In my restaurant-reviewing days, I had a bias against virtuous food, which I defined as anything you ate because it was supposed to be good for you, rather than because it satisfied your taste buds. I have nothing against broccoli (it tastes good to me, at least when paired with hummus or tzatziki), but I gravitate towards creamy cheeses, gamey meats, and dreamy desserts. When I first read about the raw food movement, I was horrified. I considered low-fat mozzarella an abomination; what could I say about a cuisine that made “cheese” out of nuts?
Silly me. One of my favorite restaurants in New York has turned out to be a raw food spot. Pure Food and Wine is just south of Gramercy Park (see photo above) on Irving Place. My husband suggested it just after my celiac diagnosis, when we were casting about for a romantic spot to celebrate our anniversary. At that point, I was nervous at the thought of eating anywhere but my own home. My husband and I called Pure Food, asking question after question to establish the staff’s ability — and willingness — to prepare a gluten-free meal. Finally I decided to give it a try.
The restaurant was a surprise: the long, lean room mixed natural woods that echoed the restaurant’s earthy mantra with bordello-red walls that reflected a distinctly sexy aura. The server was well-informed and helpful, pointing out the few items I wouldn’t be able to order on Pure Food’s extensive menu. It was a moment of pure bliss: I was just getting accustomed to the idea that there were so many things I couldn’t have that being offered so many choices felt like freedom. When the food arrived, I was pleasantly surprised: a Caesar salad with pine nut “parmesan” and nori doesn’t sound decadent, but it turns out it is. And the zucchini and roma tomato lasagna was better than any wheat-noodle version I could remember. Dessert was even more satisfying: not only could I order my own, but I could steal what my husband had ordered.
Like I said, pure bliss.
Pure Food and Wine [address] 54 Irving Place, New York, NY [tel] 212-477-1010 [email] firstname.lastname@example.org [web] www.purefoodandwine.com