Restaurant Review: Candle 79

Finally! The one spot I’ve been dying to go to!

I just have to tell you all how LUCKY I am to A.) live in New York City, B.) happen to be vegan in the most vegan-friendly city in the world, C.) have an incredible uncle who offers to take his niece out to dinner and try out her wacky food choices on his one night in town.

I received a text message from my uncle Dan at about 3pm on Tuesday afternoon; I was riding the subway downtown 4 hours later. It turned out Dan was in town from Boston for a night on business and he wanted to meet up for dinner! He so generously kept my veganism in mind, asked a few co-workers where a good place was, and settled on Candle 79 on the Upper East Side.

So, how did he know that this was the single vegan eatery I was most anxious to try? How did he know to take me to the number 1 vegetarian restaurant in all of New York City? And HOW did he know that we would be seated on the upper level…directly next to Anne Hathaway and her family!? (true story. Not that I’m a name-dropper, or anything.)

No idea.

We arrived a bit early for our 8:15 reservations, so we sat at the bar and had time to catch up. I happily watched the bartender serve up two, frothy Coconut-Mint Frappes made with avocado, coconut water, agave, mint, lime, and topped off with a dollop of chia seed pudding, and couldn’t help but laugh to see two onlookers {presumably not vegan, or familiar with C79} watch in confused amazement.

As mentioned earlier, we were seated at a lovely table at the far corner on the upper level over-looking Lexington Avenue. However, our attention was turned slightly away from the view of street as we both realized that Anne Hathaway herself, or how I knew her growing up, Her Royal Highness, Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, Crown Princess of Genovia, was a mere table away.

Technically, visually speaking, our tables were practically touching. My uncle could have potentially picked up her water glass, thinking it was his own. One could even argue that the waiter considered us all to be of one party. I mean, what’s a couple of inches separating innocent vegan diners from enjoying an exquisite meal together?

Okay, I’ve convinced myself. The new story is, Annie and I shared vegan tips and tricks-of-the-trade over fresh cranberry cornbread and crisp champagne. Done.

Back to the meal!

Now, having dined at Candle Cafe-ahem-three times (around the corner on 75th & 3rd), I already knew how mind-blowing its upper-scale older sister would be. So, just to clear things up, this is less of a restaurant review and more of a me-gushing-about-each-bite-in-an-obsessive-compulsive-obnoxious-type-of-behavior sort of post.

{Cranberry Cornbread, compliments of the chef}

Lucky for me, Dan was NOT shy at all about trying out gourmet vegan food. He made quite the endearing slip-up, informing the waiter of a shellfish allergy, only to be reminded and reassured that he was dining in an entirely vegan restaurant, i.e, no animal products or by-products.

In his defense, the menu did feature king oyster mushrooms, and he had only perused the menu for a mere second. It’s okay, Dan. You made up for it by ordering some pretty fabulous dishes, wouldn’t you say?

Vegetable Nori Rolls-pickled ginger, avocado wasabi, chipotle aioli, tamari-ginger sauce

Spinach Ravioli artichoke-vegetable cheese, sautéed broccoli rabe, garlic, truffled tomato sauce, cashew cheese

{that was easy.}

Next up, salads and entrees!

Having been so poorly deprived of my favorite vegetable while away at school, I naturally selected the Brussels Sprout Saladroasted parsnips, turnips, jerusalem artichokes, baby carrots, garlic-rosemary dressing

Every bite was better than the last!

Dan went with an entrée and the house salad.

House Salad- baby arugula, grape tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, hemp seeds,tahini dressing

Wild Mushroom-Squash Risotto cashew cream, pumpkin seeds, fresh herbs, frizzled leeks

Dan loved his meal, and kindly offered me the remainder of his risotto; it was beyond delicious.

With little room left to spare, we finished the night off with coffee and an ice-cream & sorbet trio.

{mocha, pineapple, chocolate}

This was the perfect dessert-light, refreshing, and very convincing to two Wisconsin natives who’ve had their fair share of real ice cream.

I asked Dan to snap a photo of me so that my readers aren’t completely left in the dark…

But I think the combination of excitement over the meal and Annie humming a tune over at the next table got to him.

One more try!


Dan and I truly had the best time. On our way out, we even got to chat with Margaret, Candle 79’s adorable manager. We agreed that, when asked which food item is best, one usually just ends up citing the entire menu.

We parted ways on the corner of Lexington and made the promise to meet up for an amazing meal each time Dan visits New York. Next time, we hope to slurp green smoothies with George Clooney…or nosh on vegan burgers with Ellen DeGeneres. We’ll see.

This entry was published on March 9, 2012 at 5:00 am and is filed under restaurant reviews, vegan. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Restaurant Review: Candle 79

  1. Uncle Dan on said:

    Wow!!! Sounds like an unbelievable time and an unbelievable meal! Who is this Uncle Dan??!

    Ha!…It’s me Callie and great job capturing the spirit and highlights of this really cool restaurant. Super fun night and keep up the great work with the blog!

    I bet George Clooney is trying to arrange his schedule right now to figure out the next time we head out for dinner!…..


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