December 13, 2011 Pure Food and Wine: New York City, NY
You probably have a beloved friend who can’t stop making snarky comments about the deprivations vegetarians face. If you truly love this person, and you have some cash to spare, take them to Pure Food and Wine in Gramercy Park. (Tell your friend afterward that the food is vegan + raw, and see if she believes you.)
I went with two beloved friends — neither of them snarky — and Pure amazed from start to finish as we sat in the middle of the womb-like red dining room.
We started with a bowl of the house-cured olives, a dish that would be a throwaway at a lesser restaurant. Citrus and fennel made the olives here interesting, even addictive.
Our entrees arrived very quickly. Since the food is raw, I imagine that most of it is prepared ahead of time and assembled very quickly. One of my friends had the spanakopita. The texture of the fake phyllo pastry was pleasing, and the almond feta and cucumber yogurt were remarkable for being dairy-free.
My other friend ordered the sweet corn and cashew tamales with chili spiced portabella. We all agreed that this was the best looking, best tasting dish of the night. Mole, the Mexican chocolate-based sauce, is generally made with chicken stock, so I rarely get to have it. I’d put Pure’s dark, rich mole up against more traditional ones in my hometown of Austin, which takes Mexican food pretty seriously. The corn and cashew filling inside the corn husk had a satisfying texture, and, as with the spanakopita, the dairy sauce (cashew coconut sour cream in this dish) was fabulous.
My dish, Pad Thai with kelp noodles and baby bok choy, was very tasty. The noodles were firm, with no overtly kelp flavor, and the dish overall had a bright tamarind flavor.
On to dessert – we ordered the chocolate semifreddo. The tartness of the accompanying passionfruit sorbet complemented the richness of the chocolate. It went quickly.
One of my friends would have liked a coffee, which Pure doesn’t serve. But there are plenty of coffee places down the street. Very few places serve vegan, raw food of this caliber. I can’t wait to round up some snarky friends and show them how astonishing and great vegetarian food can be.