300 East 12th Street off Second Avenue
$33 for two without tip; BYOB
It couldn’t have been the quinoa because it was light and fluffy. Could it have been the creamy cauliflower sauce lathered in the mushrooms? Or the tempeh in balsamic? Because it definitely wasn’t the roasted beets nor the steamed broccoli. I was hot, full and feeling bloated and all I wanted to do was get out of there. What was it about Angelica Kitchen?
There was so much going on around me and on my plate, I couldn’t appreciate eating at New York’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. I tried not to complain about the tempeh, but eating it is like dipping a granola bar in sauce and calling it dinner. I like texture in my food just fine, but I’m not a big fan of too-grainy and too-chewy. If you look at Angelica Kitchen’s menu, you’ll notice that they cram a lot of stuff on one plate. I’m not sure if it’s to make up for the lack of meat, but I would vote for less ingredients done well over lots done poorly any time. It also seemed like there was so much effort spent in making the cauliflower sauce that the cook just gave up on the greens because my dish was accompanied by unseasoned steamed broccoli–perhaps the most boring thing you could ever serve anyone.
My biggest qualm about Angelica Kitchen is that it gave too much of the vegetarian community vibe. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was–or what that exactly means–but I didn’t feel comfortable hanging out while we ate. It wasn’t my scene and the diners weren’t my people. I knew it; they knew it. The A/C didn’t seem to work properly and the 93-degree weather outside made me very uncomfortable. We shared the big table next to the kitchen with other guests, but no one seemed to feel as warm as we did–and they didn’t even have cold, tall beers like us!
I tried, and I’m not sorry I didn’t like it.