Pure Food and Wine has the reputation of taking raw and vegan food to the next level. I had tried samplings of the food at events before, and each time I was incredibly impressed by the freshness of the produce and the combination of flavors. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I didn’t leave all that impressed. One dish really blew me away, but everything else had flaws. The atmosphere is nice and the health-conscious element is always appealing, but when you’re spending as much as you are spending at Pure Food and Wine, I would expect the food to be better.
Salad of Chicories with Bourbon Cask Sour Cherries: This salad was also topped with salsify bacon, lapsang smoked walnuts and a buttermilk dressing. I definitely liked this salad. The buttermilk dressing was really tasty, the smoked walnuts added a nice crunch and the cherries felt like little treasures when you came across one. While I know you need to approach vegan dishes without trying to compare them to their meaty counterparts, I couldn’t help but be disappointed by the salsify bacon. Obviously it is in no way like bacon, but the crunchy flat rods were overseasoned and they overpowered all the other great flavors in the dish. To me, it lacked the salty accompaniment that bacon normally adds to a dish and instead took over with “barbecued” flavoring that really didn’t resemble or taste anything like bacon.
Zucchini, Local Heirloom Tomato Lasagna: This dish was the winner with a basil pistachio pesto, sun-dried tomato marinara and macadamia pumpkin seed ricotta. The flavors were amazing, the textures were just right, and it’s a much healthier version of traditional lasagna. The tomato and zucchini were layered perfectly to resemble true lasagna and even had a texture that would have you questioning whether or not there were layers of pasta in there. I particularly liked the pistachio pesto and the “ricotta.” Again, both had a great texture and really great flavor. If you’re ever at Pure Food and Wine, this is the dish to get.
Hen of the Woods Tacos al Pastor: Watermelon radishes! I was very excited when this dish came to the table but disappointed with the proportionality of the components. 3 or 4 VERY SMALL tacos that looked more like uncooked taquitos came atop a dish that was mainly hearts of palm with smoked guacamole, chayote squash, and pickled onions. The tacos were pretty good, but seeing as there were only 3 the size of my thumb, I questioned why this dish was called Hen of the Woods (a type of mushroom) Tacos, when it was more about the hearts of palm. I can tolerate hearts of palm, but the texture isn’t my favorite, and I wouldn’t have gone for this dish if I knew it was the main component. I also felt that the flavoring, in order to be good, needed to be perfectly blended in each bite. You had to have a little guacamole, squash, hearts of palm and pickled onion in each bite to really enjoy the flavor combination, which was frustrating. Overall I thought this was a failed dish.
Frozen Black Forest Shortcake: This came with chocolate cherry ice cream, almond chocolate cream and sake sesame fruit. It reminded me a lot of an Italian tartufo. I liked the cherry ice cream and I liked the almond chocolate cream. The shortcake, however, tasted like a stale biscuit and the sake sesame fruit didn’t have a particularly strong sake or sesame flavoring. Overall I thought it was all right, but for the price, I could have done without it.
Pure Food and Wine: 54 Irving Place New York, NY ($$$)