Is the Accidental Locavore the only one who finds that “organic” restaurants all have some unfortunate traits in common? Granted, there are places (Candle 79 comes to mind) where you might never know you were eating organic, vegan, vegetarian or (so trendy) gluten-free. However, most of them seem intent on making you painfully aware that you’re eating healthy.
Let’s start with one of the Locavore’s pet peeves, room temperature water. What is wrong with adding ice to water? After all, ice is a form of water, occurring naturally more often than hot water (generally more accepted — think soup, tea, coffee).
Unfortunate trait number two: an extraordinarily casual wait staff. Where is it written that to work in a natural food restaurant you have to look and act like the last refugees from (pick one) Woodstock or Sedona? Is it because “Organic fruits and vegetables are not always the best looking,” so your staff needs to match the carrots? And if your bartender can’t even put together a drinkable Bloody Mary, hire someone who can! When the concept behind these restaurants is to champion local, organic food, why insult the farmers who took the time and energy to raise the food by having it tossed on the table by someone who looks like they might have showered and shaved at least once this year?
Third issue: not to sound like a broken record, if the food is good enough to be certified organic could you please not torture it into something it was never meant to be? Hemp empanadas? Quinoa linguini? Please…
So how did this all come about? A friend of the Locavore’s wanted us to try Gustorganics, the first certified organic restaurant in New York. After you wade through all the foolishness, (and spare me: what on earth is an “organic reservation”?), the food was fine. Grilled pizza had a nice, thin, crispy crust and tasty sauce. The pallid tomato added nothing but a reminder that it is still January. A Tuesday special of lemon chicken was delicious, mostly because it had been doused in (organic) butter. Desserts were forgettable, especially a carrot cake made with quinoa (see above) and frosted with a coconut & soy cream.
Would I go back?
I would die before I go to a vegetarian restaurant. Especially an organic one. However, there is a not-to-bad Korean one, of all things, Hangawi.