Dirt Candy

IMG_1466This blink of a space in Alphabet City  will make even the most steadfast carnivore seriously consider defecting to vegetarianism. Love this place.

At most it seats 12, which is why reservations are essential and those are best made 2 months out. Despite its small size and minimalist interior, it shuns sterility and claustrophobic overtones. Inviting, intimate, celebratory.

Excellent. Our 4-top ordered all of the appetizers and entrees in a culinary blitz . With two lifelong vegetarians at the table I was thrilled to hear applause in the form of minimal conversation and excessive ooh-ahh. The menu in front of us was slightly smaller and different than the menu online; in the end it mattered not.

I won’t cover the 9 dishes we consumed but the highlights for me were …

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Jalapeno Hushpuppies: 
Be warned – do not eat too many of these super dense but flavorful nuggets, they will prevent further consumption. I loved the spicy jalapeno flavours combined with the accompanying lightly sweet maple butter.

Portobello Mousse: 
Portobello mushroom crafted into a dense flavor-popping mousse with the texture of pate, served with sauteed portobellos, truffled crisps and a peach compote. A surprisingly rich app which could easily make a light meal. Good balance of fruit and savory with truffle adding depth and complexity.

Smoked Broccoli Dog
My favourite. The broccoli spears had been smoked in what tasted like hickory wood. Served in a “bun” with broccoli-kraut and broccoli rabe that was crispy, salty and vinegar-y. I liked the flavor play – smoky, salty, vinegar-y. I liked the textures – crunchy, chewy, soft.

The potato dish and the tofu dish featured in the photos were also good. We finished the mousse before I could snap one off.

Solid. Infectiously upbeat. Knowledgeable. We were each asked about food restrictions and preferences, obvious inference that meals here can be highly tailored to accommodate individual needs.

High but not ridiculously so. 4 apps, 4 entrees, 4 drinks, 1 dessert – $75 a head.

A Dirt Candy redux is on the radar but in the meantime I will ooh-ahh at the cookbook I picked up at the restaurant and maybe, just maybe, I will try to recreate the smoked broccoli dog at home.

Sucky photos courtesy of my dirty-lensed iPhone, dark lighting and too many glasses of wine. You’re welcome!

Dinner: 28 Sept 2013

Dirt Candy | 430 E 9th St | NYC 10009

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