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Candle Cafe

Elegant vegetarian hotspot

$$

An affordable ($11-30) new american / asian fusion restaurant with gluten-free, naturally-sweetened, vegetarian, & vegan options in (Upper East Side) with critics pick offerings.

Mon-Sat: 11:30am-10:30pm Sun: 11:30am-9:30pm

212 472-0970

www.candlecafe.com

1307 Third Ave.

Review By Alex Van Buren

It's a good sign when you say to your waitress, Do you have a favorite dessert?” and she replies instantly, with wide eyes, Oh yes.” Naturally sweetened desserts delicious ones have several hiding places in Gotham, and the Upper East Side's Candle Café is among the best: The chocolate mousse pie here would trick even a total sugar freak.

The Candle Café, the originator of nearby Candle 79, is old school. It's been a vegetarian hotspot for fifteen years. And even at 2:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, the 3rd Avenue location remains packed with locals. Minimalist black-and-tan chairs pushed next to square wooden tables make this a casual, take-your-mom-to-lunch-and-show-her-vegan-food-is-tasty sort of place.

Indeed, the menu ranges across the vegan landscape, with smoothies (we liked a Tropical Freeze packed with mango and pineapple), salads, sandwiches, and entrées all of it organic. Those stopping in for a drink and a snack should indulge in a satisfyingly buttery-tasting tahini-based dip for focaccia, or a hearty, tasty Aztec” salad draped with quinoa, topped with sticks of grilled tempeh and punched up with corn, beans, a mélange of greens and a brown, nutty sauce. The three-tiered paradise casserole” sweet potato, black beans and millet was decent, with an earthy gravy and a pile of slightly bitter steamed bok choy, and my tofu BLT was just okay but if nothing else, stop in post-shopping for a slice of that chocolate mousse pie or one of their seasonal (also sugar-free!) pies. The chocolate treat is absolutely decadent; tofu and coconut oil are whipped into a silky mousse that's decidedly un-tofulike, with a crumbly, chocolatey spelt crust that tastes nothing like spelt. The whole concoction is sweetened with maple syrup. Paired with a glass of organic Riesling after dinner, I was the happiest (healthy) sweets freak around.