When my vegan (and now gluten-free) friend wanted to meet for dinner, I thought Dirt Candy in the East Village, NYC, would be the perfect place to venture to. It was quite the experience.
Who to Take: The Vegetarian Friend You Want to Treat
[THIS PLACE HAS EXPANDED! AND HAS HEADED DOWNTOWN] First off, the space is absolutely tiny, but the minimal, modern design manages to maximize the space. Peach-colored lighting sets the mood, an open kitchen sits at the rear. The concept: Each dish takes one ingredient, interprets it in different ways, and then is plated quite imaginatively.
Service is so friendly, you almost feel like part of a family. As a matter of fact, my friend and I were not crazy about the bottle of wine we ordered, and did casually mention it to the server at night’s end (after we drank it!). Unbelievably, the charge was removed from the bill. We did not expect that!
This place is a total treat, whether or not you are vegetarian. Portions are generous, and each dish presents complex and interesting flavor combinations. (Something to keep in mind, this restaurant is vegetarian, and will adapt most dishes to accommodate vegans, but only two of the dishes were able to be made gluten-free.)
The Veggie Dinner Deluxe
(seen in the photo at the top of this post) The theme Beets: salt-roasted beets, thai green curry, beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream. Right: For dessert we had Popcorn Pudding with salted caramel corn.
Flatware was streamlined, perfectly balanced and a joy to eat with. Servers pulled glasses from a thin shelf lining the wall down one side of the restaurant. Space was tiny but well utilized, every inch counts.
Flaky bread plus gluten-free crackers with dipping oil. Right: The theme Beans: coconut poached tofu, sea beans, saffron sauce, long beans with Moroccan herbs, sizzling rice.
The theme Spinach: spinach & grapefruit mille-feuille, with smoked pistachios and ricotta. Right: The theme Potato: warm potato salad, crispy Japanese yams, grilled sweet potato, olives, bitter greens, apples.
DIRT CANDY, 430 E 9th St (btw 1st/Ave A), this location closes its doors Saturday, August 30, the new location at 86 Allen Street should open in November, stay tuned. Vegetarians and meat-lovers alike will find lots to love.