Spotlighting Candle 79 — Plant-Based Dining At Its Finest!

Candle 79
154 East 79th Street
New York NY 10021
Candle 79
Facebook Page
Twitter Page
(212) 537-7179

 

by CD Davidson-Hiers

Candle 79 Exterior

Candle 79 Evening Exterior

 

Candle 79 is one branch of a triad of higher-end restaurants in New York City that offers a selection of organic vegan options. The entire menu is vegan, and that was a novelty I had to quickly adjust to after asking Elena, the manager, “so…your ice creams don’t have dairy, right?” She smiled and said again that dairy is an animal product, so no.

Catherine Deborah With Manager, Elena

Catherine Deborah With Manager, Elena

 

It was by chance that my parents and I stumbled upon Candle 79 on the corner of East 79th Street and Lexington Avenue. I had Googled vegan restaurants in NYC. It was the first on the list and by that time I was so hungry I zombie-walked my way to the front door without hesitation. They were pretty full at 5:30pm on a Sunday night, but fortunately, the manager standing near the entrance suggested that we dine in at the bar where there just so happened to be three empty seats.

 

Interior with CD at the Bar

Interior with CD at the Bar

 

The ambiance of the restaurant was seductive in the way that restaurants are when you can tell by the lighting that you are about to be dietetically pampered. Even my mother with her taste for fine-dining and antipathy toward the efforts of the plant-based goes on record for saying “if you [my daughter] bring home vegan food like what is served here, I will never eat meat again.”

 

Candle 79 unnamed-18 copy

Non-alcoholic beverage consisting of chia seeds, mango, pomegranate seeds, and Fresca.

 

Margarita

Margarita

 

Organic Red Wine

Organic Red Wine

 

To start off the night, my 20-year-old self ordered a non-alcoholic beverage consisting of chia seeds, mango, pomegranate seeds, and Fresca. I ordered another one with dinner. My mom had a glass of an organic Cabernet Sauvignon (who knew there were organic wines?), and my father a margarita. An amuse-bouche was brought to us before we opened our menus to whet our palates and give us a sample of the restaurant’s fine dining. I would guess it to have been a mix of vegetables, but before I had the time to analyze the ingredients, my father had swallowed it whole.

 

Amuse-Bouche

Amuse-Bouche

 

Clearly Defined Menu

Clearly Defined Menu

We sat pouring over the menus for a solid fifteen minutes, not quite believing in our good fortunes that we did not have to interpret what was being served. Almond cheese, cashew cream, wheat balls. The novelty was this: there were names on the meals labeling exactly the ingredients. The main problem non-vegans have with trying a plant-based diet is that the meals attempt to emulate a carnivorous platter. Candle 79 broke with tradition by saying instead, ‘look, we’re going to give you a recognizably familiar dish, but remember it’ll be wheat, not meat. And the ice cream is soy and coconut milk.’

 

Spaghetti Pasta

Spaghetti Pasta With Truffled Tomato Sauce

 

The food, stated quite simply, was utterly fantastic. This comes from someone who eats all her meals homemade and fresh. I ordered the spaghetti pasta with truffled tomato sauce, roasted garlic, spinach, and cashew parmesan.

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Almond Cream Cheese

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Shallots and  Almond  Cheese

 

As a side, using this review as an excuse to eat more food, I ordered roasted brussel sprouts with shallots and almond cheese.

 

Spinach Ravioli

Spinach Ravioli

 

Mushroom-Squash Risotto

Mushroom-Squash Risotto

 

Guacamole Timbale2

Poblano-Guacamole With Plantain Chips

 

 

Polenta Fries

Polenta Fries

 

My parents also joined the festivity of sampling food for a cause and requested guacamole timbale (poblano-guacamole, chipotle black beans, jicama-cucumber salsa, plantain chips, ranchero sauce), polenta fries, spinach ravioli (cashew cheese, fall vegetables, sautéed broccoli rabe, cashew parmesaon, truffled tomato sauce), and herb-roasted fingerling potatoes.

 

Mac and Rebecca

Max  and Rebecca

 

While we were eating, I made small talk with Max, the bartender who liked to pretend he did not speak fluent Spanish, and Rebecca, his lovely protégé whose specialty is chai latte mixed with spices that tickle the back of your throat and drag warmth down into your chest.

 

Chai Latte

Chai Latte

 

We finished our experience with desserts of sweet potato pie with caramel pecan ice cream and coconut whipped cream, alongside a Mexican chocolate brownie (caramelized bananas, French vanilla ice cream, candied pecans, chocolate-ancho sauce).

“Yes, it’s dairy, free,” Elena (the manager) said with a patient smile when I asked. “It’s a vegan restaurant.”

 

Mexican Chocolate Brownie

Mexican Chocolate Brownie

 

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

 

Candle 79 is one of the better restaurants I have been to, and one I certainly would revisit if and when I have the chance. Their prices reflect the quality of meals they serve, and a reservation prior to arrival will give you a better chance of sitting at a table, but dinner at the bar will by no means inhibit your experience.

 

Make time when visiting New York City to stop by and say hello to Max and Rebecca behind the bar, as well as Elena up front who’s available for a chat even on a busy night. Give them my best.

CD Davidson-Hiers is in her second year at FSU as a double major in French and English. As an aspiring writer, she craves adventure and exposure while attempting to maintain her flagging interest in higher education. She is a practicing triathlete, plays the violin, and reads voraciously. She became involved with Veggin’ Out and About late in 2014 and began writing for the blog at the turn of the year.

Contact Catherine Deborah to recommend a restaurant, talk about anything plant-based, discuss literary works, or even pose an unanswerable philosophical question.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive weekly news and updates from VegginOutAndAbout.

You have Successfully Subscribed!