The typical vegetarian restaurant is a depressing place, spartan, brightly lit, with erratic service. Just the opposite, Candle 79 offers several cozy booths, soft lighting, a varied wine and cocktail list and knowledgeable attentive service.
The menu shows care in offering interesting menu choices for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, including pasta and risotto for the unadventurous, plenty of tempeh (fermented soy beans) and seitan (made from wheat gluten) for the die-hard vegetarian and numerous seasonal ingredients. My friend and I decided to be bold; she had a quinoa-crusted tempeh served in rectangles towered diagonally on a bed of cubed sweet potato, and I had cumin and pumpkin-crusted seitan with a spicy kick tempered by slightly sweet yellow rice.
Salads contain much more than the typical mixed greens and vinaigrette dressing. We chose a salad with quinoa, sweet potatoes, avocado and not cranberries, but cranberry beans, a wonderful medley of flavors and both crunchy and soft textures.
I was skeptical about the desserts. The ice creams are made from soy and have weird-sounding ingredients and combinations. Unexpectedly, I enjoyed the creamy “peanut butter and jelly” with an authentic peanut butter flavor and a rich berry jam and the watermelon mint, which tasted like eating a bite of a freshly-picked mint sprig. However, I found the carrot cake ice cream too chunky in texture.
The restaurant had a wide selection of caffeinated and decaffeinated teas. In an ordinary vegetarian restaurant you are lucky if the server remembers to bring your tea. At Candle 79 when we asked about an unusual tea our server brought us some tea leaves to sniff. I normally like the satisfaction of eating healthily in a vegetarian restaurant; this time I loved the satisfaction of eating healthily without giving up comfort and coddling.
154 E 79th St