Candle Café Double Header


Warning: this post might make you jealous. I have eaten at NYC’s famous Candle Café two days in a row.

I didn’t plan on it. Exactly. I had plans to have a Mom-daughter dinner on Saturday night, and Candle was my restaurant of choice. I am never—and I do mean never—disappointed with a meal there (granted, I nearly always get the same meal, but still! Consistency takes talent), and besides that, I love the ambiance, the warmth, the friendly and kind waitstaff, and the green juice. Nuff said.


This was my Mom’s first time dining at Candle with me, so I was excited to watch her peruse and choose from the menu. She settled on a glass of Syrah and the chanterelle mushroom risotto with cashew cream:

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I helped myself to a bite, and oh my lord, am I glad I did. This risotto was mind-bogglingly good; possibly the best I’ve ever had. My Mom immediately declared that it was one of the best she’s ever had, too (and my mother adores risotto) and that she’d never have known it was vegan if she’d tasted it outside of a vegan restaurant. Win!

I went for something a little more standardly Gena-ish, starting with the house salad and cumin vinaigrette:

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You really can’t beat fresh (and grilled) hearts of palm.

Next, I did my standard entrée, which is the “good food plate” (four sides and two dressings). This one might have been my favorite yet: quinoa veggie pilaf, roasted beets, steamed vegetables, and baked yam:

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I opted for a tahini and a creamy cranberry dressing. The latter was spectacular, and I will be trying it out soon for myself.

With bellies full and hearts content, Mom and I caught the crosstown bus home. We did so, however, without my camera (!!). This is the first time in many years of blogging that I’ve ever left my camera anywhere, and I was mortified to realize it this morning. Thankfully, the Candle folks had kindly hung onto it for me (Mark, you rock), and even more thankfully, I was supposed to have lunch with my friend Gabi, who lives on the Upper East Side, anyway. It was fate: I was going back.

This time I started with a green goddess juice:


The thing I love about Candle’s green juices is their very greenness! Other green juices end up all apple and cucumber, and no dark leafies: not these juices. They’re sweet enough for me to handle, but always heavy on greens and ginger. Yum.

I started with a butternut squash soup. Simple and delish:

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Gabi and I both moved on to the daily salad: quinoa, pinto beans, green beans, pumpkin seeds, jicama, avocado, and mesclun. I requested the fabulous cumin dressing with mine:

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I’m not gonna lie: this cumin dressing puts my own cumin dressing to shame. It really does.

As expected, these were two wonderful meals. But they were more than that: they were a chance to see fellow friends in the vegan community. They were a reminder of how lucky New Yorkers are to have such establishments next door. They were time well spent with people dear to me. And they were really really really good excuses to pick up the new Candle 79 cookbook.

And now, I’m on the bus, on my way back to DC. It’s always very hard for me to leave New York, but this time, it is only for the duration of finals! In three weeks, I’ll return to my stomping grounds. I just need to muster up the energy and determination to get through this final push of the semester. More green juice, I think, is in order.

I’ll greet you all tomorrow, from Washington.


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  1. My girlfriend has you beat. She was In NYC visiting from LA last weekend and hit candle cafe 4 mites in a row…so green with envy of you both!

  2. I am totally with you on the green juice issue. I like mine with no sweet fruit! Just lots of herbs, lemon and ginger. Do you mis NYC enough to move back soon, or is there enough to hold you in DC?

    • Ali,

      Well, I’ll pretty much go anywhere for med school — it’s just a question of whether or not anyone will have me! I would love to return to NYC at that point, but everything will depend on where I get accepted (or not). DC has been good, but I don’t think it’s where I’ll put down roots.


      • I totally understand. I have no doubt in my mind that you will get into med school. We are all rooting for you! Also, I know how hard you are working, and it is going to be so great when it all pays off! I hope you get into school at NYC, I think you belong there.

  3. This totally inspired me, and I ended up making my own ‘good food plate’ for dinner. Nom!

  4. Safe trip home!

    It’s precious to get good time with your mom, isn’t it? I’m so glad I got to see mine just now too, and sharing good food was a part of that too.

    My experience has been that when I leave things behind, people are usually so kind and thoughtful. I’m glad you had that same experience.

  5. Love Candle Cafe! How lucky you were to go twice. Yes it was fate. I am going to crack open my cookbook of theirs to see if the dressing recipe is in there.

  6. Your green juice photos are making me drool. I’ve been pining over a juicer! I think Thanksgiving is such a teaser because it’s so quick and just a taste of what the next few weeks will bring. I’m glad you got to have a nice mom dinner! I went for a great walk with mine and spent some quality time with siblings and cousins. Good luck with the rest of the semester!

  7. Love seeing you as always. Thanks for the mouthwatering post. Glad I’m here everyday to share in the Candle Goodness with a Green Goddess. See you soon.

  8. Haven’t been to either of the candles since before the baby was born… That was a year ago! Ack! I’m drooling!

  9. I’m jealous! Currently planning my December NYC weekend trip and will include CC!

  10. Yes, I am jealous! These pictures are stunning. I would love for you to figure out the cranberry dressing – on the Cape there are cranberry bogs everywhere!

  11. I’ve only been to Candle Cafe once. I really need to get back there and it give it another shot (didn’t love what I ordered that night…which is certainly not a reflection on the entire menu!) You’ve inspired me!

  12. Sounds like a great trip to NYC on so many levels…time with your mom, great food (twice in two days!) and yes, certain salad dressings, juices, dishes like the risotto…as much as we try to replicate in our own kitchens, there are certain things that are just..tricky. Which sucks for us back at home but makes the next time we go back to the restaurant even better b/c we get to REALLY savor it 🙂

    Hope the next 3 weeks go by fast and easy for you, Gena!

  13. Hehe. I totally went back to Sweet Green the next day and got the exact.same.salad! I guess I know what I like! I can’t wait to make it to Candle one day- I’ve been to Peacefood Cafe and Pure Food and Wine. I’ve been eating lots of leftover stuffing with cooked kale and a vegan mushroom gravy I made. Next year I’ll make vegan stuffing too!

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