Monday, August 30, 2010

Candle 79: Great Food, Chill Atmosphere, Top-Notch Staff...and Moby!

Although I don't find myself on the UES very often, Candle 79 is one of my favorite places to go with VM.  While many of our favorite vegan spots are enjoyably casual, we love Candle 79 for being a more upscale choice, and for epitomizing the genre of finer dining by being a wholly class-act, top-notch, vegan dining experience completely without pretense.

Per usual, the impeccable service started when I called to make the reservation.  The hostess was friendly, efficient, and accommodating.  Upon arrival, as promised, we were seated at our favorite table (I'm not telling, lest everyone want it) and, as a bonus, Moby was a mere two tables away.  It was good to be in the company of another vegan of taste and we thanked the hostess for seating us in the "celebrity section".

someone headed to a party
Our waiter, John, was completely delightful from the first words he spoke.  True to Candle 79 form, his service was seamless and seemingly effortless, our dining experience made more enjoyable by his personality and cordial conversation.

VM started off with the cherry mojito: sake, muddled cherries, lime, muddled mint, agave, and sparkling water.  While I enjoy the occasional fruity libation, I stuck with water; if I have one complaint about Candle 79 it's that their drinks simply don't floor me.  As I partake so infrequently, I like to be impressed!  This drink was no exception; I picked out some of the muddled cherries (yum), but the actual concoction was too strong and not sweet enough for my taste.  VM enjoyed, although I don't think she'd order again.  To their credit, John offered to make any necessary adjustments, but VM required only her requisite glass of ice for accompaniment.

The food:
I always look forward to the C79 brunch amuse bouche and this day's was exceptional: chocolate chip muffins!

2 muffins enjoying the view
Fresh from the oven, the chips were still melty!
We decided to share the stuffed avocado salad as an appetizer and it was a stupendous choice.  The freshest, smoothest, creamiest avocado half filled with a mountain of quinoa, corn, french lentils, grape tomatoes, radishes, toasted pumpkin seeds, and chipotle-avocado dressing on a bed of baby greens.  I accidentally cut the avo in half width-wise, and wound up gluttonously eating 2/3 of the salad.  Piggy.

As a huge falafel fan, VM couldn't resist the falafel sandwich: a whole wheat pita filled with Isreali salad (diced tomatoes, crunchy onions, etc.) and minted tahini, served with mesclun greens, and quinoa tabouli.  I don't know what made the patty orange, and the beauty of eating in an all vegan restaurant is that I didn't care!  I really enjoyed this sandwich; yep, I stole half (are you sensing a pattern?).

I ordered VM's selection from a previous visit, the wild mushroom and spring vegetable crepe served with mesclun greens.  As the seasons have changed since the last time we ordered this, so too did the fresh vegetables that overflowed from the delicate, ridiculously authentic crepe drizzled with spring garlic aioli.  VM liked this even more than the first time, and acquiesced to eating ever so slightly more than her usual taste smidgen.

Lest we be entirely too restrained with our healthy ordering, we augmented our meal with a must have: the crispy polenta fries.  Normally served with scrumptious chipotle ketchup, we also ordered creamy horseradish sauce to switch things up.  There wasn't a clear winner so we dipped intermittently (but never mixed).

A new favorite of ours is the brunch offering of yukon gold skillet potatoes, also a great vehicle for the chipotle ketchup.  They seem simple, but they are wonderful in their simplicity and unapologetic potato-y-ness.

We couldn't, in good conscience, leave without dessert.  So, I we decided on the oft-contemplated but never ordered, famous, chocolate-peanut butter bliss: chocolate mousse, peanut butter mousse, chocolate shell, and berry coulis.  Neither VM or I have ever liked mousse in general, but we have decided that this might be an egg thing because it turns out that vegan mousse is good!  So, we dove in with only slight trepidation and were duly impressed.

While VM isn't the chocolate/PB fan that I am, this dessert somehow satisfied both appetites by being just peanut buttery enough, without being overly peanut buttery.  I estimate that I could eat twelve of them at a sitting.

Candle 79 is truly a "nice" place, and the spot for when you're feeling like you want to enjoy an experience that is a cut above on every level.  Food, service, atmosphere: they've got it all covered.


  1. oh cool!i remember you telling me that you were gonna go!
    i can't believe you didn't have an entirely sweet brunch like i did.god.
    also,i find that their cocktails,while delicious,aren't strong enough.
    anyways,why haven't we gone out to eat together??

    p.s today at champs i made a peanut butter chocolate silk pie...just sayin...

  2. I have an excuse, I promise! I went with the intention of having the sweet berry crepe, but it was no longer on the menu.

  3. Wow... these pictures may warrant a trip to NYC!

    What other desserts are on the menu right now?


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