Zen Luxury Wild seafood and seasonal veggies get the royal treatment


The interior of the new Brooklyn outpost of East Village stalwart Wasan—which opened on Bergen near the Barclays Center in August—may be sparse as a monk’s cell, but the food is downright luxurious. That dichotomy makes perfect sense for kaiseki, a style of Japanese cooking born from the happy marriage of vegetarian Zen monastery cuisine with labor-intensive royal formality. Where else can you eat wild horse mackerel, dramatically arched on the plate like a pirate ship’s sail ($16)?

Wasan’s seaweed salad is punched up with chia seeds.

The luxury comes by way of the Waldorf Astoria’s Inagiku, where Wasan chefs Ryota Kitagawa and Kakusaburo Sakurai both worked. But the majority of the ingredients have a more rustic pedigree, with a greenmarket-driven menu featuring seasonal ingredients from Norwich Meadows Farms and specialty produce from Windfall Farms. On one visit, an eggplant amuse-bouche, carved like a hasselback potato, arrived before the pumpkin crab cakes ($9) and seaweed salad with chia seeds ($8).

At Wasan, expect quality ingredients prepared carefully. Don’t skip the lively array of house-pickled vegetables, such as sweet vinegar watermelon radishes ($7.50) and Brussels sprouts with curry vinegar. The wild Long Island fluke carpaccio is smattered with microgreens as tender as clover ($15), while the organic fried chicken is hit with citrus, scallions and soy sauce ($9.50).

The menu includes healthy ingredients, like quinoa and chia seeds, explained sommelier Toshiyuki Koizumi, speaking on behalf of the restaurant. “Because whatever you put in your mouth, it becomes part of your body.”

440 Bergen Street
Brooklyn Address
(347) 725-3550

Taco Time Rise to a better breakfast with Farm2Tacos


We know how it goes: In those tough early hours of the morning, that tray of glazed donuts or muffins at your morning meeting beckon mightily. However, one thing is for certain: Those breakfast treats will book you a one-way-ticket to sugar crash town.

Now to save you (and your office-mates) from those carbohydrate-fueled crashes, Bharat Chopra is bringing morning taco deliciousness directly to your door with his delivery business, Farm2Tacos. Chopra was raised in Boston and then globetrotted to Singapore, Malaysia and Chicago. But it wasn’t until he ended up in Austin, Texas that he was exposed to the magic of breakfast tacos where he says they are revered “more as a way of life than food.”

Farm2Tacos’ fillings are organic, local, creative—and delish.

Chopra has teamed up with Sara Grizzle, a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute and the owner of Poco restaurant, to make sure the tacos are not only tasty, but also filled with organic and local ingredients.

You’ll never find any GMOs in a Farm2Taco taco, but you will find Flying Pigs Farm bacon and organic eggs in the El Clasico, and kale from W. Rogowski Farm, as well as quinoa and cauliflower in the El Green-go. All tacos are served on organic corn tortillas made with New York-grown corn.

For now, the minimum order is 30 tacos ($150). We see this as more of a boon than a bane, as it’s a way to make your colleagues very, very happy. Don’t forget the fresh organic light or dark roast coffee for 20 people ($40).

Companies like WeWork, LinkedIn, Condé Nast and Pypestream have all jumped on the taco bandwagon. Don’t you want to be next in line?


Garden Of Eden A vegan restaurant that serves edible art


Everyone at Avant Garden is eager to talk about the food. The roasted king oyster mushroom with smoked macadamia nuts ($18) is the most popular item on the menu, a cook tells us as he leans across the marble slab bar. But the potato cannelloni ($17), he adds proudly, is the most ambitious. That ambition informs everything at this 30-seat vegan restaurant, where you’re more likely to find flourishes like delicate tendrils anointing dishes just-so than casual greens-and-grains bowls.

It’s the fruition of restaurateur Ravi DeRossi’s (Mother of Pearl, Bergen Hill) long-held desire for a vegan restaurant. His biggest challenge has always been finding the right chef. Bergen Hill’s executive chef, Andrew D’Ambrosi, tinkered for two years to create Avant Garden’s refined menu and now runs its open kitchen, which is framed by black and gold paint and a hanging tree branch, as if in a fairytale. Plates are presented like miniature pieces of art, composed with attention to the shape of a swipe of sauce and the color in bright cubes of beets.

Avant Garden’s kale panzanella with olives and warm croutons.

The food may lean fancy, but it’s not all fussy. A section of the menu is devoted to toasts, including roasted eggplant with Calabrian chile and pickled shallot ($12), and one night, two chic women leaned over a bowl of spaghetti pomodoro ($18) as if they were sharing a newspaper.

Nor is the food without a cause. In conjunction with the restaurant’s opening, DeRossi launched BEAST (Benefits to End Animal Suffering Today), a nonprofit animal advocacy group that will host, sponsor and promote events from which the proceeds will be donated to animal rights organizations. The goal, DeRossi says, is to make the environmental- and animal-friendly vegan ethos cool, not sanctimonious—less hippie, more happening.

Give Me Some Sugar Stay, play and feast on cheese at Sugar House Creamery

Margot Brooks and Alex Eaton are living the cheese dream: They met in college, fell in love, worked together at the award-winning Consider Bardwell Farm and then bought their own 22-acre place in the Adirondacks, which they call Sugar House Creamery.

Sugar House Creamery is an agricultural system that is small by design: The duo milks a small herd of hearty Brown Swiss cows that can withstand the tenacious winters, and any leftover whey from cheese made with their antibiotic- and hormone-free milk goes to a local pig farm.

Photo credit: Lisa J Godfrey

The farm sells at local farmers markets and from their on-site farm store. Luckily for us New Yorkers, they ship their cheese to a handful of shops (like the wonderful Bedford Cheese Shop) and sometimes collaborate with Crown Finish Caves, a cheese-aging facility in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

But Brooks would rather you made the trip upstate to experience her cheese at the source. “We’re more interested in people tasting our cheeses in this special place where they are made. We would like to consider our cheeses a regional specialty. This concept exists all over Europe, why not here?”

Brooks and Eaton want to make it easy for passionate eaters to do just that: Not only are they farmers, but they are also Airbnb hosts with two spaces, a Carriage Barn with kitchen and a cozy Guest Suite, available. You’ll wake up to a warm loaf of freshly baked bread, fruit and (of course) cheese and the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping small farmers do the work they love best.

Filfil So Good Flavor reigns with a cold-busting hot sauce


This cold season, instead of gagging down cloves of garlic to keep the sniffles at bay , we’re going to shower everything we eat with Filfil No. 7 Garlic Hot Sauce.

With over 20 cloves of non-GMO cold-busting garlic packed into each bottle, the sauce ($10 for 8.5 oz) is an immune-boosting, blood pressure-lowering dream come true. Plus, the condiment is damn tasty, too.

The bold, sunset orange color and rich flavor of the vegan sauce comes from the interaction between garlic, vinegar and paprika without any sugar or preservatives.

Brooklyn-based Co-founders, Einav and Jeff.

We’re suckers for do-gooder companies, but those that make the hard choice to switch to higher-caliber ingredients are even sweeter in our minds. Brooklyn residents and co-founders Einav Sharon and Jeff Silva reformulated their product to use heirloom, non-GMO, California-grown Christoper Ranch garlic and non-GMO canola oil.

They told us, “As a company that focuses on health and nutrition, it was critical for us to make sure our garlic and our oil are of the most premium quality. We worked with many kinds of garlic and oil initially and we chose to switch to non-GMO. Specifically, expeller-pressed oil (a mechanical process which squeezes the oil out of the vegetable) gets the most nutrition out of the seeds, versus solvent extracted oil (a chemical process whereby a solvent is used to remove the oil) was a clear choice for us.”

The word filfil means “pepper” in Arabic, and their recipe is a remastered version of the North African staple filfil chuma (“pepper and garlic”). We’re shaking the sauce on our morning scrambled eggs, swirling it into plain yogurt for an instant dip, charging up our avocado toast and applying it liberally to roast chicken.

More happy garlic breath in your future is all but guaranteed, as Sharon and Silva are set to unveil Filfil No. 6, a garlic spread and marinade, soon.

Fresh Start Indie Fresh is like having a private wellness Chef


We fashion ourselves pretty decent home cooks, but sometimes you’ve just got to let the professionals do what they do best.

Chef Akhtar Nawab (La Esquina, Craftbar and Gramercy Tavern) is bringing the organic chicken salad ($12) and chilled tomato, hemp heart and lentil soup ($12) straight to your front door with Indie Fresh—a line of deliverable soups, salads, mashes, smoothies and juices. Indie Fresh’s in-house dietitian, Bridget Bennett (she was featured in Super Size Me) gives the menu a full wellness check and every menu item features a calorie and protein count. The setup (it’s both a brick and mortar spot at Gotham West Market and delivery service) is reminiscent of another favorite of ours, Café Clover, where a chef brings the flavor, and a nutritionist backs up the food with certified approval.

Get a custom cooler box of colorful concoctions delivered nationwide.

Founder Shom Chowdhury (the former COO of Juice Press) says, “The market is flooded with diet plans, cleanses and other concepts that made the customer sacrifice something whether that be calories, taste or convenience. With Indie Fresh, the idea is that there is no ‘cheat day’—it’s a sustainable way to eat healthy every day.”

The foundation of the totally gluten- and dairy-free menu is made up of bone broths and soups. If the sound of borscht has you running the other way, just wait until you get a spoonful of the tasty bison borscht ($12) with chia seeds and Tuscan kale.

For something on the sweeter side, the almond cacao nib smoothie blended with coconut water and almond butter tasted like an Oreo milkshake (truly, we say that with the highest praise). We love that you can get any of the shakes on the menu as a 16 oz. for $11, or just satiate a craving with the very reasonable 4.5 oz. size for $3.

Pro tip: Indie Fresh also ships their food nationwide. So let the chefs do their cheffing, and send a custom cooler box of jars filled with the best-selling butternut squash, and chicken soup boosted with maca root powder and jalapeños ($12) to a friend with the sniffles.

Indie Fresh
Gotham West Market
600 11th Ave.

Pasta With A Purpose Inside this airy Italian restaurant is earthy, organic food


What is most apparent at La Pecora Bianca, the NoMad neighborhood’s new airy Italian spot, is a sense of balance. Dishes on this market-driven menu are as thoughtfully composed as they are procured.

With West Village Claudette already under his belt, restaurateur Mark Barak knows what he’s doing. The 85-seat space is breezy and bright by day, votive-soft by night, and puts its energy into il prodotto (the ingredient) rather than la tecnica (the technique).

La Pecora Bianco is located in the historic St James Building, built in 1896.

Pastas are made in-house each morning from New York and Pennsylvania-grown organic grains (a gluten-free option, made with corn or rice flour, is available upon request). There are as many whole-grain options as the bulk section of a co-op, from curly gramigna, made from ancient einkorn wheat, red fife tagliatelle and emmer maccheroni. Pasture-raised meat comes from Hudson Valley purveyors and includes a blistered roast chicken on a bed of mushrooms, corn and pickled serrano chiles ($26).

Vegetarians, take note: Chef Simone Bonelli knows how to gild a lily without going too far, supporting seasonal vegetables in salads and side dishes with small doses of intensely flavored ingredients. Charred rainbow carrots arrive doused with sheep’s milk labne, coriander seeds, honey and hazelnuts ($8), and roasted peppers bathe in a pool of romesco ($8). Just as raw ribbons of zucchini, lovely on their own, become even more so with buttery marcona olives, mint and a snow shower of pecorino ($12). To order them, along with some country bread, is to want for nothing.

La Pecora Bianca
1133 Broadway, New York, NY 10010
(212) 498-9696

Comfort Inn Burgers, mac'n'cheese and ice cream sandwiches go vegan


Chef Chloe Coscarelli is an equal opportunist.

When it comes to juicy burgers, crispy wontons and gooey mac n’cheese, she thinks vegans can have just as much fun as their meat- and dairy-eating pals.

Coscarelli is the best-selling author of the cookbooks Chloe’s Vegan Desserts and Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, and her new Greenwich Village restaurant, By Chloe, is the edible incarnation of the happy vegan spirit found in her books.

Vegans (and their friends) need not feel ostracized by fussy ingredients or banished to some strange hole-in-the-wall when they are eating at this bright and welcoming spot, complete with a grab-and-go case and a communal table.

Sit back, relax and Enjoy all that this vegan joint has to offer.

Everything on the menu—from the classic burger ($9) with sunset pink beet ketchup to the kale cookies + cream ice cream sandwich ($5)—is about easy eating that is completely vegan, plant-based and kosher certified, all without saturated animal fats, preservatives and artificial flavors.

Get in while corn is still in season for the market side of street corn cobbettes with lemon and thyme ($2.50). An upgraded almond parmesan crumble steps in for the usual cojita cheese, but the delicious charred kernels remain.

Pro tip: By Chloe has ginormous portion sizes to match its comfort food vibe. You’d do well to order the spicy Thai salad ($11) with the peanut dressing on the side, and take home half of the apricot-sriracha glazed tempeh with quinoa and crispy wontons for later.

Folks have already been clamoring so much for more kale caesars with shitake bacon ($10) and roasted banana bourbon ice cream ($5) that the team has already announced a sophomore location in the Flatiron District, scheduled to open next spring.

By Chloe
185 Bleecker St.

Call Of The Wild Wildair does it right on the Lower East Side


It’s a bar? It’s a restaurant? It’s Wildair.

And with food and drinks this delicious, it doesn’t matter how Wildair wants to categorize itself.

The very talented Fabian Von Hauske (Jean-Georges, Noma) and Jeremiah Stone (Rino, Isa) have opened this Lower East Side spot just two doors down from their original creation, Contra.

While Wildair may be more informal than the tasting-menu-only Contra, the menu is packed with ambition and creativity.

Go somewhere else if you’re seeking a kale Caesar, but come here if you’re ready to start your meal with breakfast radishes in a swirled palette of seaweed butter ($9), summer squash with ricotta and tart, omega-3 packed purslane ($9) or a head of lettuce showered with sesame and flax seeds and a whipped buttermilk dressing ($8).

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart. Need we say more.

The affable staff circulating the communal high-top tables and herringbone patterned oak floor makes it easy to pick a little, drink a little and then order an extra dish of Georgia white shrimp poached in olive oil ($12) and eat some more.

Most of the menu happens to be gluten-free, and vegetables are sourced from the Greenmarket as a matter of course. Van Hauske and Stone also work with farmers to grow ingredients specifically for the restaurant.

For wine buffs (or those who just want a good glass with dinner), this is a place to move to the top of your list. The wine list is packed with natural and biodynamic wines and naturally fermented (without the addition of sugar and yeast) lightly sparkling wines with a low alcohol content called pétillant naturels.

138 Orchard St.

Good Fortune Old school soy sauce meets garden-fresh Chinese food


Kings County Imperial is unlike any neighborhood Chinese joint you know. For evidence, look no farther than the soy sauce.

Fermented in small-batches by a fourth-generation soy sauce family in southern China, the inky elixir is dispensed from a wood-handled tap behind the bar. It’s a center stage tip-off to the serious sourcing happening throughout the restaurant.

The menu of this new Williamsburg restaurant opened by Josh Grinker and Tracy Jane Young (the team behind Park Slope’s Stone Park Cafe), is driven as much by the cuisine of Central China as the working garden in back.

Get a load of that day boat catch! Photo credit: Levi Miller

Dishes hew to the classics, but their ingredients are just-picked: The weeping tiger salad ($9) is a leafy tangle of cilantro hit with long peppers and dried shrimp, and a bright foil to thick wedges of garlic-smacked Kung Pao-style eggplant ($9). In its first year, the raised beds—planned by a Brooklyn Botanical Garden horticulturalist to make the most of the tight space—have been wild with Chinese greens like tat soi and choy sum, long beans and goji berries. The restaurant plans to triple its output next year.

Order the day’s Shanghai soup dumplings and you’ll be rewarded with brothy purses filled early each morning with Berkshire heritage pork ($12). The whole fish, dependent on the dayboat catch off Eastern Long Island, is steamed with black beans and arrives on the plate feted with ginger and scallion confetti (market price). The crispy garlic chicken ($24) is Lancaster County-bred organic and polished with honey from Younger’s own backyard bees.

There’s take-out for local Williamsburg-ers, but the space is perfect for a sit-down date: Cast in an amber glow, the opium den dining room is pure romance. This is food for more than a Netflix night.

Kings County Imperial
20 Skillman Avenue, Brooklyn
718 610 2000