New York City, known for its cheesy pizzas and greasy hot dogs, is slowly being overtaken by vegans.
Several new restaurants selling strictly vegetables are slated to open in Manhattan in the coming months as even food-obsessed New Yorkers try to eat more healthfully.
“Vegan food is not a fad, though some people may still treat it that way. It’s a lifestyle choice and more people are doing it. This is the way New York is going,” says restaurateur Nima Garos, of Raise Hospitality, who runs vegan hotspot JaJaJa Plantas Mexicana in Chinatown and Williamsburg.
Garos would know. He and his partner Koorosh Bakhtiar are gearing up to open a third, much larger JaJaJa Plantas Mexicana, known for its seitan “chorizo” tacos. The 1,750-square-foot West Village space will serve as the brand’s flagship location and will boast an expanded menu from its six-seat Chinatown location (known for no reservations and lines out the door) and the Williamsburg spot.
In another sign that veganism is growing, restaurateur Ravi DeRossi is opening yet another vegan eatery this week — Night Music, an Indian spot in the East Village.
DeRossi, who made his name in the East Village bar scene with the award-winning cocktail bar Death & Co, is known in the food business for transforming his older restaurants into vegan eateries, including closing the Bourgeoise Pig so it could become vegan tapas wine bar Ladybird.
DeRossi says he changed his older restaurants to vegan eateries once he grew out of his “blackout” drinking days to become a vegan convert of sorts.
Also coming is a six-month pop-up of Farmacy Kitchen, the trend-setting plant-based restaurant from Camilla Fayed — daughter of Harrods’ former owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed, and sister of Princess Diana’s ex, Dodi. When it opened in London in 2016 it was considered way ahead of its time. Not anymore.
The pop-up Farmacy Kitchen will take up “residency” at the Chefs Club Counter in SoHo on Sept. 13.
“People are interested in health, which is a good thing,” agreed New York University nutrition expert Marion Nestle. “By this time, lots of people understand that the healthiest diets are based largely on plant foods — fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains — and that our health and that of the planet would be better if we ate less meat.”
Still, she adds: “Less meat does not necessarily mean none.”
Garos says he welcomes part-time and non-vegans as well.
“We can’t convert everyone to a plant-based diet. But our goal is to be welcoming, to bring in part-time vegans and to even bring non-vegans in for cocktails,” Garos said.
“We aren’t promoting that this is a plant-based restaurant. We just want to bring people in and show them a good time,” he added.
His JaJaJa West Village flagship, which opens Sept. 5, will include 90 seats and an outdoor garden space — plus 12 seats at a “zinc bar.”
The garden area will feature a take-out window that opens to the kitchen. A private events space is slated to open in the downstairs space later this fall.
The Greenwich Village menu will include a $13 chimichurri eggplant and a $13 burger with a black bean, quinoa patty.
Cocktails include a $13 pressed cucumber juice with lime, basil and vodka; a $13 drink made with mezcal, cilantro, jalapeño, and pineapple juice; and a celery and snap pea cocktail.
St. Barth’s sixth-annual Gourmet Festival takes place this fall — another sign of recovery from a hurricane that wrecked the West Indies island in 2017.
The festival, which will be held Nov. 6-10, “reaffirms our position as the culinary capital of the Caribbean,” says Nils DuFau, president of the St. Barth Tourism Committee.
This year’s festival, which in the past has been hosted by New York-based Jean-Georges Vongerichten, focuses on French cuisine and will pair French Michelin-starred chefs with local chefs to create gourmet meals. A series of dinners will be held at fancy spots like the Hotel Christopher, Hotel Le Toiny, Le Sereno, Le Tamarin, L’Esprit Jean-Claud Dufour and Nikki Beach.
The island, a mere 9.26 square miles, was hit hard by hurricane Irma, which destroyed hotels and restaurants as New York billionaires and boldface names stayed away.
Since then, new restaurants have popped up, roads have been reconstructed and the last of the major hotel renovations have been completed.
We hear … that Hidden Lane, a cocktail bar at 129 E. 15th St., between Third Avenue and Irving Place, has just opened. The 2,200-square-foot space features 110 seats. It includes a private back patio with a hand-painted mural by Eva Buchmuller featuring a woman’s face veiled by the garden’s hanging ivy. The main bar, hidden behind greenery, is below ground level. It features a semi-private back room lit by an infinity box that reads both “I Love You” and “I’m Over You.” There’s also a second-floor bar. The design is by New World Design Builders, known for ABC Kitchen and Plunge Rooftop Bar and Lounge at the Gansevoort Hotel.
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