Recently, it seems that my opportunities to dine out have become more and more rare. Even though I haven’t been there for terribly long, it seems the more time I spend working at a restaurant, the more often I want to come straight home to my kitchen/laboratory to come up with something inspired. I find the beautiful, high-quality ingredients I get to use on a daily basis for my handicraft tremendously inspiring. However, whenever it’s time for me to catch up with a friend over lunch or spend a relaxing evening out post-yoga, there are a handful of places that I can always count on to keep me coming back again and again.
I first visited Candle Cafe on the Upper West Side shortly after their grand opening this spring. I adore Candle 79 for special occasions, and while my personal experiences at Candle Cafe East have been less than stellar, mostly related to the service, I was really glad to have another potentially awesome vegan dining destination convenient to my apartment and usual stomping grounds. Candle West has turned out to be my favorite of the three!
Inside, the decor is similar to Candle 79- lots of earth tones and elegant-but, with a special golden touch:
Typically, I have visited during weekday lunch hours when there is lots of light coming through the big front windows, but I’ve also enjoyed a few dinners in the evening as well. Service is always fantastic, and I always find that I am pleasantly surprised at how quickly my food comes out.
One thing I look forward to most at Candle West is the amazing texture and flavor of their tofu and tempeh. Whoever is back there on the soy protein station is a real genius. Case in point:
The chipotle tofu is served with a quinoa pilaf, sautéed greens, black bean sauce, and topped off with an avocado mango salad. The chipotle rub on the tofu is really delicious, and it’s something I’ve enjoyed recreating at home. When craving something hearty that won’t sit too heavily, this is a great dish to order.
Another favorite, also from the gluten-free menu is the mole tempeh. I believe it is currently being served with roasted fingerling potatoes, but at the time I ordered it, there were whipped sweet potatoes. Accompanied with sautéed greens and an avocado salad, the mole sauce on the tempeh is the perfect balance of chocolatey sweet with a kick.
Although they are not part of the gluten-free menu, I’ve also enjoyed the seaweed soba noodle salad, the grilled kale salad (grilled greens=true love), and the awesome cajun seitan sandwich.
One of the best dessert-y things I’ve had
lately ever is their mocha maca latte. Holy smokes. I want one everyday. Coffee, chocolate, maca, and coconut…all in one glass! This smoothie reminds me of the insanely delicious milkshakes served at Chicago Diner, and it might just win. I’d have to do a side by side comparison. Nah, that’s just an excuse to drink two milkshakes.
If you haven’t had the chance to try out the latest Candle installment on the Upper West Side, be sure to stop by for a wonderful experience with seasonal and organic vegan cuisine!