Monday, March 30, 2009

Comment Card: Dirt Candy

Stone Grits with Tempura Egg at Dirt Candy

I am an unabashed carnivore, but I'm not so much of a blood-thirsty meat fiend that I'll ever try my hand at the Bacon Explosion. Veggies definitely have their place in my diet. However, if I'm dining out, I will rarely order the vegetarian dish. Usually, when I hear the word "vegetarian" from the server, my brain registers "snoozefeast". I must have been inspired by Morrissey's recent meat decree, because I had an inexplicable pull to try the new vegetarian hotspot, Dirt Candy.

Dirt Candy is a small, cheery restaurant in the East Village. The chef aims to elevate the vegetable as the centerpiece ingredient of each dish and seems to shun the typical approach of vegetarian cuisine as "health food", substantiated by the fact that the first dish listed on the menu is Hush Puppies.

I went with my friend Sabina, arriving hungry and ready to eat. I ordered the following:

Starter: Jalapeno hush puppies with maple butter
Main: Stone Grits with corn and a tempura poached egg
Dessert: Ricotta Fritters with green tomato marmalade, lemon olive oil ice cream

I grew up in Alabama and have had my fair share of Hush Puppies. These didn't disappoint. The puppies had a wonderfully fried crunch on the outside and the jalapeno gave it a nice kick. The maple butter added a dollop of sweetness to every bite. The grits were flavorful and had the perfect consistency, but it was the richness of the tempura egg, served on top of the grits, that made this dish so satisfying. In my opinion, the best thing that I had that night was the dessert--so light and delicious. The olive oil ice cream eaten with the ricotta was heaven in my mouth. The dessert was served with a dehydrated tomato slice, which was slightly too sour, but I could see what they were going for as a flavor counterpoint to the sweetness of the dessert.

Food: Tasty and satisfying vegetarian food for the non-vegetarian
Service: Slightly slow, but really friendly
Ambiance: Bright, cheerful. A bit too much heat from the kitchen--dress in layers.
Price: Not too bad ($35-40/person includes 20 tip )
Verdict: Reasonably priced, wonderfully prepared ingredients--definitely worth checking out.

Dirt Candy

430 e. 9th st
NY, NY 10009


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