I have been asking for another vegetarian or vegan restaurant to open on the Upper West Side and finally it’s happened! It’s one of my favorite names in veg food too, Candle Cafe West.
Other than Cafe Blossom the UWS is severely lacking when it comes to meat-free food, so I was excited to learn about this very welcome addition. If you’ve been to the original Candle Cafe on 3rd Avenue you know seating is limited, not the case at the new location. There are more tables and the feel is more upscale. Not as fancy as Candle 79, but just right for a nice night out!
While drinking a nice organic bottle of red we started with the Seitan Chimichurri skewers ($9). I have loved these from the first time I bit into them years ago at Candle Cafe UES. They now sell them in the deli section of Whole Foods and I get them often. Still I couldn’t resist ordering them again. My husband loves them too, so it’s a win win. The seitan is always so succulent, just the right texture. It really is one of the best seitan dishes out there. It’s not the traditional chimichurri like the ones we get in Cuban restaurants in Miami. Instead a creamy element is added, without cream of course. If you have never had these you are missing out!
Next up the Candle Nachos ($16). This appetizer features corn chips, tapioca cheese, tomatoes, chili, chili-grilled seitan, guacamole, salsa, tofu sour cream and romaine lettuce. As a vegetarian you often don’t get to indulge in nachos with all the toppings, so I love that I can order them here without the worry of meat being on top. One thing I will say about this dish though is that $16 is a lot for an app and the portion size is smaller than you expect from loaded nachos. With that said it was still tasty!
There were so many great main courses to choose from that it’s hard to narrow down. We’ve had a lot of the sandwiches at Candle Cafe UES before and since we were there for dinner we decided to get a couple of the Farmers’ Market Entrees instead. I couldn’t resist the Sourthern Plate ($20). It was a heaping portion of barbequed seitan, macaroni & cheese, chili, coleslaw, and cornbread. The macaroni and cheese was creamy, the bbq seitan had just the right amount of sweetness and the corn bread tasted buttery, even though we know butter is not an ingredient. I sometimes go to BBQ restaurants and just order sides. Here it is so nice to get protein and iron on the plate too (from the seitan and chili).
Our other selection was the Spaghetti and Wheat Balls ($19). It featured truffled tomato sauce, roasted garlic, spinach and cashew parmesan. A pretty standard pasta dish, very similar to one I make at home. If you are in the mood for pasta this will leave you feeling satisfied.
Next time I’m there I have to try the Sweet and Sour Seitain and Mole Tempeh. So many dishes to try, so little time.
Of course there is always time for dessert. My husband is a carrot cake connessieur so we had to get a slice. I absolutely love the look of their carrot cake ($8). The flavor did disappoint either. It’s vanilla frosting, so it’s not your normal cream cheese flavor, but it worked and the hubby loved it.
My choice was the dessert of the day, marble cake with a scoop of ice “cream”. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It was actually more like a pound cake with some type of icing on it. I was expecting something super sweet, but it actually wasn’t all that sweet. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. You know when you are expecting one flavor and get another. Plus I’m an extra sweet kind of gal. With that said, though, the more bites I took the more I enjoyed it. I ate the ice cream that came with it on it’s own and it was soooo good. We couldn’t finish both so we took the leftovers home and enjoyed them the next day.
All in all I couldn’t be happier about this addition to the neighborhood. I will welcome any vegetarian or vegan restaurant with open arms, especially friends at Candle! It looks like others are welcoming it too because it was pretty busy when I was there last Saturday. Here’s to much success.
BTW I did a video at the original Candle Cafe. If you haven’t seen it take a look: http://youtu.be/tlm1QDR3bog