What do you do when you become vegan and crave French food? I am not talking about me but of Christophe Caron, the owner of Delice & Sarrasin, a French vegan restaurant in the west Village. French and vegan is a bizarre association, French cuisine being known for using lots of butter and cream, as well as meat, poultry or fish. So, if you want to eat a boeuf bourguignon or a cassoulet, you might be out of luck. Well, not anymore with Delice & Sarrasin: they offer a menu that can satisfy a carnivore like me. See for yourself what we tried in the two times we went there...within three weeks.
For appetizer, I tried their escargots beurre Maître d’Hotel (gluten free and soy free). These are vegan snails made with oyster mushrooms in garlic butter that is coconut based. The presentation was very similar to the classic dish and the color of the mushrooms was very close too. Taste wise you cannot be mistaken between a snail and a mushroom, but let’s be honest, the best part of escargots is the sauce. And it was good: I just wished there was more so I could dip some bread.
For entrées, all 100% vegan, they have a large choice between fake meat, fish and poultry or, crepes made with buckwheat flour (Sarrasin in French). We tried:
The tournedos Rossini, made with the "Impossible Food" steak, cooked in light butter, on a crouton topped with sliced foie gras (tahini based) and fresh black truffle. I mentioned in the past the Impossible burger at Saxon+Parole that could be in a way mistaken for meat and is completely plant based. There, they elevated it with some mock foie gras, giving to the dish some decadence not typically associated with vegan cuisine. I thought at first that the “steak” was their version of a piece of meat, but it was ground mock meat like in the burger. They cooked it well, so it was tasty and not dry at all. The foie gras could not be mistaken for the real one as it had a softer texture, less fatty and tasty, but still: it was good and went well with the steak.
Then we tried the steak frites infusées à la truffe blanche, a vegan beef steak made with three types of mushrooms, served with french fries infused in white truffle. Contrary to the Impossible Steak, the texture and flavors are not those of meat and I found it quite tasty. This is probably a better option if you are vegetarian and do not like the taste of meat. The fries were steak fries that I am usually not a big fan of. But these were superb: cooked all the way through and crispy.
Another classic is the salade niçoise that was of course without anchovies or tuna.
And the boeuf bourguignon, a stew made with beef (that was a pea protein) marinated in red wine and "four spices", pearl onion, carrots, and fingerling potatoes. The presentation was rustic and appetizing: you would never guess that it was a vegetarian dish just looking into it. The mock meat, covered in the thick sauce, looked like beef and the texture was quite close. Taste wise, it did not taste like beef (or peas), and it was good and comforting.
Last was dessert. They serve savory and sweet crepes, made with buckwheat flour, so we had to try their sweet crepes. We chose La Bordelaise, stuffed with roasted apple, salted caramel and served with some vanilla ice cream made with coconut milk. The crepe was really good and at the exception of the taste of the salted caramel, it is a regular crepe. I mentioned the salted caramel because it did not have, of course, butter in it, so you do not get at all the same taste. And that ice cream! It was deliciously creamy.
The second dessert we tried was the almond milk chocolate cake that definitely measured up against plenty of restaurants where I had non-vegan chocolate cakes. Moist, very chocolatey, we were fighting to get the icing! It is a must have.
If you follow the blog, I am sure you are thinking that you have never seen me that excited after going to a vegetarian restaurant unless it is an Asian cuisine. When Table Verte closed, I thought a void was left, but after discovering Delice & Sarrasin, I realize it is not the case. I definitely recommend this place whether you are vegetarian or not.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Delice & Sarrasin - 20 Christopher Street, New York, NY 10014