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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Candle Cafe Review

A tourist if I ever saw one...

The first time I went to Rome, I was awestruck by each and every building, piece of art and fountain my eyes took in. I remember that my heart was bubbling with excitement. Same thing happened when I lived in Brasil and I saw the Roberto Carlos singing fountain for the first time in my tiny town of Cachoeiro de Itapmarin. What I am saying is that it is hard for me to realize that I get to see things in the world, say, that I may have learned in the sixth grade from my teacher, Mr. Harry P. Kent, the best teacher I ever had. Going to Candle Cafe in NYC (the city of my birth) gave me the same goose bumpy feeling I had when I saw the Ferragamo flagship store in Florence. I never believe that I get to be part of these destinations.

Megabusing it to the city, we tore up Lexington Avenue to our final destination, the Candle Cafe, a mecca for vegan eating in NYC. I've been reading about this place since last year when I decided that I needed to feel better and act like a preventive warrior for new "wellth." I'd studied the menu prior to my arrival, and even bought their cookbook as one of my latest reads.

Nothing was a disappointment. The din of the cafe grew moment by moment as each table filled up with all sorts of people. For me, a people watcher, it was Nirvana. The menu, simple, reprinted on recycled paper, was a delight to read. What I liked best was that our food server did not tell me her first name or what the specials were, simply she said, "Here are your menus, I'll be back." I never like to know my food server's name, it really means nothing to me. I prefer a comfy seat, a clean bathroom, and great food.

My friend Aileen and I shared a mezze plate of Middle Eastern dips, a salad and a sandwich. And everything was fresh, delicious and beautifully prepared. It was a relaxing place, even at the peak of noon. I didn't want to leave. What I loved the most was...I didn't have to filter through a menu a find "something" I could eat. This was a menu that was hand tailored for me. I think I even detected kale stains on page three of the menu, really.

I will caution, however, that you need to be cognizant about oil and sodium. Asking what the ingredients are is still a very crucial question, even in a vegan restaurant. I cook and eat without either, so it was important for me to selectively order my food.

If I worked for a magazine as a restaurant reviewer, I'd give Candle Cafe "5 leaves of kale, out of five" in my review, because it was awesome and filled all of my vegan dreams. It was simple and pure, no gimmicks. All real. Just like the food.

Candle Cafe is located at 1307 Lexington Avenue. Make sure you get there on your next jaunt to NYC. I'll gladly lead a caravan of friends on the Bolt or Megabus.

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