On Wednesday night I got to check off another restaurant from my bucket list. This time, we went the healthy route and decided on V-Note Organic Wine Bar and Vegan Bistro (1522 1st Avenue Between 79th and 80th Streets). Exciting news? There’s was a Groupon for V-Note and we were able to snag $30 off our bill for $15! Hooray!
We walked in and were seated near the door- which meant a nice view of the street out the windows (and of a man running in a thong) and being away from the more cramped main dining area- but it also meant I was a little chilly.
V-Note was cute- the booths for groups were especially cozy looking. We contemplated the appetizers but nothing was jumping out at me, mainly because most of the items were fried or in phyllo dough…and I was at a vegan restaurant and wanted to eat healthy, damnit! The salads on the other hand were calling my name. After some debate, we accepted the fact that decision making is not our specialty and that we were going to order 2 small salads and pass on the apps.
I went with the Curry “Unchicken” Salad which came with grilled soy chicken (I couldn’t believe how chicken-y it really was!), romaine lettuce, celery, apple (I love fruit in my salads), roasted potatoes, grilled onions (they were SO SWEET and delicious!) and toasted macadamia nuts (I definitely think these are one of my all-time favorite nuts and they’re also a huge reason I ordered this salad, if we’re being honest!). It was all tossed in a curry veganaise.
(Curry "Unchicken" Salad)
The salad was good, and I definitely enjoyed it for the reasons I mentioned before- soy chicken was impressive, macadamia nuts didn’t disappoint, apples and onions added the perfect hint of sweetness. That being said- the romaine did nothing for this salad and I could have done without the potatoes. I think raisins or cranberries could have added to it and I thought the curry veganaise was tasty but nothing to write home about. Maybe I was a little disappointed because I was expecting it to look more chicken salad-y- with the ingredients more chopped/mixed together. Either way- good, don’t get me wrong, just not life-changing.
The other salad we ordered, however, has been added to the "Life-Changing Salads" list.
(Salads can change your life, I swear!)
Everyone do yourself a favor and go order the Wilted Spinach Salad from V-Note. Served with spinach, shiitake mushrooms, roasted corn, tempeh, cashews, soy bacon crumble and tossed in a warm balsamic vinaigrette, this salad blew my mind with its deliciousness. I really can’t pinpoint what made it so great, but the flavors all worked together to make my taste buds really happy. The savory balsamic and shiitake with the sweet corn and salty soy bacon- I wish I could eat it every day! Plus, I had mention that I was cold sitting near the door, and this was a warm salad which made it even more enjoyable.
We ate every last bite.
(Bye bye salads!)
Before I move on to our entrees let me note that they don’t serve Diet Coke at a vegan bistro and organic wine bar, go figure. But they do serve China Cola? Clearly I’m not up on my organic and vegan product lingo so I stuck with good old H2O. At this point in the meal we also switched tables to be away from the door because I’m a baby. But it meant a booth and a pillow and warmth so it was hard for me to feel bad about being a pain in the waiter’s ass. (And for once I didn’t make special requests on anything I ordered! Progress?)
OK, moving on to the main event. Shockingly, I struggled when it came time to choose my meal (more sarcastic words have never been typed). For a long n time it looked like I was going with the Raw Zucchini Papparadelle (zucchini pasta, almond butter sauce, diced avocado, olives, cherry tomatoes, marinated onion, oyster mushrooms and red pepper tossed in a cashew cream) but at the last minute I changed it up and ordered the Poblano En Nogada- and I’m so glad I did!
When it came to the table, I’m pretty sure I squealed…it was the meal they used in their Groupon picture! And it was beautiful.
Yes, I just called a stuffed pepper beautiful. If there’s one thing I love more than delicious food, it’s delicious food that has wonderful presentation! And I also LOVE stuffed peppers. My dad’s are pretty epic, so this one had a lot to live up to!
(Fun fact: a picture of my dad’s stuffed pepper is still one of my most liked Instagram posts! Another fun fact: I’ve made quinoa black bean stuffed peppers which were pretty great if I do say so myself).
Anyway, back to the V-Note Poblano En Nogada. The poblano pepper was sweet and subtly spicy (perfect, since I can’t handle a ton of spice). It was stuffed with a seitan, peach, raisin and apple picadillo that I’m drooling thinking about right now. I really can’t describe it except that it was a delicious blend of flavors. It was a little on the watery side, but that’s probably my only slight complaint!
The pepper was topped with an almond-walnut sauce that was so creamy I cannot believe it contained no dairy products! And the best part? The pomegranate seeds on top that added the PERFECT textural diversity to the dish.
On the side was a perfectly shaped patty of cilantro-lime rice (again, the attention to presentation was obvious) topped with beet marinated shiitake mushrooms. You could really taste both the cilantro AND lime in the rice. I devoured this meal.
(Okay, mine didn't look AS pretty as the Groupon pepper, but still, beautiful presentation!)
I can’t really comment on the other entrée because I was so enamored with my pepper that I only tried one bite. I remember it being tasty and lemon-y. It was the Pistachio and Pepper Dusted Tofu- served over roasted root vegetable filled crepe, lemon truffle emulsion and topped with frisee salad in a red beet vinaigrette. I asked my friend if he had anything I should include in my review about the dish and he said: “It was phenomenal, and I’m a carnivore by trade and would put it up there with the best meals I’ve had.”
(Pistachio and Pepper Crusted Tofu)
This was a great 1st vegan dining experience and it definitely won’t be the last, although I do feel like I should point out that V-Note, and restaurants like it, aren’t cheap! Had we not gotten the Groupon, V-Note would have set us back about $75. But you pay for quality, taste and presentation- all things V-Note did very well!