Bwog gastronomic correspondent Cyrena Lee offers Columbia vegans a healthy, environmentally-conscious dining option outside Morningside Heights. 

Morningside Heights doesn’t have much of a reputation amongst epicures, but for vegans and even vegetarians, there is a disheartening lack of restaurants that abstain from using any meat in their kitchens.  Fortunately, New York City is a haven for veggie eaters, and delightful restaurants who cater to them, ranging from healthy organic fare, macrobiotic Japanese,  to mock meats, laden with all the greasy fried goodness of regular American fare—sans the actual flesh.

I ventured to Angelica’s Kitchen, an old-time favorite of mine, located on the Lower East Side. (A sign between 1st and 2nd Ave. on 12th street indicates Angelica’s, in a neon-lit, loopy script.)  In addition to being completely organic vegan, Angelica’s Kitchen also has an environmentally conscious ethos: A minimum of 95% of all food used to prepare the menu has been grown ecologically.  Credit cards are also not accepted as a form of payment, as greenbacks are more natural than cold plastic. That said, all of these trendy green-factors are really beside the point if the food doesn’t hold up, but luckily this is not the case.

For raw foodists, or for those who aren’t exceptionally hungry, the Thai Me Up raw entree consists of strands of daikon radish, butternut squash and carrot on a bed of garlic-lemon marinated kale, dressed with Thai tahini sauce. However, if one is not accustomed to unadulterated vegetables and greens, the decadent tahini sauce only does so much for this dish.  This shouldn’t necessarily be anyone’s first vegan meal, but is better suited for an experienced vegan health fanatic.

A friend of mine ordered the Hot Open Face Tempeh Sandwich, which consists of  slices of sourdough baguette with marinated and baked tempeh (a protein source made from soybeans) and mushroom gravy. In the middle of the sandwich, there’s a scoop of surprisingly creamy mashed potato, all resting on a bed of spinach glory.

And no visit to Angelica’s would be complete without ordering Southern-style fluffy cornbread. (For those who suffer from celiac disease, there is a gluten-free version available as well.)  Either way, the deliciousness of the cornbread is not compromised due to a lack of eggs or dairy.

Finally, there’s dessert. We sampled a daily special: upside-down pineapple cake served with lemon creme.  It was devoured within a matter of seconds.

Angelica’s Kitchen has daily special entrees as well as desserts, and though the former tend to be a bit pricier than the standard everyday fare, usually they’re worth the few extra dollars.  The cozy seating is a bit cramped when busy, but it’s a great place to people-watch and eavesdrop, especially when the vegan lexicon proves a bit confusing to the virgin ears of the omnivore.