Haute vegan cuisine is the main event at Avant Garden, a forward-thinking East Village café owned by Ravi DeRossi (Death & Co., Mayahuel, Amor y Amargo). The whitewashed brick storefront is decorated with artful tree branches and offers comfortable seating that faces a team of chefs composing gorgeous plates of vegetables and grains. The menu is divided into three categories: toast with stimulating toppings, cold dishes and half a dozen hot main courses. The plant-based preparations are well-seasoned and dispel preconceptions that meatless food is bland. Highlights include kale panzanella, carrot-harissa toast and potato cannelloni with pine nut ricotta and merguez-spiced eggplant on a bed of arugula pesto. The drink selection includes artisanal beers and natural wines.