Chowhounds, even carnivorous ones, are digging Dirt Candy, a six-week-old vegetarian restaurant in the East Village. The menu is down-home with some surprises: It’s a little bit country (grits, hush puppies), a little bit other countries (smoked-tofu dumplings, kimchee doughnuts). “It is clearly not the type of veggie place that is trying to beat you over the head with its ethos,” jonasblank finds, “but rather, a restaurant serving high-end comfort food that happens not to include meat.”

One standout starter is portobello mousse, deeply flavorful and smartly paired with fennel-pear compote, spankyhorowitz says. Jalapeño hush puppies are fantastic, he adds, and served with scrumptious maple butter that had him licking his butter knife. jonasblank likes the spinach soup (with the above-mentioned tofu dumplings) and Greek salad, though he cautions that the latter is “a bit of an interpretation,” unnecessarily embellished with fried mushrooms.

Among the second courses, LES_Crawler loves stone-ground grits topped with pickled shiitakes and a tempura poached egg, a well-conceived combination of contrasting flavors and textures. (prdct, in dissent, found this “a little one-note, and a touch bland.”) jonasblank recommends Pinot Grigio pappardelle with roasted cauliflower and pine nuts. Sweet, rich carrot risotto is decorated with carrot curls and little carrot dumplings cleverly shaped like slices of carrot—“refreshing and fun,” says spanky, though he’d have preferred a little more to the dumplings than straight puréed carrot.

For dessert, chocolate cake comes with chocolate-chile ice cream and sweet potato sorbet. “I could eat it every day,” sighs spanky.

Dirt Candy [East Village]
430 E. Ninth Street (between Avenue A and First Avenue), Manhattan

Board Link: Any Reviews of Dirt Candy Yet?

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