy a meal in the same place.
Since Le Bernadin is not a vegan restaurant, patrons should let them know when they make a reservation. A note will be made on the reservation, and they will be sure to accommodate.
They can craft a full vegan tasting menu. 4 courses are $135 per person, 6 courses are $155 per person ($246 with wine tasting) or 7 courses are $198 per person ($ 336 with wine pairings).
There isn’t a specific set tasting menu, the chef just goes by what is fresh and available that day. They were therefore unable to provide specific examples of courses, but their reputation speaks for itself.
Le Bernadin is located at 155 West 51st Street. Call 212-554-1515
Author: Julianne Soviero is a certified personal trainer, vegan foodie, speaker, and author of Unleash Your True Athletic Potential (available on Amazon). She has produced countless award-winning athletes, and uses her education in hypnosis, nutrition, kinematics, and recovery to take all athletes to the next level. Visit her website at www.trueathleticpotential.com for more information.