If I had a dollar for every time my mother told me to eat my vegetables before I could have dessert, I would be a wealthy man. If I had simply eaten the vegetables and forgone the dessert altogether, well, I can only imagine… But the truth of the matter is that vegetables aren’t just good for you. They can be just plain good. Even fantastic. So this month I thought I would share some of my favorite vegetarian dishes I have been enjoying recently. Two of them may have eggs on them, but a few them are even vegan. My hope is that even those who do not identify as a vegetarian or vegan personally might find one or two things to consider ordering.
Nothing is ever what it seems at M. Wells, in a most deliciously playful way. Golden beets are minced and tossed with a hint of horseradish and mustard seeds, then topped with a poached egg. It is a tartare that won’t raise your cholesterol or drain your pocketbook either.
22-25 Jackson Ave., Long Island City
Seaweed Salad with Sesame Dressing at Oyster Café of New York
Many Japanese restaurants boast a seaweed salad, but most renditions are swimming in sugar. At this new Oyster parlor, the ocean greens are also blue and red, tossed in a light sesame dressing that allows the ocean and earth to sing together.
25-07 Broadway, Astoria
There is nothing remotely fowl about this mock chicken. The chef at Soulkofa has mastered a vegan fried version of the most tender, juicy chicken around that makes everything else taste like it is for the birds.
Who knows how the chef gets things so right at this Astoria hotspot every single time. This meatloaf tastes just like the name, and comes with a smear of sundried tomato ketchup, a blanket of melted cheddar, and a crispy crown of battered onion rings.
40-09 30th Ave., Astoria
Oeuf Gamin at Francis Café
This dish is like a golden benedict plucked directly from the spring garden. A warm bed of ratatouille is flawlessly tender and tangy, topped with a triangle of goat cheese hash that could be eaten by the pieful. When that bright yellow yolk bursts over all of it, it gets pretty serious.
35-01 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria
His father ran a flour mill, so Giuseppe Viterale knows how to make a killer homemade pasta with unique flours, like this buckwheat tagliatelle topped with tender spuds and braised cabbage, all brought together with rich fontina cheese.
29-17 23rd Ave., Astoria