Restaurant Review: Rockin’ Raw

Rockin’ Raw
178 North 8th Street
(between Driggs Avenue and Bedford Avenue)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Vegiboys Rating (3/4)

The day was overcast with the threat of rain, but we decided to brave the elements and walk down for a brunch/lunch at Williamsburg’s vegan Rockin’ Raw. Despite darkening clouds, we couldn’t resist sitting in their beautiful rear garden, with a casual orchard of figs, grapes, and apples growing around us. A smattering of New Orleans-style decay-chic items (an old hutch, a weather-worn fleur-de-lis, Mardis Gras beads strung over an old clothesline) added a ton of character to the space, and with only one other couple in the backyard, we nearly had the spacious garden to ourselves.

The owners, aside from striving for a healthy experience, sought to impress with a Peruvian and Creole-influenced flair for their completely raw food menu. Despite having our eyes originally set on the brunch special (unlimited mimosas or $3 Bloody Mary’s come with any weekend brunch dish), we decided that for our first time, we had to go with some of the more intriguing offerings from the main menu.

Our waitress (friendly, attentive, and helpful) started us with a nicely flavored lemonade, and a magnificently affordable tamarind juice; the tall glasses held out for the entire meal, though our waitress also kept us well stocked with watermelon-infused water. Our appetizers were mock crab cakes with a dill cream sauce. With almond as the base material, the flavor in the crab cakes was largely drawn from sea vegetables, zucchini, and mushrooms, creating a delicious raw interpretation for seafood.

For entreés, Brian fell under the Peruvian influence and took our waitress up on her recommendation of the Tacu-Tacu. It was a mushroom dish on wild rice with jicama, walnuts, sesame seeds, and an amazing spice blend that gave the entire platter a really unique flavor. Softened plantains scooped around the outside of the plate helped to establish its Latin American identity. However, by far the most fascinating element was the “fried egg” topping. Using some dark magic, the Rockin’ Raw kitchen conjured a sunny side up egg from raw vegan ingredients: the taste and texture were spot-on for the real thing, and the appearance was cartoonish but absolutely mesmerizing. We have no idea how they made it or what skills are required for its creation, but props to the edible artistry of the egg’s inventor.

For my entreé, I followed the New Orleans route with a king oyster mushroom po’ boy sandwich, served with a salad of shredded greens and riced cauliflower. I appreciated the creative attempt, but the vinegar in the dish was unfortunately overpowering. If a greater variety of tastes were present, the bitterness in a single element may have been tolerable, but the entire dish was infused with overwhelming astringency. Their jalapeño purple cornbread was a welcome add-on side dish for cutting the vinegar, and the bread’s dryness actually made the pairing work well, but I still wasn’t able to work through my entire plate.

Our final experiment was the lúcuma cheesecake for dessert. You can find just about every variety of the world’s fruits somewhere in NYC, but lúcuma still remains an entirely uncommon ingredient in restaurants, so the cheesecake offered an unexperienced citrus flavor that really made it stand out for me.

Though the tree canopies protected us from the mist of rain initially, we finished our meal just in time for worsening weather to arrive. We hung out in their attractively decorated dining room while paying the bill, which came to $49 each, placing it on par with other members of NYC’s raw pantheon.

Worth it overall? Yes; the creativity and uniqueness of the dishes really did override any of their misses on taste and execution. The weekend brunch seems like a particularly good deal for any mimosa-lovers, and their backyard was really a beautiful venue for dining. Go in knowing what to expect: an experiment in raw cuisine, and you’ll leave with an expanded concept of what raw food can offer.

Food (2.5/4)
Atmosphere & Service
Value (2.5/4)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


Copyright © 2012

Green Web Hosting! This site hosted by DreamHost.