I went to see the High Line a few weeks ago (yawn) and stumbled into the Chelsea Market for the first time ever. The space is crazy; I'm going to have to do some research to figure out what it is because it looks like a renovated subway tunnel in a really cool & polished way. I don't know how to describe the collective establishments inside, though. Giant food court? (Non-vegan) cupcake overload? I mean seriously, how many cupcakes can non-vegans eat? On the healthier side, I should mention that there was a produce/spice/bulk market with the most incredible vegetables I've seen in the tri-state area. Great assortment and everything was fresh and reasonably priced; if I wasn't leaving for Portland in two days I would have stocked up. As it was I couldn't resist some cranberry beans from a youth farmstand on 9th...and was cramming them down the night before my flight.
But back to the matter at hand. Other than the produce market, I didn't see much vegan-friendliness in the Chelsea Market-- and the place is predominantly food. As a vegan, the only option seemed to be the T-Salon which I had read about on Supervegan. And T-Salon should thank them profusely because it it weren't for them I wouldn't have even bothered going in to check; they don't exactly advertise their vegan options. Which is a shame because with all of their vegan dessert offerings they should have a flashing "Welcome Vegans" sign. But, heaven forbid we scare away "normal" people with the frightening word. Instead we all seem to find these things through the Vegan Underground...tee hee.
The goal of the T salon seems to be to provide a calm oasis in the otherwise bustling Chelsea Market. This begins and ends with the meditative music.
The bad: the staff is horrendous- generally unpleasant, rude, curt, etc. They act like it is a chore to assist you and try their hardest to make you feel moronic. Also, there's lots of food, but the tables and chairs are not really conducive to eating. Worse, market shoppers with unruly, obnoxious children seem to think it's ok to utilize the seating area as a jungle gym, complete with ear-piercing shrieking. I should also note that there is only one tea menu (a binder), so if someone takes it to their table you're left to search for it on your own while the person behind the counter yells to no one in particular that "The menu is supposed to be looked at AT THE COUNTER!"
The good: lots and lots of Vegan Treats offerings (4 cookie choices, 5 cakes). After many eye rolls and exasperated sighs, the counterperson explained that ALL of the desserts were from Vegan Treats except for the red velvet cake. I should note that there (presumably) was a sign to this effect, but it had curled over in its holder. She could have simply propped up the sign, but then she wouldn't have had the pleasure of being a meanie.
Of course I had a VT lemon poppyseed cookie and three slices of VT cake: pumpkin cheesecake, raspberry cheesecake, and a chocolate bundt that the server told me was something that Vegan Treats "makes special for them". It was nowhere near as good as everything else VT, so I'm beginning to wonder what exactly is so special about them? Now that I think about it, it's more likely that the girl was annoyed at me for my vegan inquisitiveness and served me an egg-laden bundt. Ugh.
I did also tried the red velvet cake, which I suspect might be from Red Mango (per SuperVegan). The vegetarian I was with said it was the real deal and I found it surprisingly delicious since I don't usually go out of my way for red velvet, having never had the "regular" version. Red Mango, if it is yours you should make sure they share the info with the customers because you have turned me into a red velvet fan. *UPDATE* Red Mango has kindly confirmed that T-Salon does indeed carry their out-of-this-world red velvet cake. I urge everyone to try this and anything else from a bakery that can master the elusive red velvet!
So, overall, the service was very bad, but they have awesome vegan goodies! Other than that I didn't notice any vegan options in the actual food area (where everything looked pretty petrified). My advice: grab your (confirmed) Vegan Treats goodies and scram.
Update: the T-Salon is now closed.