Yes, You Can Have A Plant-Based Meal With Flava at Urban Vegan Kitchen

Urban Vegan Kitchen as seen from Carmine Street

When it comes to food, I am always up for an adventure. When it comes to dining out, I prefer a sexier environment that is chill with unique design elements. When these two things are combined, I am a happy camper, and this is the case with Urban Vegan Kitchen. I attended the grand opening event in late October directly after a hot yoga class, ready to eat, drink, and learn more about the new culinary outpost. As I have many friends and family members that are vegetarian (some vegan), I am always in search of restaurants that have plant-based meals that I can equally enjoy.

The brainchild of co-founders Pamela Elizabeth, of Blossom Du Jour fame, and David Tianga, Urban Vegan Kitchen serves up vegan soul food in the former space of Blossom on Carmine. Once crossing the threshold inside, I was immersed into a super cozy space of white-painted exposed brick walls, standard table & cocktail table seating, lounge chairs, with framed photographs and posters hung on every wall. The lights were dim, evoking a sexy, but not too sexy nighttime vibe, with sounds spanning A Tribe Called Quest to salsa hits played by the DJ of the evening.

Menus & cocktail table seating

The dining area was separated from the kitchen with a glass block wall (seen above), offering a distorted, light-filled peek into where the magic happens. Passed hors d’oeuvres were served throughout the evening, my favorites being the Fried Okra served with ranch dressing, and the Chickpea Hush Puppies served with a house-made remoulade. I saw folks with drinks and realized there was another level below. I arrived quite early, but once I found friends and was able to put down my gym bag, I headed downstairs for a cocktail.

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Take A Bite: Brunchin’ On A Weekday at Dominique Bistro in NYC’s West Village

Street view of Dominique Bistro

As a purveyor of all things cool and delicious in NYC, I always enjoy the opportunity to discover hidden gems in one of the greatest cities in the world. A favorite neighborhood of mine to peruse is the West Village as a majority of the pre-war constructed buildings are still intact, hosting unique retail offerings in fashion boutiques, casual-faire restaurants, and cocktail bars. Newly opened in the neighborhood is Dominique Bistro, a Parisian-style French bistro located at the historic intersection of Christopher & Gay Streets.

Interior. Photo courtesy of Dominique Bistro

I was invited by the restaurant’s public relations team to partake in a meal, and write about my experience. As a Francophile and frequenter of French bistros, I quickly agreed to the task at hand. I visited the restaurant on a sunny afternoon for brunch. Although at an iconic intersection, Dominique Bistro feels off-the-beaten path as the block was super calm, and quiet. Upon entering the facade, I was greeted by a lovely ambience which included a full wooden dining area, bar with a vast selection of wine and spirits, eye-catching artwork, and a record player playing downtempo musical selections.

Latte with half & half to start

I introduced myself to one of the servers, and was seated within minutes at a table near the windows on the left. She gave me a menu and insisted I begin with a beverage, so of course, I ordered my favorite caffeinated beverage, a latté with half & half. It was served in such a beautiful mug (above) complete with fern latté art.

I took a look around the space to get a feel of the vibe. There was an equal amount of solo diners and couples. As the dining area was pretty quiet, it is definitely good for someone who wants to work on their computer for a bit as they do have wifi. I would not recommend it for groups as it is a smaller venue.

Croque Madame served with French Onion Soup

Now, it was time to order my meal. The pressure was on, as there were so many great plates to choose from, but I finally decided on the Croque Madame from their “French Market” menu. The croque consisted of prosciutto cotto, gruyere cheese, and a sunny side egg served atop a crispy bread from Amy’s Bread. I had a side of French Onion soup to pair and add yet another cheesy element to my meal, because I absolutely love cheese.

I really enjoyed the textures and flavors of the croque, but I must say, it was not the easiest to eat. I used my steak knife to cut it into smaller pieces, which proved a bit difficult as the bread was hard to cut through. I took spoons of soup in between bites and burnt my mouth because I did not judge the cool-down effectively. I can say I was a bit embarrassed as I was sitting by myself, making a slight mess of crumbs, and burning my tongue, simultaneously. Nevertheless, the flavors were solid.

Chocolate Soufflé

Seeing my visible stress, the server asked if I would be interested in dessert, and of course I responded favorably. I am a firm believer that dessert or sweets can really turn your day around. As a huge chocolate lover, I HAD to order the Chocolate Soufflé. It came out super fresh from the kitchen in a ramekin, with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream atop a small bed of walnuts.

X-rated chocolate vibes

How could I resist this? I put my spoon in to release heat and not repeat my prior mouth burn situation, and the visual was food porn at its best, seen above. To say the chocolate and vanilla ice cream pairing was delectable may actually be an understatement. The varying temperatures paired with the crunchiness of the walnuts made it the perfectly balanced dessert.

When in the West Village, be sure to have a meal, snack, or drink at Dominique Bistro. Its inviting atmosphere and delicious Parisian menu are a treat!

 

Dominique Bistro

14 Christopher street
West Village, NYC 10014

(646) 756-4145

 

All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

I received a complimentary meal at Dominique Bistro.

Take A Sip: The Garret

View of the fully-stocked bar at The Garret.
View of the fully-stocked bar at The Garret.

Tucked away in an unexpected location in the West Village lies a newly-opened cocktail bar, and its name is The Garret. Housed above the Five Guys on the corner of 7th Ave South and Bleecker, The Garret is far from a dive bar, but a “refined drinking establishment”. Once walking up a set of stairs at the back of the burger joint, you are transformed into a space reminiscent of a crazy uncle that has a unique take on luxury.

A custom piece by Bradley Theodore below the mantle.
A custom piece by Bradley Theodore below the mantle.

The vibe in the space is that of an old-school salon, featuring brick walls, eclectic framed photographs, vintage books and hourglasses, paired with luxe tufted leather seating. You are given the feeling of exclusivity in the otherwise bustling neighborhood.

One such special element of The Garret is the special painting above by graffiti artist Bradley Theodore, known for his now famous street piece in Little Italy, Anna and Karl.

The night ambience.
The night ambience.

When the night falls, the space transforms from its bright feel during the day, to a sophisticated amber glow, made possible by light reflecting off the bar’s copper ceiling. Draperies on the vast windows stay open so patrons can view the streets below without feeling like they are on-the-spot. The lighting really sets the mood, and is perfect for impressing a date, in case you were wondering of course!

A show-stopping chandelier illuminates the space.
A show-stopping chandelier illuminates the space.

There are many unique design elements that make The Garret special, but the show-stopper is definitely the chandelier in the photo above. It hangs from a vaulted skylight strategically over the bar to illuminate the menus of patrons. The menu features hand-crafted cocktails from master mixologists, paired with an impressive craft beer menu, that is fairly-priced for its attention to detail.

Check out some more photos below from The Garret below. They are now open for business. Head over to their website for more!

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo