Thursday, December 18, 2008

This candy isn't made of sugar

As you saw earlier, my dad visited me here in New York. As you may be able to tell from my dad's comments on earlier posts, my dad is a vegetarian (and one of those mean ones who mocks you while you eat a steak, saying that you're ripping into DEAD ANIMAL FLESH). So when I read that a new vegetarian restaurant had opened in the East Village, I made a reservation ASAP (I mean, there's only so many times I can go to Zen Palate).

The new restaurant is called Dirt Candy, which is kind of unappetizing, but luckily, the food tastes way better than the name might suggest. The decor leaves something to be desired, the lights are too bright to make it seem like a "nice restaurant." However, ambiance aside, we had a good meal.

We started off with the "snack" on the menu - jalapeno hush puppies, served with maple butter (there were more than are pictured, but we ate them. Whoops).

They were very nice. Just the right amount of heat, and the sweet maple butter was a nice contrast. But really, what was going to be wrong with fried dough and butter?

We moved on to first courses. I had Mixed Greens with Grilled Cheese Croutons,
roasted garlic vinaigrette and candied grapefruit pops.

I enjoyed all the pieces of the salad individually - the croutons were delicious and cheesy and the grapefruit pops were really interesting - slices of grapefruit on a stick, caramelized in sugar. They were sweet and sticky - but they didn't really go with grilled cheese. As a whole, I wasn't a fan of the dish. I'd each bit by itself though.

My dad fared better with Spinach Soup with Smoked Tofu Dumplings, lemon confit, water chestnuts and pistachio oil.

The soup was a vivid green - this is the first dish where we were really impressed by the color. There were many more to come. My dad and I both enjoyed the soup. It was just a nice simple spinach flavor with a little bit of smoke.

We moved on to main courses. I had Pinot Grigio Papardelle with roasted cauliflower and pine nuts.

The papardelle was made with wine instead of water (according to the waiter), but I didn't really taste much of a difference from regular pasta. I loved the cauliflower and the tomato sauce, but I was less of a fan of the sheet of dehydrated pine nuts. I would have much preferred regular toasted pine nuts. Overall though, it was a very enjoyable dish.

My dad had the Carrot Risotto with Carrot Dumplings and Carrot Curls.

Have you ever seen a dish that's so orange? It's real orange, not gross re-hydrated fake cheese orange. The carrot dumplings were very interesting - they looked like carrot slices, but they were really made of dough. The risotto was very well prepared, I liked it quite a bit. It may have been my favorite dish of the evening.

We skipped dessert - they all were a little too experimental for us. We opted to walk over to Veniero's instead. Yum.


David Borgen said...

i am not mean...a bit playful at times but never mean...of course if you insist on killing animals just to so you can eat them and take photos of their dead flesh etc that's your business...although i hear it is greener to eat less meat...the food at dirt candy was vividly colorful and tasty and it was thoughtful of lena to pick this place...db

Meredith said...

he is too mean sometimes... But then again, so am I. I like the name actually- the idea of veggies and fruits being candy from the earth is interesting, and often very true. That being said, I'm not sure this one is on the top of my list. Vegetables really taste like candy when cooked with pork products, for example. I'm just sayin'.