Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dining Out in New York City - Candle 79

Candle 79 Restaurant - New York City - Veega
Vegan Wild Mushroom-Squash Risotto - Candle 79 NYC - Veega
Wild Mushroom-Squash Risotto - Candle 79

Candle 79 is my favorite fine dining vegan establishment. It's also at the top of my list of favorite New York restaurants.  It opened in 2003 after much success of its sister restaurant Candle Café. Named by Zagat as the city's #1 vegetarian restaurant, it's also frequented by NYC's elite, including many famous vegans and non-vegans. It doesn't work for all occasions and is by no means a cheap eat, but if you're looking for an intimate, relaxing, satisfying, delicious meal, this is the place. I loved my first experience here, which was a surprise dinner reservation made by my boyfriend for my birthday last year. I had no idea where we were headed but when I saw the name as we pulled up to the restaurant I knew I was in for a fantastic meal.
Chipotle Black Bean & Squash Ravioli - Candle 79 - Vegan
Chipotle Black Bean & Squash Ravioli - Candle 79

I dined here for the second time just recently. It was also for my birthday, but this time my parents accompanied me. Neither of them are vegan, and my Dad isn't quite comfortable with the concept yet. He asked where the meat was when reading the menu, but after some guidance he picked out a dish that he thoroughly enjoyed. For a starter we went with the Chipotle Black Bean & Squash Ravioli made with whole wheat pasta, sautéed spinach, crispy capers and tomato sauce. There were two or three large raviolis stacked on the plate surrounded by sauce. We really enjoyed it! My Dad's meal was the special of the night, a BBQ Seitan served over black-eyed peas with a handful of other ingredients I can't recall. My Mom ordered the Wild Mushroom-Squash Risotto because she's a big fan of mushrooms. It was prepared with cashew cream, pumpkin seeds, fresh herbs and frizzled leeks. It was a hearty winter dish presented elegantly. I opted for one of the most popular dishes, the Seitan Piccata. The entree is a generous serving of housemade seitan with creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms and a lemon caper sauce. I was practically licking my plate! Delicious!

Seitan Piccata - Candle 79 - Vegan - NYC - Veega
Seitan Piccata - Candle 79

For drinks, my parents enjoyed white wine while I had a cocktail, the Fall of Persephone, made with gin, pomegranate, lime, agave, orange blossom water, and soda. It was a cold, snowy night and this full-flavored beverage warmed me up.

Fall of Persephone Cocktail - Candle 79
Fall of Persephone Eco-Cocktail - Candle 79

For dessert I had to have the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss. They presented it beautifully with a birthday candle and berry sauce drizzle (or coulis, as the menu reads). Made with very rich chocolate, normally I don't go for such flavors and textures, but the salty, creamy peanut butter offset it perfectly. It also happens to be gluten-free, which is a nice plus. Only after devouring it, did I wonder if it was the same dessert I had enjoyed for my first visit. Clearly that means it's a winner. My parents opted for the Apple Cranberry Pie served with vanilla ice cream. They loved it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss - Vegan Candle 79 NYC - Veega
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss - Candle 79

Apple Cranberry Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream Vegan - Veega
Apple Cranberry Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream - Candle 79

It was the perfect outing to escape the snow, celebrate almost two years of being vegan, and my first birthday as a NYC resident. My boyfriend's mother just gave us a gift card for Candle 79 as a Christmas gift and I cannot wait for my return visit!

Candle 79
154 E 79th Street
New York, NY 10075

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