Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
May 8, 2012 10:25 AM

Dirt Candy - a review

At Amanda Cohen’s adorable (i.e.: shoebox-sized) East Village restaurant, Dirt Candy, vegetables are the stars. While it’s technically a vegetarian restaurant, everything can easily be made in vegan form as well. I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, as the food is thoughtful and delicious and just truly special. An overview of what we ate follows. If you’re interested, more detail + photos can be found on my blog:

Portobello mousse, truffled toast, pear compote:
This dish was beautifully (and deliciously) composed: a square of silky mousse, a few perfectly roasted whole mushrooms, a mound of sweet compote, and truffle-laced toast. Photos really don't do it justice. If you like mushrooms, you must order this.

Steamed bbq carrot buns and cucumber salad with sesame seeds and carrot halvah:
YUM. These buns were sweet, fluffy, delicious pillows of carrot-y filled goodness. I loved them. The accompanying cucumber salad with halvah was a huge winner as well, and I’d gladly order an entire plate of it alone for any meal.

Chard gnocchi, grilled chard with garlic granola and drunken fig jam:
When we asked for recommendations, our waitress steered us toward the gnocchi, insisting that the dish was incredible. She was right. The gnocchi were fluffy and carb-y like a gnocchi should be, but the chard provided an element of earthiness that made you feel like you were still eating your vegetables. The flavor combo of the chard + granola + fig jam was an intriguing pairing on paper, and plate-licking good in practice.

Coconut poached tofu, shiso galangal sauce, salsify, and hearts of palm:
This was the least exciting of all the dishes we ordered. I make tofu at home all the time, and this preparation wasn’t so exotic that it left me weak in the knees. That said, there wasn’t a morsel left over, so we definitely liked it a great deal.

Rosemary eggplant Tiramisu, rosemary cotton candy, mascarpone:
While the tiramisu was delicious, and had kind of a smoky eggplant hint to its flavoring, we really ordered this dish for the cotton candy. I love rosemary and cotton candy separately, and my taste buds didn’t really know what to do with the fusion of the two flavors at first. But then I had another bite and was undeniably addicted. I found myself wondering how much counter space a cotton candy machine would take up in our apartment so we could make it at home. Seriously, this cotton candy is a star.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Woah, that gnocchi is the color of green slime. Pretty wild!

    How was the seating, by the way, and do you think the restaurant would be too small for a group of six? I've only been once and it was years ago, so I don't remember the seating situation very clearly.

    Thanks for the review!

    5 Replies
    1. re: michelleats

      The seating was pretty tight. While I think they could accomodate a group of six, your party would take up about a quarter of the restaurant. I wouldn't go with a group of people you don't know that well, since in my view, the small space makes it feel kind of intimate.

      1. re: HealthyPantz

        Thanks. Yeah, I remember it being really narrow and cramped and figured six would be a tight fit.

      2. re: michelleats

        I can't imagine that it fits six, but I also don't remember the seating situation very clearly. On Open Table, if you enter party of 6, it says "Your party size is larger than Dirt Candy's limit for online reservations."

        I had chard gnocchi years ago at Al Di La, and it is still among the most memorable things I've eaten. Dirt Candy was so wonderful when we last went; I want to get back there soon!

        1. re: rose water

          Thanks so much, Rose Water! I value your opinion!

          1. re: michelleats

            Thanks, michelleats, and same to you!

            Alas, I got this from a Dirt Candy email on Friday: "The Celery Salad has been replaced by a Cabbage salad that is a cabbage party in your mouth. And just last week, the Carrot Buns went to take a rest while the amazing Tomato Cake took over for a while."

            The celery salad was just awesome--savory, rich mushrooms interspersed with bright celery intensity, cut with grilled grapes. It was by far the most memorable part of my meal, and I'm sorry to see it, and the carrot buns everyone on this thread were excited about, off the menu.

      3. It's the buns I really want! I've been meaning to go here for a long time; thanks for reminding me that it's worth it.