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Raw food restaurant on Vanderbilt--report

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Raw food restaurant on Vanderbilt--report

Tom Philpott | Sep 30, 2002 05:05 PM

Ever heard of the "raw-food" movement? It's based on the theory that the "Standard American Diet"--known, pointedly, as SAD--is slowly killing us by cooking away the healthful enzymes in food. (Forget, for a second, that most cultures apply heat to food.)
At any rate, raw foods has caught on among super models and other trend setters, and we now have a restaurant devoted to it in little ol' Prospect Heights, on Vanderbilt near St. Marks Place. (The name escapes me.)
This small shop-front place is dominated by its kitchen, which takes up two-thirds or more of the space. (The rest is devoted to a couple of tables and a service counter.)
When I went on a recent Sunday afternoon, the place was abuzz with four of five cooks cutting, shredding, slicing, dicing mixing, and doing just about everything you can imagine to food save for cooking it. They were very serious--not grim, but quite focused.
Most ingredients are organic, and look very fresh.
I ordered falafal from the menu and the nori-roll special.
The falafal was--I think--made of fermented chickpeas, crushed and mixed with parsley, etc. Three balls arrive over a bed of sprouts and mixed greens, doused with a tahini sauce.
Was it good? Well, sort of. First of all, it lacked bread, because it's exceedingly hard to create the "staff of life" without cooking grains. The falafal itself has a bit of a dry texture, but it tasted pleasantly of garlic and parsley. It's not as good as the real article, but not bad either.
The nori roll was more successful. I can't remember the roster of fruits and veggies it included--avocado and mango both figured--but the flavors melded well.
I also had a glass of the melon/lemon juice--which was delicious and refreshing, and worth the $3 price tag.
I have to admit that I felt very good and refreshed after eating this food--energized, even.
Verdict: These are serious people rigorously working through a theory that probably contains a grain--raw, no doubt--of truth. I'll happily eat here when I'm feeling SAD from too much heavy food. (I don't think, however, it would do the trick for a hangover.)
Note: While you're waiting, have a look at the raw-foods zine sitting on the counter. It's called "Eat an Apple." It's so zealous that even this restaurant falls short of its rigor; for example, it denounces the practice of juicing.

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