Last night, my birthday festivities continued when Mike took me to Candle 79, my all time favorite vegan restaurant on the Upper East Side. He actually introduced me to it for the first time exactly a year ago, on my last birthday!
I took advantage of my newfound 21-ness with a fun cocktail: The Redcoat.
Bluecoat gin, sake, muddled mint, blood orange bitters, lime, agave, sugar, and up. I found it funny that such a macho name was actually a hot pink drink.
First, we were brought a complimentary amuse-bouche of black bean pate with fresh tomatoes on a crostini. I love that Candle always surprises you a bit at the beginning of your meal!
When it comes to Candle 79, you have to go big or go home. To start, we shared the fried dumplings, filled with seitan, shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy and sesame-ginger soy sauce.
I liked them but wasn’t in love- I could have eaten the fried dough and baby bok choy all night long, but the interior was a bit too mushroomy for me. Mike absolutely loved them, though. (I hate when my mushroom aversion gets in the way of enjoying good food!)
For my entree, I chose the live zucchini enchiladas.
Cashew cheese, spinach, guacamole, chipotle tomato sauce, cashew sour cream, toasted pumpkin seeds, baby romaine, cucumber-jicama salsa.
These were delicious and fresh-tasting. I’m becoming a huge fan of nut-based creamy cheeses. This may be blasphemous, but as someone who’s always preferred whipped cream and frosting to cheese in the real dairy department, dare I say it’s even better than the real thing (to me at least)?
Mike ordered the chili-grilled seitan, with quinoa pilaf, sauteed chard, tomatillo-black bean sauce and avocado-pumpkin seed salad.
He really enjoyed his meal as well, and even gave me his avocado slices. What a guy.
We also shared an order of their onion rings with chipotle-aioli dipping sauce.
I love the rings themselves, but I have to say that the sauce is the real winner in this combo. I ate it with a fork once we’d polished off all the fried onions.
We both knew exactly what we wanted for dessert: the chocolate-peanut butter bliss. Chocolate mousse, peanut butter mousse, chocolate shell and a berry coulis. Of course, we each needed our own. Sharing? I don’t share these types of things. Sorry I’m not sorry.
At dinner on Thursday Gracie asked me whether I preferred Pure Food and Wine or Candle 79, and I have to say that it’s a really close call. However, I think I’d choose Candle just because it’s a) more affordable, b) more approachable to non-foodies and c) more nostalgic for me. I’ve only known this place for a year, but I have a lot of good memories already! In all honesty, though, you really cannot beat either, and I consider them to be the two best dining experiences I’ve ever had.
Although, I did point out to Mike last night that the mint chocolate sundae beats out the peanut butter bliss, solely for being three times the size of it. I take my dessert seriously