Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Peacefood Cafe

We approached this visit to Peacefood cafe with a gameplan.  Knowing that their timing can be a little off, we decided to order smarter-- one course at a time-- in an attempt to self-regulate the normally erratic timing of the food delivery.  Despite our best efforts and the fact that the cafe was not bursting at the seams per usual, the odd food delivery order persisted.  Still, fun and good eats were had by all. 

It was oppressively hot, so we started by ordering watermelon summer coolers.  You'll find it listed under the smoothie section of the menu, but it's not necessarily a smoothie; it's a refreshing drink made of watermelon juice, mint, agave, and ice...that inexplicably takes twenty minutes to prepare.  Order yours with a side of ice cubes on particularly hot days to increase the chill factor tenfold. 

In line with our ordering strategy, once our drinks arrived we ordered appetizers only: fries, a biscuit, and tempura.  Then one of the owners kindly popped by our table to welcome us, make a few suggestions, and to assure us that we could take our time to enjoy a leisurely meal.  Yes, we greatly appreciate the laid back speed, sir; it's the non-sensical preparation order that we can't figure out!

The first appetizer to grace our table was one that we love: the always delicious chickpea fries, served with the cooling house dipping sauceSimultaneously chewing and pondering their scrumptiousness, we realized that the reason they differ so drastically from our other favorites at Candle 79 is because the ones at C79 are polenta fries.  Can't fool us.

Next to arrive was the savory biscuit that we ordered for no reason other than it's delicious and hard to pass up regardless of what meal you're enjoying at Peacefood.  Filled with Daiya and a ton of roasted vegetables, this is a must have; make sure to ask them to heat it for you in the oven to combat microwave-induced mushiness (then cross your fingers that they'll comply).

With one appetizer still outstanding, our friendly waitress offered to take our lunch order.  We hesitantly ordered a sandwich, the raw entree, and a side to share.  So, can you guess what came out next?  No, not our final appetizer, but instead- inexplicably- the side that was intended to accompany our meal.

Bad timing notwith- standing, the potato salad is a generously sized and yummy plate.  Since sandwiches are served with pickled veggies instead of the requisite potato fries or chips, it's a nice, potatoey addition...were it to actually accompany said sandwich. 

Next up was the final appetizer: the vegetable tempura.  Although this dish is listed as a side, it is so GIGANTIC that it should come with a warning.  Seriously, I'm no pansy eater and this dish is a formidable meal.  Broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes, and what I think was Japanese pumpkin (yum!) all in a startlingly authentic tempura batter.  Served with just enough of their minced daikon, ginger & mustard soy sauce, this is fantastic, but filling: a must-share.  Even split between two people you still know you shouldn't eat the whole thing, but you can't help it.

As soon as we were finished with the last crumb of tempura the first lunch dish arrived, VM's tahini sprouts sandwich filled with sprouts, avocado, cucumbers, onions, carrots and poppyseed miso tahini spread on fresh whole spelt rye.  Tasting as fresh as it looked, this sandwich was far superior to the tempeh avocado sandwich I had on the previous visit and the bread was much better un-toasted.

I anxiously awaited the arrival of my dish, picking at the potato salad that had been languishing on our table for some time now.  I waited and waited, and waited.  And then it seemed to be coming!  But no, it was the same dish being delivered to the table behind me whose companion's dish had yet to appear (!?); le sigh.

Eventually it arrived, my raw sushi roll.  I don't follow a raw diet (obviously), but I had previously spied this on another diner's table and wanted to give it a try because it looked so appetizing.  I swear, though, that his dish was served in a completely different manner than mine; but, perhaps I am mistaken.  In any event, the circumferance of these rolls is HUGE; it's no small feat fitting one into your mouth and then you're committed.  I say this because the first roll had me questioning my selection: the combination of the walnut pate with the bitter sprouts and extremely "fishy" nori was a little startling.  But I gave it a fair shot and, with plenty of sauce, was able to enjoy my meal.  While I personally wouldn't order it again, there's no question that it is a hearty menu choice.

Much to my dismay, the gigantoid serving of tempura combined with the unusual sushi made it impossible for me to consider dessert.  Not to be completely deterred, we decided to bring home two of our Peacefood favorites.

As I've said before, the chocolate dipped macaroon is a standout.  While it's almondy taste isn't necessarily traditional, I really like it; it's kind of a cross between a macaroon and a pignoli cookie minus the pignolis (and cookie).  Also, the coating gets considerably toasty in a very good way.  Another bonus is that it lives happily in your fridge until you're ready to enjoy it.

The chocolate chip cookie sandwich, however, does not seem to fare so well with passing days.  Extraordinary when fresh, this cookie sammie clearly was not meant to be cooped up for an overnight until you decide to eat it at your whim.  Insulted, it revolts: becoming a sad, mushy, almost entirely unrecognizable ghost of its former glory.  My bad, cookie sammie; I'll make it up to you next time by eating you promptly no matter how full I am! 

Oh yes, there was one other sweet that missed being photographed: the never before seen magic cookie.  Filled with an unusual assortment of coconut, nuts, carrot, and the darkest chocolate chips I've every tasted; it was a happy surprise.

I like all kinds of vegan joints and Peacefood is high on my list.  However, they clearly have the capacity to do better.  Their location offers them practically no vegan competition, the food is delicious, the servers are pleasant, the restaurant is inviting; how hard can it be to get the food out in a sensible order?  They are always obviously busy with eat-in clientele, take-out orders, etc., and they consistently seem to be well staffed, so I can't help but wonder why they can't seem to get their act together?  It seems like it's not a big deal, but it kinda is--  especially since this isn't the hardest part to get right!  They've been open (and busy) long enough that the disarray is no longer forgivably cute, but bordering on flaky and annoying.  Come on, guys.

Oh, and also: lighten up on the cilantro.  Sheesh.


  1. I can't believe I didn't know of this place when I lived in NYC...it looks incredible!

    How long has it been open?

  2. I want to say a year? Maybe a little longer. Nice to have some veganity on the west side of the park where C79 seems so very far away :-)


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