Restaurant Review: Angelica Kitchen

img_5230

Reviewed 3/7/2009

More food with philosophy — I love it!

This afternoon, I met up with six girls from college for linner. Rooms and Elise were in town for the weekend from DC, and Pamela (who happens to be vegan) came up from Delaware. And, of course, the typical Brooklyn four were in tow: Gina, Kate, Kareen, and me.

img_5284

Due to Pamela’s veganness, I suggested we meet at Angelica Kitchen, a restaurant that, according to the menu, uses “first quality, sustainably grown ingredients often served to you less than 48 hours after harvest.” Sounds good to me!

In addition, Angelica Kitchen uses “no preservatives, no dairy, no eggs, no animal products whatsoever.” This description did produce some grumblings from the serious meat-eaters in the bunch, but everyone was a good sport and agreed to give it a go. As Rooms said, “If I don’t like it, I’ll just go get a corned beef sandwich afterwards at Katz’s Deli.”

Pamela started with a miso soup that came with whole grain bread and carrot-ginger spread:

img_5234

I did not try the soup, but the bread plus spread … oh my goodness! I kept sneaking crumbs and licks when Pamela wasn’t looking, haha. The bread was very moist, and I could see the individual grains:

img_5241

For her main meal, Pamela ordered the Dragon Bowl, a plate of steamed butternut and kabocha squash, chickpeas, tofu, brown rice, and sea vegetables (aka seaweed):

img_5250

I had bites of each of item on there (and brought a few bites home that Pamela couldn’t finish). It was all tasty, wholesome food … but also very unseasoned. Sometimes simple is better, but I think this dish could have used some zap! Also, the texture of the seaweed was pretty mushy — it didn’t have that chewy crunch of the seaweed salad you get at a Japanese restaurant. It was just ok.

Kareen, Kate, and Rooms got the Saturday’s Salad: a black bean salad with butternut squash, red onions, celery, carrots, cauliflower, and mesclun greens, tossed in a cumin-scented vinaigrette and served with toasted pumpkin seeds & corn tortilla chips.

img_5242

I did not try any of this, but I did bring home what Rooms couldn’t finish! Actually, I did eat one black bean from the bowl, and I loved it.

I should also note that Rooms initially wanted to order the Still Salad — colorful whole grain basmati rice paella featuring heirloom white bordal beans, roasted button mushrooms, green peppers, kabocha squash, cauliflower, carrots, sea palm, olives, and capers; topped with saffron tofu aioli and served with tomato compote — but Angelica was out of it!! Rooms was pretty bummed. She got a side of cornbread to make up for it:

img_52631

The cornbread was delicious — even the skeptics agreed :-).

Gina ordered the Warm Roasted Vegetable Salad: a seasonal selection of warm roasted vegetables tossed with arugula in a balsamic vinaigrette and garnished with garlic crostini spread with creamy hummus.

img_5247

I have no doubt that Gina is going chime in here with a diatribe of her own, so just to give an overview, she liked the hummus and that’s about it. Gina’s biggest complaint about this meal was the lack of vegetables, and I have to say I see her point. Five little pieces of roasted squash and carrot, however delicious, does not constitute a satisfying meal!

Elise ordered the Norimaki: six pieces of rolled vegetable sushi, served with wasabi, pickled ginger and lemon-shoyu dipping sauce.

img_5255

I did not try this dish, either — mostly because Elise made pretty quick work of it :-). Guess she liked it!

The star of the linner, however, was obviously my Man of Lemon-cha: charmoula baked tempeh with cilantro, cinnamon, lemon, paprika, cayenne, and cumin; served with cashew-orange sauce and a millet-teff mix; accompanied by minted cucumber spears, roasted sweet potatoes, and green beans.

img_5259

Oh. my. goodness. Everything about this meal was a success!! Perfect flavors, textures, everything :-D. After I ate the cold things (cucumber and frisee), I chopped the rest and mixed it all together with the delectable cashew-orange sauce. Soooooo good. Before I saw the food, I had planned to make the cut and box half to take home, but it ended up being the absolute perfect size to satisfy my post-run hunger.

While the skeptical end of the table started making plans to go to Ben & Jerry’s after the restaurant, Pamela, Kate, and I enthusiastically pored over the dessert menu. We decided to split two treats among the three of us.

Dessert #1 was coconut cheesecake with coconut crust and carob sauce:

img_5276

This cheesecake was decent, mostly thanks to the carob sauce. I loved the crust — it was thick and dense and had that “healthy cookie” taste to it — but the cheesecake itself was a little too jello-like. I’ve had vegan cheesecake before that’s been cheesier and more New York-style, but this one didn’t really cut it for me.

Dessert #2 was the vanilla layer cake with strawberry filling and hazelnut frosting:

img_5273

Now this cake was definitely a winner! It was moist and dense, and the strawberry later in the middle was subtle but came through just enough. The best part, though, was the hazelnut frosting, hands-down:

img_5272

Mmmmmmm! My mouth is kind of aching just thinking about it.

I definitely enjoyed my Angelica Kitchen experience, although not all of the ladies were as enthusiastic.  While my meal was the epitome of perfection, the food overall seemed hit or miss in terms of both taste and portion-size. I would go back again, but only if someone else were paying ;-).


Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: Angelica Kitchen

  1. Pamela says:

    I loved, loved, loved my main dish. And it came with a choice of dressing. But I like bland food, so I used the dressing minimally. I don’t think the dressing made it to you . . . sorry.

    As for the desserts, the cake was the best vegan dessert I have ever had . . . better than many non-vegan desserts . . . and better than the vegan desserts I make myself, which I share with non-vegans to great applause. The cheesecake was good too, though with vegan cheesecake, I think “cheesecake” is a misnomer and sets up expectations that inevitably lead to disappointment. I think custard pie is a better comparison.

    And . . . we are definitely going back . . . my treat. 😉

    Like

  2. Gina Boland says:

    I will apologize in advance for the length of this comment, but Sarah did warn you! I did NOT enjoy Angelica Kitchen. As Sarah mentioned, my main problem was the portion size in comparison with the prices. I expected my “Warm Roasted Vegetable Salad” to actually contain a good amount of vegetables. It sounded good on the menu and was a HUGE disappointment. It was basically a bunch of arugula with a TINY amount of vegetables and the whole meal only filled up about half of the large bowl they served it in. The dressing was also not very good. The whole thing really lacked flavor, which I think sums up most of the food that everyone ordered! The salad cost $12.25!!!!! You see the picture, that salad was NOT worth $12.25! It was basically an appetizer size portion for the price of a full entree. I was NOT at all happy about that.

    I tried some of the black bean salad which was more of a HUGE portion of black beans…it was about 90% beans. Where’s the salad? It was supposed to be served over mesclun greens and there were barely any greens, just a huge bowl of beans. Again, for $11, I expected a little more variety than a big bowl of beans. That should cost like $2, not $11! I tried Pam’s bread that Sarah raved about…and thought it was really bland. The spread added some flavor but the bread itself, eh. I also tried a bite of each dessert…the “winning” cake also, to me, had very little flavor other than the filling in the middle and the hazelnut icing. The actual cake itself…not so good. The “cheesecake” tasted like a gelatinous mess. I did like Lisa’s cornbread and, as Sarah mentioned, the hummus on my TINY garlic crostini. I also thought our waitress was nice and she understood my Bachelor reference 🙂 But, this meal, all in all, was just not good. I paid $15 in total when you include tax and tip, and left the place hungry. I would like to mention that I went to a new Italian pizzeria/ristorante for dinner last night in Marine Park and paid $12 for a HUGE bowl of pasta with sausage ragu, mushrooms and cheese. LESS money for a MUCH more satisfying and very tasty meal. Even if someone paid for me to return to Angelica Kitchen, I would have to politely decline.

    Like

  3. Gina Boland says:

    To be fair, I’d like to add one more comment. I took home Kareen’s leftover black bean salad to “repurpose it”. I just ate some after heating it up and adding some cheddar cheese, salsa, and guacamole…the only non-vegan thing being the cheese and it tasted much better! I plan to use the rest in a burrito or perhaps over some rice, again adding the cheese, salsa and guacamole!

    Like

  4. Lisa says:

    I hope we can all agree to disagree… because I think what it boils down to is that people who are vegan, vegetarian, or super health-conscious will enjoy this restaurant; on the other hand, people (like Gina and me) who are used to more traditional food will leave feeling dissatisfied. The more important thing is to enjoy an afternoon with old friends, and I was very happy to see everyone.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s