Restaurant Review: Quintessence

I’m so far behind in restaurant reviews that it’s almost not fair for me to do write ups since I ate it all so long ago. But I have a pretty good memory- and I also have plenty of pictures to remind my taste buds about my meals.  A few weekends ago, I used an awesome Groupon to go to Quintessence in the East Village.

Quintessence specializes in raw food- and while I’ve eaten my fair share of vegan and vegetarian meals- raw was something new to me! In addition, Quintessence is organic, vegan and gluten free!

I sat down at the little bar stools along the window with a trendy glass bottle of tap water and a beautiful sunflower, complete with buzzing bee. The waitress handed me my menu and to my surprise, it was a tablet! You could go through the menu reading descriptions and looking atpictures! Each menu item also listed all of the ingredients. It was a little slow to load, so I eventually asked for a print menu as well, but it was pretty cool and I loved being able to see the pictures, especially since eating raw was new and I wasn’t completely sure what to expect.

(So cute)

For my appetizer I decided to order the Chipotle Pate roll, described on their menu as, “amazing sweet, smoky, hot citrus dip takes this wrap south of the border for a deep flavor explosion. Cooled down with cucumber, bell pepper, avocado, and romaine lettuce, all wrapped in raw nori for a perfect balance of heat, intense flavor, and cooling juiciness.”

(Menu picture of the Chipotle Pate roll)

This was a little disappointing to me- it was pretty much just seaweed stuffed with the dip- which was very flavorful but also very spicy. My mouth was burning, nose was running, and all I was tasting was “ouch that’s hot” in my mouth. I hoped my entrée would be better.

(Mine! Accurate menu picture is appreciated!)

After some back and forth the winner wassssss: Portobello Steak Burger with Chipotle Cheese Sauce. I guess I didn’t put two and two together that the chipotle pate and the chipotle cheese sauce were the same thing- oops! Luckily, this sandwich was heaps better than the nori roll- the chipotle sauce didn’t overwhelm the other flavors. The Portobello was marinated in a delicious sauce and was definitely juicy- the onions were probably my favorite part.

(Menu picture)

The choice of “sprouted kamut bread,” “coconut squash bread,” or “grain-free veggie bread” was a tough one for me as I hadn’t tried any of those options before. I asked my waitress, and she steered me towards the sprouted kamut bread. It was…interesting. Definitely not the consistency of regular bread- it was like a very thick chewy sponge, but it was kind of cool, and tasted fine!


The good thing about Quintessence is not everything they serve is raw. My Groupon was for a good amount of money, so I decided to get two more dishes to bring home for dinner the next two nights. Both of these weren’t raw dishes, and I ended up liking them a lot more.

The first was the Bibimbap! The menu describes it as, “Inspired by a popular rice dish in Korean cuisine, this version has all the flavors expected from Bibimbap, and is completely vegan. A large bowl is filled with shitake mushrooms, spinach, mung bean sprouts, zucchini, dried fofu cubes, and carrots served on a bed of slow-cooked sprouted quinoa seasoned with our spicy homemade Korean red chili pepper sauce (aka Gochujang).

(Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of mine for comparison!) 

This tasted fresh, healthy and delicious.  Nothing mind blowing, but a solid meal of veggies and grain that I added my own avocado to. The best part was by far the Gochujang sauce, which I used every single ounce of. So full of flavor that I didn’t even mind the heat.

According to the website, this sauce is made of Birch Xylitol, Korean Chili, Miso, Salt, Vinegar, Sesame Oil, Garlic, and Onion
. First, I need to figure out what Birch Xylitol is and then, I need to make me some of this sauce.

The second dish I brought home was one of the “small plates,” the Miso Veggie Stew! This was “A scrumptious vegetable stew... kabocha squash, burdock root, daikon radish, yellow squash, kale, carrots, and red bell pepper, seasoned with brown rice miso."

(Menu photo)

And indeed it was scrumptious! As you can see in the pictures, it wasn’t really a stew- not much liquid or broth to speak of! This was hearty and filling with the squash, roots, kale and brown rice! And only $5!

(Not the prettiest picture of my meal...)

The other dishes I got were much more expensive- the Bibimbap was $14, the Portobello Burger was $15 and the nori roll was $7- this Miso Veggie Stew was one of my favorites, $5, and plenty filling. For $15, I felt that the Portobello Burger should have come with some sort of side dish!

I’m not sure I’m sold on raw eating- the nori rolls were disappointing and the kamut bread was a little strange…but dishes of healthy grains with lots of veggies and delicious, all natural sauces like the Gochujang sauce- that I can get behind!

Afternoons in the East Village trying new foods are always enjoyable :)