So last night, after a long, hard week, Aviva and I met up with our friends Adam and Shauna in the city for dinner and drinks. I had not been into the city in a while, and periodically I feel like I really should take advantage of living in New York and venture into the heart of the city (essentially all of Manhattan functions as the down town area for New Yorkers who live outside of Manhattan) to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a pleasant evening that would cost half as much anywhere else.
Last night the lucky recipient of our involuntary largesse was a delightful vegetarian restaurant called the Candle Cafe. This unassuming place, on 75th and 3rd in the heart of the upper East Side, evoked minor panegyrizing from both Shauna and Adam when we were deciding on a place, so I decided we had to try it.
The restaurant is completely vegetarian, and rather vegan friendly as well, unlike many vegetarian places that rely heavily on cheese and eggs. Like many places in this part of Manhattan, the restaurant was small, thin and long, and unlike many it was very well lit and quiet. There was also a pleasant, unhurried ambience that stimulated conversation nicely. The menu was rather extensive, and I was happily unable to decide on what to get for quite sometime, as was everyone else. It is always a pleasure to see a vegetarian restaurant break away from the standard veggie fare and get really creative, and this place certainly does that.
We eventually settled on gaucamole and seitan chimichurri as appetizers, and then got cabernet grilled seitan (Aviva) which came with grilled oyster mushrooms, a vegetarian burrito (me) filled with veggies, marinated seitan, beans and basmati rice, a grilled soy burger with soy cheese (Shauna) and a grilled tofu with a butternut squash puree thingee (Adam). We finished off the meal with organic carrot cake, chocolate mousse pie and vanilla chocolate chip bunt cake.
Some of the food was really good, in particular the butternut squash, the veggies on Aviva's dish, the carrot cake and my burrito, and some, like Adams tofu, was just mediocre. Opinions were mixed as to whether the food was worth the price, but overall the place was relatively inexpensive for an organic, healthy meal in Manhattan, plus the atmosphere was great and made for great conversation and a really enjoyable meal ... I am going back here for sure.
After dinner we lingered for a while, just chatting, and eventually made our way out into the sleet and over to Brother Jimmys, a college age/frat boy style bar/North Carolina BBQ place I have been to before over on the West Side. We had a couple beers (literally, the 4 of us only had 2 beers) and hung out for a while reminiscing about the 80's, mostly due to the heavily top 100 hits of the 80's soundtrack that was playing in the background. Then around 1115 we left, said our goodnights and Aviva and I got on the BxM 10 (god I love that bus) and headed home to the Bronx. A fabulous evening, relaxing and talking with good friends and good food, a wonderful start to the weekend.