Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 01/20/2016
Avant Garden. Photo: Derossi Global
130 E. 7th St., 646-922-7948, East Village, Manhattan
Avant Garden is a chic vegan experience, a celebration of vegetables and grains that makes no attempt to mimic meat. Chefs line up behind the kitchen counter like actors on a stage, illumined by Edison bulbs and fairy lights entwined in tree branches. Patrons can sit facing the action and mingle with the gifted cooks or settle in by the window and witness the flow of activity on 7th Street. There's only room for 28, so it's best to make a reservation. Perhaps the most ethereal bite is Balthazar toast topped with harissa-spiked carrot, sweet apple, whipped tofu and tarragon. Chestnut farro risotto with delicata squash is another standout. Dishes are on the small side and all beautifully, vibrantly plated. The man behind the operation is Ravi DeRossi, a mostly vegan restaurateur who is also a partner at East Village drink spots like Amor y Amargo, Mayahuel and Death & Co. The wine selection here naturally focuses on natural options.