Nice to matcha you Why matcha is the green drink on everyone's lips


Cups of frothy green matcha brought brothers Max and Graham Fortgang together during a stressful time in their lives.

Graham, a born-and-bred New Yorker, explains: “We were working around-the-clock and we didn’t have as many reasons to hang out, so we started getting together over a daily ritual of matcha. I felt myself getting sick less and I was more positive and attentive during the day without caffeine crashes.”

This brotherly love and wellness motivation are the driving forces behind the brother’s chic new Williamsburg café, MatchaBar.

If the name matcha (and the shockingly green color) is intimidating in the slightest, remember this: matcha is just powdered green tea. But instead of steeping the leaves in hot water, the entire leaf is ingested.

Wrap your hands around a warm, green, cup-O-matcha this winter!

If you’ve never tasted matcha before, prepare yourself for a fresh, grassy wallop, coupled with a creamy sweetness. Matcha comes packed with the calming amino acid L- Theanine, antioxidants (even more than gojiberries!) and roughly 70 mg of caffeine in every cup (compared to up to 110 milligrams in a cup of coffee).

Matchabar does offer Battenkill Valley Creamery cow’s milk, but the brothers try to gently steer their customers to alternatives like hemp, soy and almond milk. For an extra anti-inflammatory boost, top your latte with raw ground cinnamon (small $4.10; large $4.80).

The menu doesn’t stop with traditional Japanese preparations. Go seasonal with an iced drink that combines local Red Jacket Fuji apple juice, ginger juice and matcha (small $4.60; large $5.45). Or, go green-on-green with matcha mixed with Greenmarket cucumber juice (small $4.60; large $5.45).

These pioneers already have their eyes on the horizon: A west coast location is already in the works.

93 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg

Happy Screams Downtown Creamery does ice cream right


This summer, you (pick one):

  1. Ate too much ice cream.
  2. Didn’t consume enough ice cream.
  3. Were disheartened by the general state of crappy ice cream.

Whatever your answer, Downtown Creamery is your Autumn salvation.

For $40 a month, a bicycle will roll up to your home and deliver two pints of creamy vegan ice cream made from a base of coconut milk, cashew butter and maple syrup.

Downtown Creamery ice cream is not nearly as sweet as the commercial stuff, and the ever-rotating flavors (included chocolate and toasted almond, peaches and cream, and Concord grape sorbet) are richly complex stunners. Founder Megan Huylo says she dreams up flavors through “a combination of seasonality and creative high jinks.”

Megan huylo, Founder and Chef of Downtown creamery

Huylo’s intense relationship with food runs to her pre-teen years when she battled cancer. While undergoing chemo, Huylo’s parents gave her foods like seaweed and ginger for their nutritional and healing properties. Since then, she’s embraced a balanced, holistic, mostly plant-based approach which inform the classes she teaches at the Natural Gourmet Institute and the custom cleanses, catering and wellness coaching she offers through Downtown Epicure.

If you want to take your ice cream consumption to the next level, Huylo will even design custom flavors for you, like a salty-sweet chocolate miso combination, or a labor-intensive kabocha squash blend.

Sign us up.

Sign up for hand delivered ice cream from Downtown Creamery!

Like Mad ACME now offers an all-vegetarian tasting menu


ACME knows how to party. This Noho restaurant spent the first 25 years of its life as Acme Bar & Grill, a solid staple of New Orleans-style cooking.

In January 2012, a makeover, new management and a shooting star of a chef transformed the spot into the glitteringly hip ACME.

This summer, there’s even more to get excited about at this downtown spot: Chef Mads Refslund, who comes to Manhattan by way of Copenhagen’s Noma (frequently called the best restaurant in the world), has just launched an all-vegetarian tasting menu ($65), backed by his creative Nordic approach.

Chef Mads Refslund from Copenhagen’s Noma brings a nordic spin to Acme’s menu

Refslund’s thoughtful nine-course menu (see it here) is rife with unusual bits like foraged and pickled ingredients, and his way with vegetables is unlike any you are likely to see anywhere else around town. Take his summer cabbage, for instance: “It is one of the things on the vegetarian menu I like most,” he says. “We grill it for hours with hickory bark, thyme, lots of herbs, which gives it a smoky flavor, and then we serve the cabbage heart with fermented pear juice and coriander.”

Refslund is also a strong proponent of seasonality and local sourcing. “It’s very, very important to make people think about eating more vegetables and care for Mother Earth; it’s ultimately going to make the world a better place for people to eat more vegetables—and not just any vegetables, good vegetables, that are well raised, without pesticides, by small farmers.”

We think that sentiment is the hippest of all.

What is Nordic cuisine?

The Sweetest Thing Our bakery guide has your next craving covered


You know that old adage, “There’s someone for everyone”? And while we can’t comment on your future soulmate prospects, we can say emphatically that whoever you are—and whatever your diet—there is a bakery for you in Manhattan. You could say finding sweet satisfaction is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. For Power Paleos: Hu Kitchen

The founders behind this Union Square real food mecca don’t mince words when it comes to their philosophy, “We think sugar in any form isn’t great for you…but we also love sweets, so our approach is to be smart about how we use sweeteners.” A commitment to zero corn syrup, cane sugar and artificial sweeteners is why we stock up on seriously good raw cacao and unrefined organic coconut sugar chocolate bars ($6), raw nut brownies ($4.50) or even sweet kale crunch ($7; try it, you’ll like it) whenever we swing through.


2. For Gluten Avoiders: Jennifer’s Way Bakery 
Vertical-middleThe fact that actress Jennifer Esposito owns this East Village bakery isn’t even the sweetest thing about it—it’s that Esposito (a diagnosed celiac) is militant about banishing gluten while maintaining quality. Stop in for pear-cardamom mini muffins ($2) and coconut-dusted donuts ($3) that are not only free of gluten, but also dairy, soy, egg, corn and refined sugar. Nationwide shipping is in the works, so stay tuned for your out-of-town gluten-free buddies.

3. For the Very Vegan: Vegan Divas 

As the wife of master French pastry chef François Payard, Fernanda Capobianco knows from good pastry. Her flagship bakery on the Upper East Side kicks animal products to the curb and employs organic spelt flour, maple syrup, cold pressed coconut oil and apple cider vinegar in the kitchen.
For baked good emergencies, oatmeal raisin cookies with chili powder ($3) and chocolate-covered “donettes” (mini donuts; $3) are available for same-day delivery throughout the five boroughs.

Hu Kitchen • 78 Fifth Ave.

Jennifer’s Way Bakery • 263 E. 10th St.

Vegan Divas • 1437 First Ave.

Behind the Wheel Drive Change is poised to change the food scene forever


When it comes to food trucks, we feel like we’ve seen (and eaten) it all.

But the farm-driven food with a big helping of social justice that we found at the new Snowday truck? Even we had to admit; we’d never seen that on the menu before.

Jordyn Lexton and her social enterprise venture, Drive Change, are behind Snowday. The trucksayingtruck’s mission is to not only serve delicious “farm-to-truck” food, but also to hire, train and empower formerly-incarcerated youth, allowing them to live crime-free futures full of opportunity.

In three years spent teaching at Rikers Island’s East River Academy high, Lexton says that, “Even in a devastating environment, a sense of self-esteem and pride came through in the one culinary arts class that was offered.” She went on to glean wisdom from the likes of the Kimchi Taco Truck and a Union Square Hospitality Group training course, before launching Drive Change.
thetruckNow Drive Change’s first truck, Snowday, is rolling around town serving a menu based around pure New York State maple syrup, and one very sweet back story. We’re particularly ga-ga for the quinoa salad with a maple-Dijon dressing ($6) and the grilled cheese made with local sharp cheddar, sourdough bread and a swoop of maple syrup ($6).

Time to hit the streets. See what’s on their menu here.

A salad bowl to end all salad bowls Dimes on the Lower East Side

Our kind of bowling

You can’t always get what you want.

Sometimes you get much, much more.

That’s what happened to Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner, the two ladies behind Dimes.

“We just wanted to open a tiny neighborhood café with nice juice, healthy breakfasts and food that we loved for lunch!” exclaims De Sousa.

Somehow their nugget of a dream has blossomed into a spot that’s an all-day anchor for the downtown neighborhood, and a gleaming beacon for anyone interested in eating food that is as wellness-focused as it is delicious and stylishly-presented.

Tuck into an antioxidant-packed acai bowl with kale, ginger, lime, hempseeds and honey ($8.50) over breakfast.

Wide lunchtime salad bowls are heaped with the best of what’s at the Union Square Farmer’s market, like kale, wild mushroom, snowpeas and buckwheat served with an herbed yogurt dressing ($13). “Going to the market is like a date for Alissa and her dog,” De Sousa says with a gentle laugh.

Walk down quiet Division Street any night of the week and you’ll notice the slender restaurant glowing from within–dinner service was recently added due to rampant customer demand.

Come dinner, candlelight flickers over the décor of pottery and succulents, and diners split vegetable crudité with a kale cloumage (a cross between cottage cheese and yogurt) and platters of Moroccan-style chickpea stew with lamb sourced from Pennsylvania and cilantro yogurt.

Get in soon to be one of the lucky 20 that the restaurant has room for at once.


Sea why we are crazy about Navy Soho’s new seafood-focused Navy is more than just a pretty face.

Black Bass Crudo

Soho’s new seafood-focused Navy is more than just a pretty face.

Sure, the restaurant is decked out in a handsome outfit of indigo curtains, antiqued mirrors and a deep-navy paint job (natch), but it is chef Camille Becerra’s inspired ideas about sustainable cooking that root the place. Becerra’s ideas gleaned from time spent studying macrobiotic cuisine and cooking at a Zen monastery weave their way quietly into this supremely stylish spot.

“As chefs, it is our responsibility to not only make great-tasting food, but to nourish people with sustainable food,”she says. With that idea in mind, this former Top Chef contestant opened her playbook of smart cooking ideas for us.

Foods That Grow Together, Go Together
Not only is Becerra inspired by the maxim of “eat what’s around you,” but she also makes an effort to pair local vegetables from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op that grow at the same climate–such as a parsnip and endive salad nestled with pistachios and blue cheese ($14)–on the plate.

Be Gentle with the Superfoods

Becerra is adamant that her food not appear “crunchy-hippy,” but that doesn’t mean she shies away from using superfoods. Right now, she’s loving goji berries pickled in a brine of vinegar, chiles de árbol, juniper berries and bay leaves. Flaxseeds make their way into a whole-grain crisp served with cured cod and crème fraîche ($14), and also into the restaurant’s mixed-grain bowls of quinoa, bulgur and farro that are done up with heaps of scallions, parsley, roasted vegetables, sumac yogurt and a poached egg ($14).

 Local, It’s Not Just for Produce

“To have something that just came out of nearby waters, the freshness is incomparable,” says Becerra. Look for just-caught local fish, such as Long Island Striped Bass with potatoes and Nigella seeds ($24) on the daily-changing, hand-written menus.


Last Call for Thanksgiving Reservations!

Thanksgiving Dinner Out in NYC 2012

Thanksgiving is upon us. For those not braving the kitchen to prepare a feast, don’t despair. Have yet to make a reservation? Fear not. There are elegant Clean Plates-approved restaurants ready to welcome diners with open arms this Thursday. Note: Most require reservations, but still have openings. Don’t delay!

Following are our recommendations for every body. Continue reading

On Our Radar: Aamanns-Copenhagen


Sanne Ytting dreamed of bringing the foods of her native Denmark to New York City, where she’s been working as a teacher and psychotherapist for more than a decade; after translating her desire into action, Aamanns-Copenhagen opened earlier this month, serving up artfully constructed smørrebrød, Denmark’s signature open-faced sandwiches.  Continue reading

City Bakery’s Creative Juices are Flowing

City Bakery juicing

The City Bakery has always led a double life: decadent bakery in the front, health-conscious prepared food bar in the back. Chef-owner Maury Rubin’s newest venture just might bridge the gap between buttery pretzel croissants and kale salads: his new juicing station behind the bakery’s back counter features made-to-order drinks with a focus on flavor. No spirulina or protein powder in these beverages: the unique combinations of ingredients, sourced from the local greenmarket, will change with the seasons, and are treated individually to bring out the best flavor. Sweet potato is cold-pressed to reduce starchiness, then pulverized with orange and cilantro to create a drink as imaginative as the bakery’s infamous hot chocolate blends. Continue reading