348 West 145th Street between Edgecombe and St. Nicholas Avenues
$50 for three, with 3 juices, without tip
half a ♥
I consider myself an omnivore and don’t turn my back on vegetarian dishes even though my first choice will always be meat or seafood. Once in a while, I crave all vegetables to feel “cleaner” and lighter. I’m known to surprise my friends by ordering a vegetarian burger from Shake Shack because it’s as good as their beef burgers. (Really!)
I’ve lived in Harlem for almost six years now and have always walked by Raw Soul. I’ve always been curious about the place and finally stopped by with friends after biking around Central Park. We needed food badly to combat the heat, so we stopped to pick up a few dishes with some of their homemade juices.
On the Raw Soul menu it says: Raw, vegan meals prepared with fresh organic ingredients from scratch. We use no soy, refined sweeteners, dairy, or processed foods. I went inside Raw Soul with an open mind but I still don’t understand why anyone would consider the food satisfying. The eight-inch personal pizza hit the spot with all sorts of vegetables and something they called walnut cheese, but man, that flax crust was like eating sand. The tamale pie was layered with vegetarian chili and would have been edible if not for the dehydrated corn bread. It was just so bland and tasteless that we couldn’t even finish eating it. If only it was baked just a teeny bit and served warm, maybe the flavors of all the vegetables would have melded together as one real pizza. The tamale pie also needed some heat, both in temperature and taste.
We put our remaining hopes on their fresh juices. I ordered Grandma’s Greens made of celery, kale, parsley, cucumber, chard, dandelion and spinach. Kate opted for the Intestinal Cleanser with carrot, beet, spinach, cucumber, cabbage and garlic with some cayenne pepper. Jase got the best drink out of all of us: a green lemonade of apples, ginger, lettuce and kale. I’m not a big fan of sweets, but my drink seriously needed a carrot as a natural sweetener. Instead of tasting greens, it tasted more like Grandma: tepid and boring. Kate’s and Jase’s drinks were so much better with the ice cubes we got from the Starbuck’s around the corner.
What was cold at Raw Soul would have been better warm; what was warm would have been better ice cold. I trust that everything was what they said it was, but I don’t think I’ll ever be that person who will enjoy this kind of cooking.
Photos of Per Se’s vegetarian menu