For the average person the idea of having an entirely vegan meal would not be the most welcome of prospects. In recent years, however, more and more chefs have increasingly put their skills to work in producing food that is delicious and appetizing while satisfying vegan requirements. From vegan frozen desserts to vegan cupcakes the non-animal product selection is no longer limited to tofu ‘chicken’.
Candle 79 in the Upper East Side is a prime example of just how good vegan food can be. For starters, the smoked hummus and guacamole have both been lauded by critics. The ravioli varies by season and the butternut squash was particularly delicious. Yes, it won’t exactly taste like Italian pasta but the flavors are delicious and satisfying. Moving on to the entrees, the seitan piccata with lemons and capers and the Moroccan spiced chickpea cake both came highly recommended. Unlike most vegetarian and vegan restaurants, Candle 79 calls their dishes for what they are. It is grilled tempeh not grilled ‘chicken’, wheat balls not ‘meat’ balls and therefore reduces the tendency to compare the dish to its meat counterpart. This makes it easier to judge the dish for what it is, and their dishes are well executed plates that play on textures and layers of flavors. For dessert the molten chocolate cake was particularly enticing but if you’re feeling a little more adventurous then order the live sweet potato or pumpkin parfait. Paired with the huckleberry ice cream it has that obviously healthy taste but at the same time still decadent and sweetly satisfying. Their organic wine selection, though pricey, is also very good. Over all, a meal at Candle 79 is in fact not cheap but considering the thought and effort that goes into their selection of ingredients and the actual preparation it seems rather reasonably priced.
The atmosphere is a little on the chichi side with plush seating and dim lighting. It’s great for a slightly fancy dinner date but homey enough to bring the parents for dinner. The wait staff is excellent and they’ll guide you through the menu and be particularly helpful if you’re ignorant of vegan terms without looking at you funny. All in all, Candle 79 was impressive in a lot of ways and highly recommended to vegans and their meat-eating friends alike.
154 E 79th Street (b/t Lexington Ave. & 3rd Ave.)
Report Card (out of 5 stars):
Ambience: 4 stars
Service: 4.5 stars
Food: 4.5 stars