RESTAURANT REVIEW: DIRT CANDY

Eating Fabulously, Christopher Stewart, Dirt Candy, Dirt Candy restaurant review, Amanda Cohen, vegetables,

I hope you like vegetables. 
Eating Fabulously, Christopher Stewart, Dirt Candy, Dirt Candy restaurant review, Amanda Cohen, vegetables,

Actually I hope you LOVE vegetables. Enter Dirt Candy, an all vegetable restaurant located on Allen street near ChinaTown here in NYC. All vegetables you say? No meat in sight? Not a drop of meat actually and that's exactly what as Chef/owner Amanda Cohen planned for. 

It's 1st location on the East side only had 18 seats but grabbed 2 stars from The NY Times. At the new and slightly larger location, Chef Cohen is packing in diners nightly and breaking industry rules by banning tipping. I grabbed a table for 3 to celebrate a close friends birthday and also to grab a plate of carrot sliders. Yes you read right, CARROT SLIDERS. Everything on all of the menus, including the cocktails and desserts are all made from vegetables. Let that sink in. 


Although I love vegetables I'm also an avid meat eater. How can anyone put vegetables in literally everything and make it actually taste good? Well after scrapping our plates and ordering a 2nd round of jalapeño hush puppies I know why it takes almost 2 months to get a reservation at this restaurant. Here's what we dined on:

Sparkling Rose 
Jalapeño hush puppies x maple butter 
Mushroom x portobello mousse, asian pear, cherries, truffle toast
Fennel x raw & pickled fennel x caramelized yogurt, carta di musica
Potato x olives, bitter greens, crispy Japanese yams 
Carrot Sliders x special sauce, carrot sesame seed bun
Rutabaga x ginger cake, mustard tuile, smoked cream cheese 
Kale x kale matzoh ball soup, poached egg, okra

Corn Cake x popcorn ice cream
Onion Chocolate Tart x smoked almond ice cream
Vegetable ice cream salad  (seasonal) 


Eating Fabulously, Christopher Stewart, Dirt Candy, Dirt Candy restaurant review, Amanda Cohen, vegetables,
Foragers Salad 
Can I just say vegetables are amazingly delicious! From the beginning of the meal with house made vegetable bread (served in an adorable flower pot) dish after dish was phenomenal. Its hard to believe that each dish is made from a vegetable, but as you bite into a carrot slider with special sauce on a carrot sesame seed bun, you're quickly like McDonalds who?!?!? I don't know who that is.  

The mushroom dish was easily a table favorite as we followed the servers orders and smeared the portobello mousse, sautéed Asian pear, and cherries on top of our truffled toast. As we began breathing through our noses because we were so full of fantastic vegetables, it was time for dessert. Now I know vegetables and dessert never mix but the chocolate onion tart was so rich and decadent that it is the perfect solution for laying on the couch after a very very bad day. The vegetable ice cream salad was so unique that I didn't even mind the fact that ice cream and vegetables decided to hook up one night and create this dish. 

I immediately knew I needed to shout this restaurant from the roof top. With so many meat centric restaurants making mediocre food, Dirt Candy's only focus is on vegetables and to make them as delicious as possible. Its really simple, go dine at Dirt Candy. It's a very much needed and fabulous dining experience in the city that never sleeps.  I also had a chance to catch up with Chef Cohen and chat fabulously about vegetables, tipping and her picks for a no fail meal. 


Eating Fabulously, Christopher Stewart, Dirt Candy, Dirt Candy restaurant review, Amanda Cohen, vegetables,
Chef Amanda Cohen 

1. Why an all vegetable restaurant?
Chef Amanda Cohen - There are thousands of steak restaurants, hundreds of seafood restaurants, but nowhere in North America is there a single restaurant devoted to cooking vegetables. Except Dirt Candy. Vegetables are under-valued and under-appreciated by most chefs, so that makes this a wide open playground where I can explore without any rules or restrictions. Every day I learn that vegetables can do so much more than anyone expected, every day I realize just how flexible and fun they are. I wouldn't want to cook anything else.

2. What made you eliminate tipping?
AC - When I was opening the bigger space I wanted to pay my back-of-house staff better (wages in this industry for BOH are immorally low) but to do that I needed to eliminate tipping. I also feel that tipping is a con game: it's a way that restaurant owners trick their customers into thinking their prices are lower than they really are. In reality, every restaurant that has tipping has a 20% surcharge on top of its menu prices. They just disguise it as a tip. My job is to take care of my employees and please my customers, not to abuse my employees and trick my customers. So tipping had to go.

3. Where do you go for a no fail meal?
AC -
There are a few places: for something fancy on the LES I go to Fung Tu. If I want something straightforward, I head over to Waterfront Ale House which is a great bar in Kip's Bay. For an elegant meal for the people who love food in my life (and have a healthy wallet) I head to Agern in Grand Central Station.

4. What's your favorite food guilty pleasure?
AC- I don't feel guilty about anything I eat.


DIRT CANDY 
86 Allen Street (btwn Grand & Broome) 
New York, N.Y. 10002 
212.228.7732 
Website | Instagram 


*** menu changes seasonally and reservations are scarce so be sure to call ahead! ***

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