Restaurant Review: V-Note

1522 1st Avenue
(between 79th Street and 80th Street)
Upper East Side, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (3.5/4)

Within the sometimes rarified air of the Upper East Side, V-Note provides a comfortable breath of unexpectedly good (and relaxed) vegetarian dining. The Blossom group (whose several other vegan venues rank high amongst our favorites in the city) promotes V-Note as a wine bar, but the experience is indiscernible from any full-service restaurant with their full multi-course menu.

The atmosphere is elegantly refined, with a modern black-and-white color scheme carried throughout the design elements. Yet at the same time, there is no feeling of exclusivity or conceit – the staff all proved immensely friendly and helpful, and live music (Spanish guitar on Wednesdays and Fridays) helped to keep the aura welcoming. Like all of the Blossom restaurants, V-Note also has a strong dedication to animal rights, and a portion of our dinner’s proceeds were donated to Farm Sanctuary (check their news page to watch for similar events throughout the year).

Interestingly, the menu overlaps considerably with other Blossom eateries, bringing in some of the favorites from other sites (the mushroom risotto from Café Blossom and the feojoadhina from Blossom proper both standing out to us). That said, an extensive drink list and a number of house specialities let V-Note’s menu distinguish the restaurant from its august brethren.

To drink, I had a fizzy Samuel Smith raspberry ale (fun and refreshing), and Brian tried a wonderfully complex Italian Cabarnet Sauvignon with a woody, fruity flavor.

Our Cape Cod cakes appetizer bore a fascinating semblance to the real thing, with a tofu “fish” flavored with hijiki and an herbal blend, and with tartar sauce appropriately dolloped onto each cake.

For my entrée, I went with the evening’s special, and received a beautifully grilled seitan with smoky potato, mushroom, and asparagus. A green pea purée helped to temper the smoke, and gave the dish a perfect balance in its tastes and textures.

Brian’s entrée, chosen at our server’s recommendation, was pure brilliance. A crêpe filled with roasted root vegetables provided the foundation for a culinary tower of an amazingly delicious tofu coated in pistachio and black pepper, all topped by a frisée salad generously dressed with a red beet vinaigrette. The entire construction was delicately coated in lemon truffle oil, resulting in one of the most amazing culinary experiences we’ve encountered. The range of elements in the dish all maintained their independence in consumption, but somehow created an entirely cohesive experience that was so good, it nearly brought tears of joy to our eyes. Yep, it really was that incredible.

For dessert, a chocolate fondue ended our meal on a great note, being relatively predictable (helping to bring us back to Earth after flying high with our main courses), but still delicious. The dark chocolate was slightly bitter, matching well with the sweetness of the fruit pieces and the homemade biscotti-style cookies.

At $56 each, a dinner at V-Note was among the more expensive we’ve tried in the city. However, with a great atmosphere and unparalleled excellence in their food, V-Note should be placed high on your must-visit list. Whether for a first date, drinks with coworkers, or a dinner with out-of-town acquaintances, find any excuse you need to take a trip V-Note; the talent of their kitchen is among the best in the vegetarian world.

Food (4/4)

Atmosphere & Service

Value (3/4)

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