Since we’re leaving NYC this summer, we had to do one last visit to Dirt Candy to try a few more of Chef Amanda Cohen’s creations. It hasn’t been that long since our last visit, but this time around, we were seated at the counter with comfy bar stools with a great view of the kitchen. From there, we also got to watch Amanda inspect every dish before they were whisked away by the servers.
Everything at Dirt Candy is vegetarian, but this was the first time that we requested vegan dishes only. The menu is all about celebrating veggies, so most of the menu is vegan to begin with, and with the rest, they just omit or change an ingredient or two to veganize it. It didn’t seem like we were missing out flavor/texture-wise by asking for the vegan versions, but the meal overall felt less rich/heavy. Not necessarily a bad thing.
To start the meal, I got a refreshing cocktail called the Poolside Breeze ($14) with a vibrant green mixture of prosecco, cucumbers, and cilantro. Tasty. John got some IPA ($7). We happily nibbled away on the vegan bread while waiting for the main attractions.
In the past, we’ve ordered heavier small dishes like the hush puppies and fried broccoli, so we tried a salad on this visit. The lilac spinach salad ($9) looks like a beautiful forest wreath. Lilac spinach is delicate green with light flavors. The dehydrated grapefruit and roasted pistachios were nice additions, and I enjoyed the mushrooms hidden among all the greenery.
Next up, the cauliflower ($18) from the “Vegetables” section of the menu. Cauliflower dumplings and curry with green pea paneer, papaya chutney, and a pappadam cracker ring. The curry is a light, fragrant broth that doesn’t overpower the veggies. Hidden under the mountain of rainbow cauliflower, there are the tastiest little dumplings made of pureed cauliflower.
The larger items on the menu, like the brussels sprouts tacos ($30), are perfect for sharing with your date. Instead of tortillas, you use leafy lettuce wrappers to make your veggie-focused tacos. The toppings include smoked avocado, pickled red onion, radishes, tortilla strips, pickled jalapenos, and salsa verde. (I believe the non-vegan version includes cotija cheese.)
The brussels sprouts are served on a sizzling stone platter that stays hot throughout your meal. When we got to the bottom of the brussels sprouts pile, we fought over the charred, crispy bits. Gotta scrape those off the stone. It’s pretty fun to assemble the tacos yourself, and the mini tacos are so darn cute and photogenic.
John and I got a little greedy and decided to order two desserts. Dirt Candy is all about using one veggie multiple ways within a single dish. In the onion chocolate tart ($13), there’s caramelized, dehydrated, and candied onion. Works so well with the chocolate. The chocolate tart is so rich and smooth… and it’s vegan! The smoked almond ice cream is a nice complement to the onion and chocolate.
Our other dessert, the vegetable ice cream salad ($10), had much lighter, refreshing flavors. What a beauty! Lettuce sorbet, cucumber sorbet, yellow beet ice cream, and grilled radicchio ice cream with walnut cake croutons, maraschino grapefruit and dill sprinkles. Love the idea of vegetables for dessert, and it was tough to decide which flavor of sorbet/ice cream was my favorite. Get this one for summer!