Vegetable lovers, rejoice! Right now most of your favorite items — carrots, cauliflower, sweet corn, peas and rutabagas — are having a moment in New York City restaurants. But, just because an eatery makes dishes with freshly picked ingredients doesn’t mean it’s a vegetarian spot; in fact, plenty of meat-eating chefs are churning out an array of tasty plant-based selections worthy of any carnivore’s attention. With that, here are five such places to get your greens.
Vegetables have become so popular that chef Amanda Cohen was able to take her tiny, always-packed restaurant, and move it to a bigger, brighter space on the Lower East Side at the beginning of 2015. The kicker: her award-winning eatery is 100 percent vegetarian, yet meat lovers flock to order Cohen’s portobello mousse with truffle toast, jerked carrots in a mole sauce over carrot waffles, Brussels sprouts tacos and other innovative plates. Make sure to order her signature jalapeno hush puppies. Pair the meal with a bottle of chardonnay or a giant goblet of gin and tonic. Then, as you nibble away, you will truly begin to understand the meaning behind her whimsical name.
The W Hotel in Union Square recently got a new resident to replace the weary restaurant Olives. Enter: Irvington, a hip, chic place that features lots of seasonal vegetables. The kitchen is run by chef David Nichols, a former Landmarc chef who specializes in employing local ingredients. On a recent spring menu, he served a hearty roasted cauliflower and kale flatbread; an appetizer of grilled asparagus with poached egg and ‘nduja vinaigrette; and heaping sides of roasted mushrooms with garlic scapes, wilted spinach and marbled potatoes with spring onions. But even the meat-focused dishes contain a stunning display of veggies. For example, a perfectly crispy snapper sits atop a pile of spring pea pureeh. Glazed Muscovy duck is accompanied by bibb lettuce leaves, radishes and scallion crapes, so you can make your own mini wraps. It’s an herbivore’s paradise that’s appealing to everyone else, too.
The Farm on Adderley
Also in Brooklyn you have the darling The Farm on Adderley, a farm-to-table winner that, with exposed brick walls, rustic wood tables and low lighting, feels like a provincial farm house inside. When it comes to vegetables on the menu, you will find tasty options like sweet pea fritters, fried green tomatoes, sorrel soup and crostini with fava beans and mint — and that’s just on the appetizer section. With regards to the mains, don’t be discouraged by all the corvina and market steak you see on the menu; there are plenty of greens coming from the kitchen. Take the grilled pork, for instance; not only do you get a sizzling piece of meat, but the plate also comes with sunchoke confit, black pepper nutmeg jus and pistachios. Or, you could always opt for one of the vegetarian plates (savory mushroom tart with caramelized onions and walnut purée, nettle and ricotta ravioli with succulent green garlic cream). The Craft cocktail list has a hint of farmers’ market freshness to it as well. The vodka cucumber lemonade and the Charade (yuzu, lime and lemongrass-infused genever) are two that immediately come to mind.
When PUBLIC alumnus Tamer Hamawi, Emelie Kihlstrom and Elise Rosenberg opened Colonie in Brooklyn Heights in 2011, they were ahead of the curve when it came to seasonal, farm-to-table cooking. Through the years, and after a few chef changes, they have stuck to the same principles, serving an array of produce-heavy dishes today. For starters, their salad section features four options — beets with green apple, and snap peas over tangy Middle Eastern labne are two of our favorites — for patrons. They also have a four-dish vegetable menu that offers tastes of a carbonara-influenced spaghetti squash and the umami-rich plate of cauliflower with anchovies, capers and Parmesan. For dessert try the rhubarb galette or a sticky date cake. While you are there, make sure to check out the wall of edible greens and herbs that not only makes the industrial, reclaimed wood- and tile-filled space feel fresh, but also comes in handy for cooks and bartenders who need the plants for their recipes.
It should come as no surprise that world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten would have a seasonal restaurant in the city that makes veggies something to talk about. Here you can sample local specialties like sweet pea soup with carrots and mint; wood oven-roasted fiddlehead ferns; Swiss chard with lemon; and toasts covered in delectable things like mushrooms or ramps and goat cheese. We guess it doesn’t hurt having a rooftop garden mere feet from the kitchen. You will see plenty of greenery on the entrees, too. The sautéed shrimp, for example, has watercress and market vegetables on the side while the black sea bass comes with chilies, herbs and spinach. Everything here proves fresh and light, much like the warehouse-cool ABC Carpet & Home retail shop the restaurant is housed in.