Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ellary's Greens

When a friend suggested we try the newish Ellary's Greens for dinner, I happily obliged.  I was both surprised and disappointed, however, when she told me on the way that it was neither a vegan or vegetarian restaurant, as I'd assumed otherwise.


The restaurant is literally green, but otherwise unassuming from the street.

 


However, the dining room is quite stunning.


We were having an early dinner on a Saturday, so only one other table was occupied.  Since we had our choice, I strong-armed the group into sitting at the beautiful communal table in the window.  I should note that the chairs are a little strange, but they could be worse.

 

Thankfully, the menu items are clearly marked as being vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and/or dairy-free; you definitely get the sense they are well aware of the distinctions.  The dinner menu is relatively vast, so it was nice of the waiter to explain that they recommend ordering multiple plates in order to create a personalized a la carte meal; however, the prices are a little high to go too crazy.

Two friends chose the chickpea burger: with escarole and house-made tomato jam.  One had it on a gluten free wrap:

sometimes math geniuses don't make the best photographers

The other went with the traditional English muffin presentation.


English muffin also ordered a side of steamed kale: with black currants, celery root, and walnuts.  It arrived way to wilted to have been steamed and unexpectedly included the stems, but was reported to be delicious.


Another friend ordered the curly kale salad: with toasted barley, roasted crimini mushrooms, butternut squash, and cider vinaigrette.  The request to sub broccoli for the mushrooms wasn't exactly handled smoothly, but was ultimately honored.


I ordered the green thai tofu curry: with green beans, sweet potatoes, coconut milk, and brown rice on the side.  Extra points for the large, easily removed leaves of cilantro, but there wasn't a green bean to be found; instead: zucchini.  I hate when restaurants make substitutions to menu items without alerting the diner.  And, as someone who has eaten more than my fair share as a result of restaurants who don't know what else vegans eat, I abhor being served zucchini on principle.  Luckily, the whole dish had a very pleasant taste regardless- which was good since our waiter didn't return to check on our meals until everyone was finished and I had about four mouths-full left.  I did ask him why there had been a substitution and he promised to check on it, but never mentioned it again.  It's not like I wanted a plate of green beans to belatedly send to my stomach to mingle with the curry I'd already consumed, but it was off-putting for it to have been dismissed- particularly when the waiter said, "Was it good otherwise?"  Other than the fact that it wasn't as described?  Worse, though, was when he dragged my empty plate in front of my friend from the far end of the table instead of taking two steps over to remove it directly from my place; cringe.


I eat dessert a lot already had my suspicions that I wouldn't be returning to Ellary's Greens, so a friend and I decided to share a dessert.  Incidentally, all of their desserts are vegan.  There was a case full of gluten-free cookies, brownies, and bars- none of which looked appealing to me.  Instead, we chose the chocolate strawberry shortcake from the menu: chocolate cake with macerated strawberries and coconut whipped cream.

The cake was expectedly abbreviated, to be sure, but also more than a little unassuming.  For starters, the "cake" looked awfully like two soft, albeit cakey, cookies.  The coconut whipped cream had a very pleasant texture, but was unexpectedly tasteless.  And, finally, when you're promised macerated berries, slices just simply won't do. 

to scale

I think I actually enjoyed the dessert, overall, much more than the kale salad gal I shared it with did.  Would I order it again?  No.  Actually, I most likely would not return to Ellary's for anything- just too many things slightly amiss with nothing grand enough to make up for the shortcomings.  Granted, the space is beautiful and the waitstaff pleasant enough, but there seemed to be no vested interest in providing food and/or service befitting the pricing if nothing else.  If I want to distribute silverware and menus to my fellow diners myself, I may as well enjoy a less expensive and heartier meal elsewhere.


This sign made me smile and we all agreed that the restroom smelled divine, but the details that were missed could not be made up for with a gardenia candle and a little wit. In future, I'll pass.

13 comments:

  1. I always appreciate you taking one for the team. There are so many veg-friendly restaurants, and so much food to eat... it's nice of you to separate the wheat from the chaff. You are very perceptive too - I'm not sure I would notice some of the problems you pointed out.
    The steamed kale dish does sound appealing though.
    Have you ever done a top 10 (or 5..) list of places you return to? I feel like I go to the same three or four places over and over, and even one of those is just eh.

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    1. I've always thought of doing a top 10, but it would have to be dishes/items as opposed to overall experiences, I think. Although I try to test new places, I'm usually a guilty repeater as well.

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  2. Thankfully, I never had any intention to eat there.

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    1. And so we shall not eat there together.

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  3. Like Maud said, you do notice things that others might not notice, or dismiss as unimportant. The food looks appealing in your photos, and the setting seems nice, but I know how a restaurant that just doesn't measure up to expectations can go on the "never again" list. In a place like NYC, with so many options, it's easier to forget about places that push too many buttons than it is in smaller towns. Sometimes I'm so sick of the dining options here that I can't think of a single place to go!.

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    1. I think there should be good, friendly service everywhere, but when a certain dollar threshold is passed, I find certain things inexcusable- such as dragging dirty plates across the table in front of others. It's lazy and inconsiderate! Agreed; sometimes there's no reason to give a place a second chance. Running out of places to go is probably what fuels all of your inventive cooking creations; this is why I eat canned soup so often when I'm too lazy to go out.

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  4. This place was on a research assignment I was on. I was not impressed. A meat eater who is all about farm to table was. I'm beginning to think I should only eat at vegan or ethnic restaurants. The place is pretty but the plating needs filling out and it's pricey.

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    1. I'm so happy at vegan restaurants! The other day when I was eating my Snail sammie, an unexpected collard leaf fell out of my arugula and I laughed. Nothing like an errant collard instead of a chicken chunk, which we've all experienced.

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  5. How disappointing - especially for your friend who suggested it. There's nothing worse than dragging people along to a new restaurant and having it be a real letdown...OK, there probably ARE worse things, but it's still pretty bad.

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    1. You're right! She's much more forgiving than I, but she likely won't return either.

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    2. haha! this is true :) and I don't feel too bad, wouldn't have known without giving it a try! i have no desire to go back, though I must say, I did love my kale salad!

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  6. Gutted - it really does look like a beautiful place. Particularly disappointing about the desserts - if you're going to show off purely vegan sweets (good) why make them so bad (bad!)?

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    1. Especially when there are so many GREAT vegan sweets (and eats, to be sure)! Yet, believe it or not, I just went to an upscale, omni restaurant the other day and was served- you guessed it, roasted veggies. Sigh.

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