Monday, October 18, 2010

We Heart Candle 79

We generally reserve Candle 79 for special occasions, but since we're uptown so infrequently, it's hard not to take every such opportunity to visit a restaurant where you're practically guaranteed an incredible experience.  So, the other day when we found ourselves facing the dilemma: pop into C79 without a reservation or go somewhere else...we quickly decided to pop in and take our chances.

Although they had just opened, the dining area was filling up quickly and we could overhear the hostess saying that many of the still open tables were reserved.  When it was our turn, it was explained to us that there was a table for two available, but we would have to be out in an hour and a half.  Hmm, enjoy a less leisurely meal than usual or go somewhere else?  Enjoy!

Since we usually can't resist over-indulge and order soup to nuts, VM suggested that in light of the time constraint, perhaps we should just order one giant meal rather than courses.  It was genius.

Per usual, the bonus amuse bouche.  Presented with a flowery description of which I only retained the key words: tomato, rice cracker, and pureed potato; I was afraid.  Pureed potato?  If I pureed a potato it would taste like, um, pureed potato.  VM ate hers and gave me the go ahead.  I should have known; in C79 land pureed potato tastes like a delectable spread of unknown, vegan origin.

It's been years since I'd had them and VM is a huge fan, so without hesitation we chose a side dish of the onion rings with chipotle aioli.  Giant rings of thick onion battered in a crisp, but not greasy coating; these were only enhanced by the delicious dipping sauce.

Next up was a side dish of the you-cannot-go-to-C79-and-not-order the polenta fries with chipotle ketchup.  These never disappoint!  I have literally never been to Candle 79 and not ordered these.

I was surprised that the roasted brussel sprouts were not crisped to perfection the way VM makes them, but were instead rather soft and buttery.  Luckily you can't really go wrong with brussel sprouts and we gobbled them all up anyway.  The creamy garlic cloves that melted in your mouth didn't hurt either.

For the main dish we agreed upon the Moroccan spiced chickpea cake with seasonal vegetables, red pepper-coconut curry, ginger-apricot-date chutney, and toasted almonds.  The cake is the same one that resides in their falafel sandwich, but the dinner version is served upon a coiffed bed of potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and onions.  Both the curry and the chutney (which tasted like tamarind to me) really made the meal. 

And, finally, you'll be happy to know that we also chose the grilled kale salad with haricots verts, [fresh!] figs, red onions, turnips, avocado, sunflower seeds, speltberries, and chive vinaigrette.  I'm not one to order salad at a restaurant, but Candle 79 does it up right.  There must be a more appropriate word for these "salad" concoctions they come up with, because to consider them in the same category as the standard iceberg and tomato plate is an injustice.

While I would have liked to have squeezed in dessert, our time was up.  Our polite waiter, Eliot, didn't point it out but we had kept an eye on our watches.  Glad to have had the opportunity to enjoy this fine dining unexpectedly, we certainly didn't want the diners who had had the forethought to make a reservation to suffer as a result of our gluttony.  Instead, we headed over to Candle Cafe for dessert.  Thank you for another wonderful evening, Candle 79.


  1. I love, love, love Candle79! (even my omni husband loves it) The polenta fries...I can never resist!

  2. Oh my, amazing! My biggest regret in my trip to NYC is that I didn't get out to Candle 79.

  3. Someday I've got to go there. Looks like you didn't leave hungry. :D


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