Ever since K started her vegan experiment, I kept badgering her to go have "good dinner" with me at a nice vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Ideally, I'm sure we would have selected Blossom (http://www.blossomnyc.com/home.html), but we work with what our budget allows. My boss, who lives in the East Village, was always telling me that the line at Angelica Kitchen (http://www.angelicakitchen.com/) was out the door, so we decided to give it a try (BEFORE Blair Waldorf mentioned it on Gossip Girl, thank you very much).
After a fateful and harrowing boot-buying INCIDENT, I showed up a few minutes late and K had already put our names on a list. We were seated immediately, although it was the table right by the door. I usually get a little distressed by drafty dining, but it actually turned out to be fine.
I really liked the atmosphere of the place. I think I was misled by the neon sign, which made me for some reason believe that it was going to be bright and have a sort of sterile quality. I don't know why I decide that certain things are true when they are not, but AK actually proved to be quite cozy and homey, with sort of an amber tinge to everything, lots of wooden accoutrements and an open glass front. There didn't seem to be any rush to hustle us out, but our service was prompt and we didn't have to wait too long for anything.
K was right about the waiter telling me my entree was going to be better, which naturally upset her more than it upset me. However, having tasted both of them, I think they were pretty much on par. Both delicious, although I only tried K's sandwich because I have a complex about salad.
The thing I noticed first and foremost was the taste of the meat substitutes. My entree included seitan, while K's consisted of tempeh. Normally, I find meat substitutes fairly bland, although I enjoy them when they're served in conjunction with other things that are more flavorful. The "meat" itself at AK, however, is absolutely delicious.
The menu indicates that K's tempeh was seasoned with caraway and cumin, and it was actually palpable, a reality rather than an allegation. I couldn't quite detect the specific flavors in my seitan, but it tasted almost like beef with a little extra kick. If it's your first time trying a meat substitute, go somewhere else first...this place will spoil you.
It's also important to note that I finished my ENTIRE Ole Man Seitan tortilla, and I didn't want to die or check myself into fat camp afterward. My body still felt like it was running normally, as opposed to how it feels when I eat regular Mexican tortillas: abused. I also enjoyed the presentation of the food, with the sauce and sour cream thickly applied in cute stripes on top, garnished with a slice of pimento. I promptly messed up the design with my knife, but I tried to avoid showing that little snafu in the photo:
As K mentioned, the dessert was pretty delicious. I was uncomfortable with the thick almond sauce at first, but it proved to be quite dazzling when I gave it a chance. As with the Ole Man Seitan wrap, the food didn't leave me feeling like I'd just ingested something laden with processed poison. Instead, the apples tasted like real apples. It was filling without making me feel like I should throw up or lay down in an effort to recover my health.
So, that was our experience at Angelica Kitchen. I also endorse an SPF field trip, especially if we go early since the place started to fill up as K and I were leaving. Oh, yeah, and going to Johnny's afterward is definitely a requirement. Although maybe next time we shouldn't buy shoes...?