We recently visited Quintessence in East Village for a raw, vegan brunch before wandering over to the Union Square Holiday Market. It was one of those days where it was chilly and mostly overcast, but the sun would occasionally make an appearance. As long as you’re well bundled up, those days aren’t bad for long walks.
It’s been over a year since our last visit, and our timing was perfect as they just renovated not too long ago. The restaurant redo brightens the space, while keeping its original charm. I hate to judge a restaurant by its online presence, but the refreshed website just doesn’t do it for me. Sorry guys! The old website wasn’t the most slick, but it was on point for a cute, raw, vegan cafe. That said, let’s just focus on the food, shall we?
Appetizer #1: Mediterranean Nachos ($7). Crunchy garlic rosemary flax crackers topped with hummus, guacamole, guajillo pepper hot sauce, and kalamata olives. That hot sauce gives these raw nachos a wonderful kick, and the combo of hummus and guacamole is so creamy. Crunch, crunch, crunch, and it’s all gone.
Appetizer #2: Enchilada ($7). A golden flax and corn tortilla filled with “refried beans”, cashew cheese, tomato, and lettuce. The “refried beans” consist of bell peppers, onions, brazil nuts, sprouted garbanzo beans, and various fragrant Mexican spices. The mole sauce was delicious, and the light drizzle of coconut sour cream was a nice touch.
John ordered the Fofu Rancheros ($15), the same thing he got last time. Soft corn tortillas topped with their special fofu (“faux tofu”), “refried beans”, mole sauce, guacamole, and the coconut sour cream. The fofu is a mixture of Irish moss, cashews, and sea salt that has a unique gelatin-like consistency. It’s a yummy vegan version of egg whites!
I got the Fofu Benedict ($15) again, which no longer comes with a side salad. Sprouted kamut bread topped with walnut herb sausage, avocado, fofu, vegan hollandaise, and caramelized onions. The walnut sausage was easily my favorite part of this dish. They went a little overboard with the amount of vegan hollandaise here, and it was not as flavorful as I remembered. Maybe needed a little more salt and pepper?
Overall, pretty good if you’re looking for a casual, raw experience. My opinions are only based on their brunch dishes and appetizers though. I think Rockin’ Raw in Greenwich Village may give Quintessence a run for their money, but at least they’re in opposite villages and have a slightly different flavor and flair to their dishes.