Pure Food and Wine was probably the first raw, vegan, gluten-free vegetarian restaurant in NYC that is still outstanding and buzzed about today. It opened TEN years ago in 2004 and is one of the most shocking and delicious meals I’ve had this year. With all the diet and health fads that come and go, this is one that is definitely not flying out soon, and it’s amazing to me that the founder Sarma was so far ahead of the curve. While, I’m not a vegetarian by any means, I do have a soft spot for its kind. I’ve always heard about Pure Food and Wine but never made it in due to the talk about high prices.
Sweet Corn and Cashew Tamales with Chili Spiced Portabella
The space is in the most quaint street in Gramercy, Irving, and you could easily miss it if you aren’t paying attention. The room on a Tuesday night was packed, full of red hughes, dimly light and could use a little update or refresh. The staff is all very excited and how could you not be? I’m sure they prove carnivores wrong every night who are afraid of being satisfied without meat. We started with the Wild Arugula, Curly Red Mustard Greens and Fresh Figs Salad. All of the presentations here look like art work. The use of space, colors and sauce finishes makes you forget that you are staring back at food. The salad is light and refreshing- a typical salad but a nice sweet kick with the figs which are the best part. I’m dying to try the Cornbread Pudding with Pickled Shishito Peppers appetizer next time. Anything with kale, pumpkin, shishito peppers and corn salt sounds dynamite. All of my friends advised me to try the Zucchini and Heirloom Tomato Lasagna and based on the pairs around us, at least one was placed on every table. It’s a great substitute when you are craving a red sauced pasta and very heavy on the pesto. However, the dish that legit knocked my socks off and caused my brain and taste buds to almost shut down was the Sweet Corn and Cashew Tamales with Chili Spiced Portabella. Honestly, I think this is the best tamale I’ve ever had…and I can’t believe it’s vegetarian. The smooth yet textured and nutty inside due to most likely the cashews is a little sweet due to the coconut. Dip it in the raw cacao mole and there you have one of the best bites of anything all to yourself. I’m absolutely obsessed and overwhelmed by how outstanding this dish is. If I had the ability to give out awards, I’d give this one something immediately. Some might think $26 for this is a bit hefty especially if you prefer a good piece of fish over a tamale, but I’m telling you it’s damn worth it. When do you ever have access to something as creative and though provoking as this with thoughtful ingredients? Try it.
Also, so you are prepared, everything here is served cold because, duh, it’s raw. Now onto my favorite but of every night-dessert. I had an impossible time deciding between a Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart with Peppermint Stick Ice Cream, Layered Gingerbread Cake with Cinnamon-Spice Snap Cookie and Pumpkin Ice Cream but I went with my favorite style of sweet – a sundae. The Mint Sundae with Chocolate Mint Cookies crumbled upon the Vanilla and Chocolate dairy-free, raw ice creams with chocolate and cherry sauces is heavenly. I’ve been known to clean up a sundae or two real well – it’s mind over matter y’all. The upside of this one is that it’s dairy-free, gluten-free and while not calorie free, a lot better for digesting than most sundaes. It’s to die for. My only regret here was not ordering every other dessert immediately. I mean I am truly blown away by Pure Food and Wine. It’s truly incredible what Sarma has done here and I guarantee you will have quite the memorable experience here.
Try something different and out of your comfort zone, you never know what it will open you up to next.