Yesterday, after a discussion about food with a woman I work with, Toby Joe and I took her up on a suggestion and headed to a raw restaurant called Pure Food and Wine.
Pure Food and Wine is pricey, but it’s well worth the splurge. Located on Union Square East, it has to fight with several other expensive restaurants as well as pay the monthly rent. Which I imagine is a hefty amount.
In spite of our goal to sit outside in the much talked about garden, we were forced to sit inside as the back was completely full for the duration of the evening. (For those of you who are ever interested in checking it out on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, make sure to make reservations.) Each table was candlelit. Beyond that, there wasn’t much more light. There were orchids strewn across the inside and we could smell them every time the breeze blew through the open storefront whose doors slide open and expose Irving Street. Judging by the attention to detail on the inside I imagine that the garden was all that it was said to be but unfortunately, I didn’t get a peak.
We ordered a bottle of wine first. We ordered a sauvignon blanc from Italy which was just amazing. Toby kept saying it smelled like those fruits one might find in Chinatown called durian. Which I hear smells kinda stinky but has the most amazing fruity taste. Our wine was kind of like that and while I know that the description might make it sound awful, we really enjoyed it and would buy it again if we manage to find it.
For our first course I ordered the marinated shitake, avocado and pickled ginger sushi rolls, sesame, dulse and wasabi and Toby ordered the fennel, rosemary and cashew cheese tart with blood orange and pinot blanc dressing. Both plates were scraped clean.
Our second course consisted of the xucchini and golden tomato lasagna with basil-pistachio pesto sun-dried tomato sauce and pignoli ricotta and the white corn tamale with raw cacoa mole marinated mushrooms an davocado-cilantro salsa. The tamales sported some of the most amazing flavors I have ever put in my mouth. That dish was amazing. I almost didn’t order is as I never mix my sweet with savory but the waitress (who went far beyond accommodating) insisted we try it. And I am so glad that we did.
Our night was expensive but we had the most romantic meal and found ourselves desperately trying to avoid the typical ‘vegetarian’ food conversation one always seems to overhear while eating at a vegetarian restaurant. Toby Joe as mentioned many times, “You don’t hear the patrons at a steak house discussing why they eat steak and where their best steak was. But at a vegetarian restaurant the snobbery runs rampant.” We fought that stereotype tooth and nail. But that became downright impossible once we go to the the dessert.
We ordered the Dark chocolate layer cake with milk chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream and the peach cobbler with vanilla and lavender iced cream (which them make on the premises). In the end, the waitress brought us their latest and most recent creation that I have no real way of explaining but ended up being our favorite one.
It was our night of debauchery. We arrived at 7:00 PM and by 9:30 PM we were stuffed to the gills in some of the best most thoughtful, well-displayed, tasteful food I’ve ever eaten. And like many New York City restaurants who want you to eat and get out, it was insisted we take our time. (When you’re paying that much on a meal, that’s the only way it should be.) But if you’re not in the mood for a two+ hour affair, you can try their juice bar around the corner where you can get a lot of their desserts as well as the smaller items on the menu.
While it may seem as if I’m speaking entirely in superlatives, something I hate, I mean them all. So don’t knock the ‘raw’ food concept until you’ve tried it. Rest assured, you’re missing out on something artful.