One of the biggest paradoxes I have come across in raw food circles is that dining in most Raw Food/ Vegan restaurants is not unlike mainstream dining. Eating a more raw-vegan diet is supposed to be about eating more simple, lighter fare. However, this is not what I see in the raw/vegan restaurants at all. I see the same concept of going overboard on quantities of dense foods in overfilling quantities. Raw nuts and seeds are great but in moderation (like a serving that fits in one child-sized hand – not two, cupped like Oliver Twist’s asking, “Please sir, can I have some more?”! That’s nuts gone nuts! Hey McD’s, here’s one for your menu, the “McSoy Quarter Pounder with Seeds!”
Dense, poorly food combined is the hallmark of these raw and vegan restaurants because people seem to be missing the point. We eat too much and for the wrong reasons in our culture. Embracing the raw food lifestyle is not just about switching ingredients it’s about evolving our approach to food. What we have in the trend raw/vegan circles is raw/vegan food that simply mimics “real foods” but with raw/vegan ingredients so people will feel they are making meaningful change without changing anything at all. They think they are not eating the SAD diet but in many ways they still are. Sure, I can make you a Mock Bolognese Pasta that will have your Grandma going raw if you give me a brick of cashew nuts to work with. But it really is a mockery.
The good news is that dining out in great restaurants at large is fun and easy, armed with what you’re learning here about how food should be consumed and the importance of ease of digestion. In the spirit of this, I would like to offer you a few of my favorite picks and what I enjoy eating when I go out for some fun in my favorite neighborhoods. I hope it inspires you as you consider your options which may be more extensive than you realize in light of this! Have a grand dining experience!
Pylos, East Village, NYC Horiatiki: romaine, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, capers, kalamata olives, feta and a simple dressing of extra-virgin greek olive oil and red wine vinegar At home: nix the olive oil, add a pinch of dried oregano and substitute red wine vinegar for lemon Maroulosalata: tender lettuces, dill, scallions and feta served with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lemon dressing At home: use baby bibb lettuce or finely chopped romaine hearts, use raw sheep or goat cheese (or do without), nix the olive oil, add juice of a whole lemon and add julienned radishes. I’ve been eating this salad all week!
Gemma at the Bowery Hotel, East Village, NYC Mizuna Salad: beets, mizuna, goat cheese, pistachios (ask for no dressing, no pistachios, halved lemons on the side)At home: substitute with arugula if you cannot find mizuna, opt for goat cheese or pistachios, not both Arugula Salad: arugula, fresh goat cheese, cherry tomatoes (ask for no dressing, halved lemons on the side) At home: add sun dried tomato slivers, thinly sliced red onions and fresh basil for a main course salad Mixed Olives Plate: (ask for the Cerignola olives without olive oil and the parmesan cubes)
Joseph Leonard, West Village, NYC They have complimentary pickled cornichons in mason jars that are crunchy and delicious! Salad: baby lettuces, radishes, celery, fennel and red wine vinaigrette At home: use baby bibb lettuce or finely chopped romaine hearts, nix the olive oil, substitute vinaigrette for lemon, use the fronds from the fennel to garnish
Café Mogador, East Village, NYC Avocado Salad: mesclun, cucumber, endive, tomato, beets & olives Mezze Appetizers: spicy carrots, marinated beets, tabouleh, olives & pickles At home: their appetizers were the inspiration for my earlier post on mezze platters! Follow my tweaked recipes!
Lil’ Frankies, NYC (various locations) Lil’ Frankies Salad: arugula, roasted beets, tomatoes, green beans, new potatoes, broccoli, red onions, zucchini and fresh fennel At home: this salad is reminiscent of a Salad Nicoise without the tuna. Use any seasonal greens and vegetables, omit new potatoes but add more roasted vegetables like bell peppers, asparagus and of course, nicoise olives!
Blue Ribbon Sushi, Soho, NYC Yasai Tanzaku: Vegetable sticks with miso dressing At home: this raw salad is great with my roasted beet dressing recipe for those who don’t use miso.