Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Caravan of Dreams 03-09-2010

Location: 405 E. 6th St.
Time: 6pm
People: JR, JV and myself

Feelings: Some old friends met up at Caravan of Dreams, an organic vegan restaurant in East Village, ironically located around the corner from McDonald's. The space was cozy and dimly lit, but there was just something "off" and strangely suburban about this place:

1) An obscure piano player started playing some tunes, stopped after a few songs, and came back later playing the same songs.

2) The atmosphere somehow reminded us of a dinner show restaurant, particularly one of those murder mystery dinner. A murder mystery might go better with steak dinner or meaty assortments.

Depending on your taste, this can be taken as either a positive or negative. JV disliked the blaring ragtime music from the piano located only two feet away from the table. "Live music at dinner is generally a good thing, but only if it is kept at a volume that allows for conversation (and isn't playing ragtime)," she said.

Organic, vegan, vegetarian restaurants are notorious for their slow and inattentive service, so I didn't particular expect anything from them as far as the service goes. But the waitstaff here was friendly and brought us food rather quickly. I was especially thrilled with the free filtered bottle of water, but they understandably did not bring the refill until we requested. The menu was a little difficult to read and the illustrations needed some serious updating. It looked like the one from horrible touristy Italian restaurants in Midtown.

JR and I started off with the side salad, which was over-drenched with salt and oil. It is unfortunate since the ingredients, especially carrots, were very fresh, and I wanted to really taste the earthy veggies.

My "Ravioli of the Day" ($17, sweet potato ravioli with almond pesto-Alfredo sauce, sauteed greens, sliced avocado) had interesting and bold combination of flavors. The sweetness of the ravioli and the salty vegan Alfredo went very well together. The sauce was a bit too salty, but if this was under-salted, the flavor of nuttiness may have overpowered the entire dish. The pasta and greens were perfectly al dente, and overall I enjoyed this dish. However, the slices of avocado on the side seemed a bit out of place. The alfredo sauce is creamy enough, so we don't need any more creaminess from the avocado on the side.

JR ordered Shiitake Stir Fry ($17, kombu noodles, veggies, sesame, tamari, and balsamic vinegar) with less oil, but it was still incredibly oily and also salty. I am not sure if they didn't take her request, or the dish was supposed to be oilier.

JV perhaps had the best dish of all called, "The Ecuador." ($16, angel hair squash pasta, guacamole, flax seed chips, daikon, jicama, pico de gallo, mango, greens, lemon-basil dressing) Unlike the other dishes JR and I had, this was not overly salty, and it had a lot of textures. She especially enjoyed the guacamole dressing but wished it had more flax seed chips for crunch.

I felt it was a bit overpriced, but $15-$20 a plate seems to be the standard for organic restaurants in the city. Their portion was large, and I enjoyed the unique entrees that I would never see at other vegan restaurants. I still prefer Gobo, Souen, and Counter, for their clean flavor and plating, but Caravan of Dreams is a nice addition to my vegan restaurant list.


Gar said...

Thanks for the warning. I thought about visiting, but I just can't stand oversalted dishes. I still don't understand why the chef would salt a salad? Isn't the dressing enough? Do you usually order the dressing on the side though? Glad you had a nice meeting with your friends. I love Souen as well.

Yosh. O said...

I usually don't make special requests at restaurants (like ordering dressing on the side) since I really want to see what chefs do.
But most of the time, it's a disappointment.

Jose said...

Ava and I used to go here all the time when we lived in the village but the food and service have really declined the last couple of times we have gone there and it's really no longer worth the prices that they charge. Their guacamole and salsa and unchicken nachos are still really good. Ava always gets the ravioli of the day and usually just mixes the avocado in with the alfredo. It's on the UES but Candle 79 is in the same price range and does better more innovative vegan food without the loud music.

Boss Lady said...

I was just going to write the same thing Joe did! UGH!

Yosh. O said...

Oh that joe!