For a vegetarian, I’m quite the picky eater. I don’t find meat substitutes or burgers designed to seem so the slightest bit appealing. If I wanted to eat food that resembled meat in taste or texture, I would actually choose meat. Alas this sassy vegetable snob ended up at Dirt Candy, a veggie-focused restaurant in the Lower East Side. Lady boss and chef owner Amanda Cohen has achieved some serious success over the years including receiving two stars from the New York Times, and even being recognized by the Michelin Guide five years in a row.
It was safe to say vegetable stakes were high. I met up with my younger cousin, Anup for a casual brunch. As an Internal Medicine resident, any time spent outside of the hospital is much appreciated for him. The brunch deal at Dirt Candy is a good one: $35 includes a cocktail of your choice, an appetizer, and entree. The menu also notes that tipping is eliminated. The restaurant prides itself in paying their employees a better wage. The menu items are priced as such to help provide higher wages for the staff.
In the spirit of a veggie-centric brunch, all signs pointed to a carrot mimosa for me. Mimosas are also available in cucumber and beet flavors as well. Even more impressive than the subtly sweet and splendid carrot mimosa, all juices are freshly squeezed in-house every morning. This mimosa might be closest I get to a juice cleanse. Anup enjoyed a poolside breeze cocktail made with cilantro and cucumber. The prosecco spritzer based cocktail had a refreshing combination of flavors paired with the bubbles.
When you think of chocolate and onions, a disturbing thought comes to mind. It’s about as cringeworthy of a pairing as January Jones and Nick Viall from The Bachelor. The golden scone is accompanied with whipped butter and orange marmalade for dipping. The chocolate and onion scone albeit a strange combination, tasted delightful. The onions provided a sweetness that complemented the chocolate chunks. The scone was coated in sugar to seal the flavors together.
Next up the red pepper fritters came out. I assumed the pretty little fritters would be savory in taste. I was dead wrong upon first bite. The glazed fritter is filled with a sweet red pepper jam to offset the spice. The semi-sweet fritter was a neat choice for a breakfast pastry.
It was time to dig into our entrées. With so many interesting items on the menu, we were torn. We finally settled on a layered omelette and zucchini pancakes. The layered omelette is vibrant and includes your choice of potatoes or a salad. The omelette does not contain any actual eggs, instead the layers consist of eggplant, preserved lemon, whipped sundried tomato, and goat cheese. The omelette was full of flavor and certainly filling. The potatoes were cooked just right and spiced to perfection.
Last but not least, we dug into the zucchini pancakes served with squash blossom butter. The vegetable based pancakes are were by far the best thing we tasted. It was a interesting take on pancakes and presented beautifully. The bite-sized pancake stacks also come with syrup for drizzling. I preferred mine sans syrup but you can’t go wrong either way with this dish. We were impressed with all of the items we had but the cocktails, chocolate and onion scone were among our favorites with the zucchini pancakes taking home the honor.
The Bitches Say: A+ for an inventive take on vegetables and unlikely pairings found in classic brunch items.
Dirt Candy serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.