Sunday, September 10, 2006

Candle 79

We went back to what might be the best vegan restaurant in NYC, Candle 79, located at 154 East 79th Street near Lexington Avenue. Candle 79 is 100% vegan.

Chickpea Cake with Elf Mushrooms
This appetizer was a special the day we went and I really liked it. It consisted of a fried Chickpea Cake topped with salad, elf mushrooms, and a lemon aioli. The Chickpea Cake was great and it made me think of a big, tasty Falafel ball. But the star of this dish were the Elf Mushrooms. They were seared and the flavor and texture were perfect. It was definitely the best mushroom experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some pretty good mushroom experiences. -Jim
Word. These mushrooms were amazing. They were plump with a chewy texture and incredible flavor. The aoili was really thick and delicious. This whole dish was superb. -Ev

Grilled Caramelized Onion-Merlot Seitan
Praise Seitan, this was good. This was better than good; this was insanely good. What made it so good, you may ask? Well, first let’s take the corn. This corn was the corniest corn I’ve ever had. Every little perky kernel had so much sweet, crunchy deliciousness I wanted to kiss each one. (I opted to eat them instead.) Then there was the sauteed baby spinach that was so fresh I felt the nutrients hopping onto my tongue. Lurking about, there was a mysterious wonder known as Lemon-Watercress Aioli- potent, creamy, tangy, YUM. But what about the key player? What about the Seitan? The Seitan at Candle 79 is perfect in both texture and taste and they give you just the right amount of it; there is enough for your dining companion to steal a bite or two and you can devour the rest without feeling unsatisfied or over-stuffed. In this meal, the seitan was seared perfection. But wait! There was more. Resting upon all of the aforementioned goodness sat a delectable peach half basking in all it’s balsamic-glazed glory. It was both tart and sweet and was incredibly soft. As if that weren’t enough, on top of that was a heavenly cluster of caramelized onions adding sweet and savory notes of their own. Each of these ingredients, perfect in their own right, worked together to elevate the whole dish to Masterpiece status. This was definitely as good as the Seitan Piccata so have fun choosing! –Ev

Pecan-Crusted Seitan
This dish was another item from their specials menu. It consisted of Pecan-Crusted Seitan on a stew-like mixture of beans, spinach, onions and (I think) watercress. It was topped with a roasted fig, which was pretty neat. Everything at Candle 79 is great, and this was no exception, but I will say that this was a little bland compared to some of the other dishes I’ve had at Candle 79. It was plated wonderfully, and all the ingredients were very fresh and healthy and probably local and organic, but the flavor left me wanting just a little bit more. It was a little better when I stopped thinking of the fig as a separate entity and started eating some fig in every forkful. The sweetness of the fig somehow brought out a slight saltiness in the Seitan. Overall, this was a very hearty, well-crafted dish and it was really good, but it didn’t have a very strong flavor. And I like strong flavors. –Jim
I thought this dish was great. Whereas my dish had a variety of contrasting flavors dancing around each other, this dish had flavors that all worked together to achieve a uniform level of savory comfort. The market beans in particular were amazing, as was the fig. I think this dish would be perfect on a cold/rainy day. –Ev

Blueberry Tart w/ Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
I almost passed out eating this. Seriously. I practically hyperventilated and Jim shushed me to calm me down. Let it be known I am a huge fan of Dulce de Leche Ice Cream. Plop it on top of a barely contained Blueberry Tart and drizzle intense berry and caramel sauces and fresh berries all around and I’m a beyond-happy camper. What was amazing was how subtle the blueberries were; they were fresh and soft but not too sweet or tart. The crust of the Tart was rich and savory, but again subtle. This subtlety allowed for an all-out brawl between the rich, creamy decadence of the ice cream and caramel sauce against the super-tart berry sauce and fresh berries. With each bite the winning side of the battle changed, but in either case the victor was clearly my mouth. YUM! –Ev
Yeah, this was really good and Evelyn was totally freaking out when she ate it. –Jim

The Bottom Line
Candle 79 is amazing. That’s nothing new. I’ve made an interesting observation, though. Both this time and the last time we ate here, my dish was good but Evelyn’s was better. Both times, I got the special and she ordered off the menu. So it occurs to me that, while the specials are cool because they’re something new and unique and (often) seasonal, the best dishes are the ones that have been tried and tested and have earned a place on the menu. So my advice to you when you go to Candle 79 is to order off the menu. And yes, I said “when you go to Candle 79” instead of “if you go to Candle 79” because every vegan needs to try Candle 79 at least once in their lives. –Jim
Once again, Candle 79 has blown me away. I cannot stress enough how much I love this restaurant; it’s vegan heaven, plain and simple. The dishes are extraordinary, the restaurant itself is beautiful, and the staff are not only friendly, but they have great recommendations too. You have to try the Summer Melon off of their beverage list; like the food, it is divine. -Ev


Blogger Vanessa said...

Hi guys - love the blog, you're doing all us NYC veggies a service. My wonderful sisters brought me to Candle 79 for my bday last week and I concur with it's fantasticness. I got the raw lasagna off the regular menu(amazing!), one sister got the seitan off the special menu (also amazing!) and I forget the other one (I think it was dusted in pumpkin seeds) but that was amazing too! The ambiance is sexier than most veg restaurants, and both my sisters (who are NOT vegetarian) LOVED the food and the organic wine was yum too. Highly recommend as well.

9:54 AM, September 11, 2006

Blogger Vanessa said...

Oh, while I'm here can I ask if ya'll are planning to have some sort of archive list or rating system? It would be a great reference. Being able to look up NYC restaurant by neighborhood, atmosphere (casual, upscale, etc.), or veganfriendly rating would be great. And you could link to each review. Just a suggestion! Keep up the good work.

9:58 AM, September 11, 2006

Blogger veganfriendly said...

Funny you should mention this, Vanessa. Lately we've been posting on an awesome site called and linking back here to our reviews. They have a huge database of restaurants, locations, ratings, and user
comments. Thanks for all of your suggestions! We have a few tricks up our sleeves. Stay tuned. Oh, and I'm glad you enjoyed Candle 79. YUM! -Ev

2:02 PM, September 11, 2006

Anonymous Isa said...

You guys. Don't do this to me. All I've had to eat today was an everything bagel with veg tofu cream cheese. Plus I have no money. Plus I'm scared of the subway. Stop dangling Candle 79 in my face.

2:26 PM, September 11, 2006

Blogger Nickole said...

I love your blog. I took 6 omni's to Candle 79 a couple of years ago and they all thought it was great. I was in NYC last month and took my husband for lunch. He loved it so much, he insisted we go back for dinner the next night. It's definitely my favorite vegan restaurant. I wish they had something like it here in Colorado.

6:53 PM, September 11, 2006

Anonymous Paula said...

this is the best thing i've read in a long time!

This corn was the corniest corn I’ve ever had. Every little perky kernel had so much sweet, crunchy deliciousness I wanted to kiss each one.

<3 you guys.

i bet i could get rich if i built some sort of weapon using a diamond and a laser, then i could afford to eat at candle 79.

1:06 AM, September 12, 2006

Blogger Sonya said...

We went here when visiting NYC, and absolutely LOVED it. It was nice to have a "fine dining" kinda meal.

We then discovered "Millenium" in San Francisco. If you're ever in Cali, that is absolutely the most incredible vegan fine-dining establishment in the universe. Worth every penny!

6:27 AM, March 10, 2007

Blogger veganfriendly said...

Wow! Millenium looks super awesome! Thank, Sonya, we will definitely check it out if we ever get out to San Fran!

10:36 AM, March 10, 2007


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