Among the many things I like about Ryan, I love that 1) he’s a fellow vegetarian, 2) he loves a good feast, and 3) he booked somewhere for our one-year date that lived up to 1) and 2) perfectly.

The chosen place – Candle 79 on the Upper East Side – did not disappoint.


Honestly, wherever you are considering eating again, forget it. And if you’re one of these terrible people who thinks it’s not a ‘proper meal’ unless there’s meat involved, then think again. This place is so delicious and interesting – while also being comforting and filling – that you won’t believe it’s vegetarian, let alone completely vegan.

My only bugbear was that, despite having a reservation, we had to hover in the entrance for 20+ minutes to be seated. When we finally settled into our booth, I was more than ready to tackle a bottle of red and the menu.

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<< complimentary starting snacks

The menu was so varied, I didn’t know where to begin. Eventually, we decided to steer away from Mexican choices (which we eat all the time) and opted for steamed dumplings and poppers to begin. The dumplings were filled with seitan mince and came in a rich, bok choi broth, while the popper was fried and crispy with creamy mashed potato and scallion inside. What’s that about vegan’s being all health and no fun?

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Next – the mains. Mine was a Moroccan spice chickpea cake with kale, broccoli, onions and jalapeños with a red pepper-coconut curry sauce, fresh apricot chutney and toasted almond. Sounds good eh? It was – fruity and nutty and creamy, while those greens made me feel like I was being semi good.

Ryan went for the restaurant’s signature dish, Seitan Piccato with creamed spinach, a grilled potato cake and oyster mushrooms in a lemon caper sauce. I usually wouldn’t opt for such a chunky meat substitute, but I’m always very happy to nick Ryan’s when he does.

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Then the finale – cannoli with a chocolate chip-vanilla cream filling, topped with coconut ice cream and drizzled with warm chocolate. Can you believe this is vegan?!

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Candle 79 was glorious – delicious wine and food that didn’t feel too heavy, and the company was pretty decent too. I’m so glad we chose to go there for our special date night, and I’m so glad that Ryan has put up with me for so long.

It looks like I’ll have to amend my Favorite Vegetarian Spots, don’t you think?