Restaurant Review: Angelica Kitchen

Angelica Kitchen
300 East 12th Street
(between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue)
East Village, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (3/4)

Opened in 1976, the Angelica Kitchen is one of the city’s oldest vegetarian restaurants, yet has been able to weather the ups and downs of the decades to remain a strong player in the city’s vegi-friendly scene. The atmosphere is great; their comfortable, slightly up-scale dining room is consistently filled with a diversity of patrons, and some basic ground rules for courtesy (like no cell phone use allowed inside the restaurant) assures for a relaxed atmosphere despite the crowd.

The menu is wide-ranging with an eclectic mix of American-style comfort foods and dishes with more ethnic inspirations. They allow you to bring your own alcohol (there’s no corkage fee), but they also offer a solid selection of beverages: I chose the cold Cranberté (a cranberry iced tea with apple cider and orange – the combinations made a bit too much of a potpourri for me, but we appreciated the uniqueness – I would go with the hot version if I tried it again), and Brian went with a well-done lemonade (fresh taste without being overly sweet).

As an appetizer, a well-composed walnut-lentil pâté was topped with a delicious tofu sour cream. The rice crackers and surrounding crudité were very basic, which made them perfect vehicles for the pâté, letting its flavors really stand out while adding crisp textures to each mouthful.

For the entrées, Brian chose a polenta special. The block of polenta was hidden under a mass of fresh vegetables and a wonderful white sauce. In turn, that tower was bedded on a plate of black beans, radishes, broccoli, and arugla – a dish brimming with fresh ingredients and well-matched flavors.

I too went with one of the night’s specials: a spinach and leek quiche. Sitting atop a pumpkin sauce with some very nicely roasted squash to the side, the highlight of the quiche for me was the amazingly convincing vegan cheese/egg that did a great job in binding together the vegetables, but also had a great taste that made it an element to the meal that could really stand on its own.

To finish everything off with desserts, Brian had a tart with a well done crumb crisp coating and deliciously fresh berries. My parfait was perfectly flavored with anise and mint – I really refreshing way to end the meal.

Beyond the great atmosphere, good food, and solid service, the restaurant can also take pride in its high social and environmental awareness. 95% of their ingredients are fair trade and ecologically grown, and the kitchen practices water filtration and composting. Each night’s leftovers are given to City Harvest, and you’ll find special menu items for which donations are made toward some great causes (the cost of a special appetizer on our menu went to MST Brazil).

At $36 each (and cash only, so make sure to do a pre-meal ATM run), the price is definitely in the finer dining range, but the restaurant does not disappoint, and gives a great experience and a great meal that’s all well worth that price. Despite its age, Angelica Kitchen continues to remain inspired and inspiring; and deserving of a visit from any member of the NYC vegetarian dining community.

Food (3.5/4)
Atmosphere & Service
Value (3/4)

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