Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

AVANT GARDEN, 130 East 7th Street (between Avenue A and First Avenue), East Village

Vegan does not need to be such a bad word in the food world. Recently, there were shockwaves when Ravi DeRossi (a bigtime bar owner and restaurateur) announced that most of his restaurants and bars will become completely vegan.

This is a big deal since he owns a seafood-happy tiki bar, a rum bar with lots of Cuban dishes, and an excellent meat and cheese fondue spot in the West Village. How can these possibly work as vegan establishments?

Well, if his first foray into the non-meat world is any indication, they will be huge successes. Avant Garden opened earlier this year in the East Village and it’s as good and eye-opening as Dirt Candy (another game changing vegetarian restaurant).

There is somehow both a high-end and casual experience at Avant Garden. A warm chef’s counter and cozy dining room are overseen by a capable staff of servers. Unfortunately, like most of the great new restaurants in the city, portion sizes are small and oftentimes even when you order as many dishes as the staff suggests, you still leave hungry.

But the flavors and preparation of the vegan dishes are stellar. If you didn’t know any better, you’d guess that these vegetables were marinated in some sort of meat or cheese juice. How else could they taste this good?

Potato Cannelloni at AVANT GARDEN

Perfect example is the potato cannelloni. It’s actually a play on the spherical stuffed pasta. While  the pasta on its own could be vegan, here the Chef makes it from fried potato and fills it with a creamy, tangy “ricotta” made from pine nuts. It’s surrounded by more tasty vegetables: spicy, earthy eggplant “merguez”, a bright, peppery arugula pesto, and a handful of crunchy potato chips. It’s awesome and there’s no meat and no cheese!!

Same holds true for the toothsome beet tartare salad and the giant, meaty maitake mushrooms. After eating at Avant Garden, I realize if there is any restaurant owner that can make us all go vegan, it’s Ravi DeRossi. Price: $17

AVANT GARDEN
130 East 7th Street (between Avenue A and First Avenue),
East Village
(646) 922-7948
avantgardennyc.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

One Response to DISH OF THE WEEK: Potato Cannelloni at AVANT GARDEN

  1. Ttrockwood says:

    I’m very excited to see how his other restaurants change.(i’m a longtime vegetarian myself) I really enjoyed a lunch here a few months back but felt the prices were a good $2-3 more than they should be….

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