Candle 79 is an upscale vegan restaurant located in NYC”s Upper East Side. (As a side note, Candle 79 has a sister restaurant, Candle Cafe, which is only a few blocks away. Naturally, my dinner companion and I went to different locations. No worries – we regrouped quickly and still made our reservation 🙂

The NY Times says of Candle 79: “pleasurable and largely satisfying, leaving an omnivorous interloper with a sense not of deprivation but of relief.” I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant for over 3 years, often hearing it referred to as the best vegetarian meal you can have. Its pricey and therefore hard to sell someone on accompanying me – but last night, I was finally successful and was able to enjoy a 3 course dinner at Candle 79.

Our meal started with an amuse bouche (small bite before the meal begins AND in my world the first course): grilled vegetables drizzled with horseradish cream. amuse bucheSince a vegan restaurant can’t use animal products, I would guess the “cream” was tahini cut with the acidity of a lemon. There wasn’t anything spectacular about this bite – if you’ve had grilled veggies at any point over the summer than you pretty much know what this tastes like.

Next up was my appetizer, soup of the day: black bean with fresh avocado and tomatoessoup2It doesn’t look too appetizing, huh? It was pretty good. I loved how it wasn’t too heavy which a black bean soup can easily become and it wasn’t too watery which the cafeteria at my work is excellent at doing to a black bean soup. I give them credit for the flavor consistency, but in the spirit of full disclosure, the soup was luke warm!

For the main course, I went with a Seaweed Salad: carrots, cabbage, grilled shiitake mushrooms, edamame, radishes, wasabi leaves, miso-ginger dressing (on the side) and added tempeh

saladMy salad was PERFECTO. Candle 79 got the tempeh just right. Tempeh isn’t as popular as its counterpart tofu, but its also soy, that is then is fermented into a cake, and has a texture that I love. The tempeh dipped into the miso dressing was my idea of delicious. But, I understand that it’s not for everyone. The salad was very much like its description: healthy and fresh.

Cydnee, my agreeable dining buddy, decided to give the seitan a try: Caribbean Jerk Grilled Seitan with brown ale black bean sauce, sautéed collard greens, caramelized onions, plantains, mango-papaya salsa, jalapeño-cilantro coulis

cydSeitan, unlike soy and tempeh, is made from the gluten of wheat and is protein replacement for vegans and vegetarians. Um, its chewy. Not my favorite, but I’m glad I got to try it at a place that professionally prepares it. The dish had a lot of great flavors, but its still hard to disguise the chewy texture of seitan. To each his own! I like the texture of tempeh, and some might hate it.


In summary:

  • Healthy Options: 5 out of 5. It’s their claim to fame.
  • Food: 3.5 out of 5. Nothing was shockingly delicious.
  • Service: 3.5 out of 5. Our waiter forgot about us sometime between the soup and the entree.
  • Seating: 5 out of 5. We got lucky – spacious table next to the window, comfortable chairs. Very homey.
  • Ambiance: 4 out of 5. Cozy, romantic. Candlelight…
  • Price: 3 out of 5. Really expensive for what you get. My salad was $18!

Does anyone have a vegan or vegetarian recommendation for me to try next?