Restaurant Review: Peacefood Cafe

Peacefood Cafe
460 Amsterdam Avenue
(at 86th Street)
Upper West Side, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (3/4)

We recently wandered into the Upper West Side to visit local vegan hot spot Peacefood Cafe. Arriving around 7:00 on a weekday evening, we found the restaurant packed with neighborhood patrons, including many younger families (the staff performed admirably in the logistics of baby stroller parking). Despite the crowd, we were seated after only a couple of minutes.

The dining space was comfortable; a sort of mixed decorative style that suggested home-brewed bohemianism, giving it the right sort of feel for a down-to-earth neighborhood haunt. The service was also very personal; we received a strong level of attention from several restaurant staff, all helping to further the atmosphere of familiarity.

To drink we started off with a freshly squeezed gingerade (a tweaked lemonade) and a green lemonade. The ginger of the gingerade was muted, but present. The green lemonade tasted lawn-like (we guessed it contained copious quantities of spirulina), which is best to experience in extreme moderation – the tall glass was way too much for me to handle.

As an appetizer, we chose to try a side of their award-winning chickpea fries. The dish was a lot of fun, with the predictable taste and texture of falafel (just in rectangular form). The rich dipping sauce provided had great flavor too, and we really appreciated the addition of a sprout garnish adding just a bit more depth to the dish.

For entrées, the pan-seared mushroom panini was delicious. The thick bread had a perfectly toasted surface. Despite the range of toppings from sun-dried tomatoes to an artichoke aioli, the earthy flavor of french horn fungi dominated. Brian chose the PFC un-chicken basket: a plate of chicken strips with another great dipping sauce. The strips seemed composed with the usual approach of seitan and ground mushroom stems, giving them a nice, meaty texture. They provided a good quantity of strips on the plate – perfect for a shared meal (Brian and I each had half the sandwich and half the strips), though if you’re going solo on that entrée, you may want to choose the potato salad combo for a little more variety in your meal.

A glass case at the counter offered a really nice range of desserts. They had unfortunately sold out of our first choice of a raspberry galette, and the runner-up coconut cream pie was regrettably oily (and the taste of the oil really spoiled the slice for us).

Overall, the Peacefood Cafe was a fun experience, and they’ve very much captured a niche as the perfect local dining hangout. Order carefully if you don’t have a regular patron to guide you through the menu (and not be surprised by a spirulina-filled drink), but for the most part we really enjoyed our orders.  At $31 each, it’s a reasonable price for the food and experience, and the restaurant is totally worth a try the next time you’re on the Upper West Side.

Food (3/4)

Atmosphere & Service

Value (3/4)

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