Thursday, May 25, 2006

Candle 79

We went to Candle 79 located at 154 East 79th Street near Lexington Avenue, one of the top-rated vegan restaurants in NYC. And when we say vegan, we mean pure vegan. Everything on the menu is vegan. It’s also pricey (the items below plus our beverages added up to almost $100), but we’d heard so many good things about it, we had to give it a try.

Appetizers
One cute thing about Candle 79 is that you get complimentary Hushpuppies, one per person. They’re topped with an extremely tasty lemon aioli sauce. After we finished our Hushpuppies, they brought out the Crispy Dumplings we ordered. I think these deep-fried dumplings contained seitan and cabbage, but it was hard to tell. Whatever they were, they definitely satisfied my craving for something fried and salty. The twist was that they were served over a sweet balsamic reduction with tangy mustard sesame dipping sauce. The combination of flavors was complex and very yummy. - Jim
The highlight of the dumplings for me was the mustard sesame sauce. I also really enjoyed the hushpuppies. The lemon aioli was a thick creamy sauce and the flavor was just so strong. - Ev

Seitan Picatta
Ohmigod. The best meal I have ever eaten. Ever. I don’t even know where to begin. The seitan was perfect- soft, chewy, savory, just… perfect. The creamed spinach was so fresh and tender and nourishing. I don’t know what kind of mushrooms they used but they were scandalously scrumptious. The roasted new potatoes were full of salty-seasoned flavor. And, to top it all off, there were capers, a thin but rich lemon sauce, and an olive that just exploded and melted in my mouth and made me wonder, Oh my god how can an olive taste so good? Have I ever even tasted an olive before? Really? I actually said “I love you” to my empty plate when I was finished (I really did). But don’t remind Jim, I think he got a little jealous. - Ev

Cashew-Crusted Seitan
This was the daily special. It consisted of fried cashew-crusted seitan on top of a layer of asparagus and greens, which was on top of a layer of quinoa, all resting in an almond cream sauce. Reading that description, you might be worried that this dish falls on the blander side of vegan cooking. Personally, I like food to be rich and flavorful and when I see the word "quinoa" I usually get a little nervous, but I ordered this anyway and I’m glad I did. It wasn’t boring, it was perfect. The fried seitan reminded me of a chicken cutlet, but in a good way, not a gross way. The quinoa actually had a lot of flavor. The almond sauce was creamy and yummy and added just the right amount of saltyness to the dish. Combined with the greens and asparagus, it all added up to a dish that tasted healthy, but also tasted delicious, which in my opinion is an impressive and rare combination. - Jim

Ice Cream Sampler
These were like jellybellies- lots of flavor in little packages. I thought the chocolate chip mocha was the lightest of the bunch- almost more like a sorbet than an ice cream. The dulche de leche was really strong and creamy. The lemon chamomile was my favorite. It was really inventive and fun to eat. The contrast between the ultra rich cream taste and the tang of the lemon was subdued by the chamomile and made this really exciting for me. - Ev
All the sorbets and ice creams at Candle 79 are homemade, and it really shows. The lemon chamomile was actually the only one I didn't like. It’s not that it tasted bad, it was just a very flowery flavor that didn’t really work for me in a such rich, creamy ice cream. - Jim

Tahitian Vanilla Cake with Coconut Sorbet
Holy crap this was good. The cake alone would have been pretty good, it was almost more like a fluffy muffin in shape and consistency, but then they topped it with pineapple rum sauce, chopped pineapple and raisins, coconut flakes, and (the best part) homemade coconut sorbet. I love coconut and coconut sorbet, and this was hands-down the BEST coconut sorbet I’ve ever had. One of my common complaints about vegan desserts is that they tend to be very heavy, but this wasn’t. It was light but still absolutely delicious. - Jim
I tried the coconut sorbet first. It made my head fall to the table. I couldn’t help thinking that this was a very “adult” cake. Then I got mad at myself for thinking something pretentious like that and my usual thoughts came back and said “MMMM. Cake YUM!”. The simplicity of the cake with its perfect texture and the heat of the syrup and the sweet/sour of the fruit and the cool creamyness of the sorbet was just so good. So so good. - Ev

The Bottom Line
Wow. After dinner we took a walk down Lexington and it was like we were high on the food. The serving sizes were just right so we were full but not too full. And the food was decadantly delicious but still tasted healthy and hearty and didn’t leave us feeling bloated and gross. This restaurant is definitely out of our price range, so we should really only eat there on special occasions, but it was soo good… don’t be surprised if you see another Candle 79 review on veganfriendly.com soon. - Jim
An amazing dinner. It will be really hard to top this experience. This will be the standard that I’ll hold future meals up to because it was the first time I felt truly nourished by food, and the flavor and freshness was beyond anything I could’ve imagined. - Ev

9 Comments:

Anonymous Isa said...

I told you Candle 79 is the best! But I am not posting to say "I told you so". The site looks great, the photos are cute and the reviews are cute and you guys are cute and I love you.

ps I TOLD YOU SO!

12:23 AM, May 26, 2006

 
Anonymous paula said...

hi fellow ppkers! did you guys know that another ppker, sarahpea is doing an internship at Candle 79 right now? well she is! also, thank you for your reviews. i will be in new york in august, so maybe i will get to actually eat at some of these places. maybe not at candle 79, but um...yeah some place. anyway, <3 you guys!
ijdi

2:30 AM, May 26, 2006

 
Blogger veganfriendly said...

Does sarahpea get free food with her internship? Because if so I think I need to do an internship. -jim

ps ISA TOLD ME SO!

9:46 AM, May 26, 2006

 
Anonymous Angie said...

The food looks awesome! Thanks for starting this blog, even though I live in Vancouver, BC. I might have to take a trip to New York, if only to try some of those dumplings.

P.S. Isa wanted us to threaten you, but I can't after seeing the roommate movie.

Your fellow PPKer,
Angie (veggievulture)

1:30 PM, May 26, 2006

 
Anonymous jzn said...

my mouth is watering! such yummy descriptions...

9:01 PM, May 26, 2006

 
Anonymous sarahpea said...

hey guys-
It's sarahpea..
Yepp, I do get free food. I intern on Saturdays and get to pick anything off the lunch menu I want..as my 'pay' I guess. So I've had the lentil burger with polenta fries and the seitan piccata- yum and yum. It's a great place to work and eat. I actually had lunch with a friend there the other day(yay for summer Fridays) and had the spinach/mushroom pate with crostinis- very good, and the bbq seitan sandwich. Some good deals to be found at lunch.
Anyway- neat blog..it's like my life..minus the blog part.
I think I will be seeing you guys at dinner next week...so I guess we'll meet then!

3:13 PM, June 01, 2006

 
Blogger karen said...

I went to the Candle Cafe last year and it was fantastic. Less expensive that Candle 79, but amazing food! We had a feast for 4 and it was $150. This blog is great! I also have the Candle cookbook...

7:35 PM, June 02, 2006

 
Blogger veganfriendly said...

Thanks for all your comments, guys! Sarahpea you lucky lucky lady you. I look forward to our future meeting and eating. Thanks for the suggestions. I will have to try them next time we go there.
-Ev

5:13 PM, June 05, 2006

 
Blogger amberlynn said...

after reading your review i can't wait to try Candle 79! i'm moving to new york this fall to go to the natural gourmet and have been compiling a list of veg restaurants to work my way through! i'm coming from an area with very few dining options and am completely overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the options i'm going to have. so yeah, thanks for making me even more anxious and excited!!

1:50 PM, July 25, 2006

 

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