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Good News/ Bad News: Dirt Candy

Horine, 10/29/08

Due to the name and the vegetarian theme, we weren't expecting much attention to be paid to Amanda Cohen's new East Village sliver Dirt Candy. But just over a month after its debut Gourmet, a surfeit of bloggers, and a good number of Chowhounders have paid the place a visit, digital cameras in tow. And because the restaurant touts itself as a new kind of vegetarian (meaning not healthy, and actually tasty), has the rare female figurehead, and been the victim of vandalism attributed to the vegetarian mafia, it's received some bloggy press here and there as well. Can New Yorkers be satisfied without the meat? Let's see the good news and the bad news:

The Mostly Good News: As usual, Gourmet has some nice things to say but mentions a few shortcomings: "And so rather than tasting like some kind of folate tonic, her super-green spinach soup was soothing and spiky, with sharp lemon confit. Carrot risotto was perfectly cooked, just this side of al dente and oozing orange sauce. The shiitake grits were shovel-it-in tasty...Not everything was perfect—the pasta was a little lost in its sauce, December tomatoes made an unfortunate appearance, and the desserts were a little short of wonderful." [Gourmet]

The Bad News: The first Chowhounder to report on Dirt Candy likes the starters but not much else: "I had the grits with a poached egg and mushrooms which I may have really enjoyed for a hangover brunch, but was a little one note, and a touch bland for dinner. I had a bite of the carrot rissotto which was bright, but a bit too sweet for my tastes. Third entree was the tofu with green ragu which looked like the kind of food that makes me avoid vegeterian restaurants. We skipped dessert." [CH]

The Mostly Good News: The other Chowhounders mostly chime in with positives. Here's one: "Hush Puppies = fantastic!...The highlight of my meals there was the Portobello Mousse. The sauteed (or braised) portobello slivers were an eye opener for me, and I will definitely be serving portobellos in this way at my dinner parties...The risotto was very rich and the carrot dumplings were a nice innovation, but I would have liked there to be something inside the dumplings. The deception was refreshing and fun, but they were simply dumplings made from pureed carrot..." [CH]

The Great News: Eat to Blog has an all out rave: "The hush puppies were warm and amazingly light, with just a touch of spiciness...Then I got what sounded like the most unusual dish on the menu — stone ground grits with pickled shitake mushrooms and a tempura poached egg. Yes, the egg was crunchy fried on the outside and wonderfully runny and creamy on the inside...Together it was an amazing dish." [Eat to Blog]

The Good News: Off the Broiler has a gorgeous photo essay on the place, but he also offers up some critiques: "Jalapeno Hush Puppies served with maple butter. Everybody loved these...Spinach Soup with Smoked Tofu Dumplings...I thought it was underseasoned and the concentrated spinach favor resulted in an unpleasant bitter aftertaste I didn’t like...Portobello Mousse...was definitely successful...Stone Ground Grits with pickled shitakes and a tempura poached egg. This was one of my favorite dishes of the entire evening..." [OTB]

Dirt Candy

86 Allen Street, Manhattan, NY 10002 (212) 228-7732 Visit Website

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