This is such a fun spunky culinary jewel in an otherwise prewar-esque East Village. Dirt Candy is true to its name to the very core with its decor and food. It doesn’t take much to see the metaphor in how this tiny restaurant transforms earthly harvests into delightful treats on your plate.
The interior design from bottom to top starts with a wood-textured lining that levels off at the height of your table top, and up into a glowing, translucent, candy-like plastic. The eatery seats no more than a dozen parties, and you can appreciate this once you realize the attentiveness of its staff and the care put into each and every serving.
Think of it as the deconstruction of WD-50 meets local freshness of Mas Farmhouse. And you’ll walk away not even realizing the hearty meal you just devoured was fully vegetarian.
Glor and I started with the jalapeno hush puppies – each fritter was lightly fried with tiny bits of fresh jalapeno. What we couldn’t get enough of was the maple butter – so boldly dichotomous – one moment sweet and the next salty, you’ll what to spread this over everything on the table.
Then came two starters – the Mushroom tasting and Carrot Buns. The first came with portobello served two ways – first as a mousse, a creamy solid cube of finely pureed and filtered mushroom – second, a pile of thinly shaved and lightly seasoned portobello. On the side was a ball of chunky pear and fennel compote – all to be spread on the slices of crispy truffled tostinis.
The carrot buns had a bit of an Asian flair to it. The traditional steamed buns were stuffed with a unique carrot mash, next to a side of refreshingly marinated shreds of white carrot.
Then the main event – the Corn! A generous mound of stone ground grits blended in corn cream, pickled shittake, and huitlacoche. The texture was amazingly gooey with bits of corn kernel. But the jewel to this masterpiece was the tempura poached egg that rested on the bed of grits. Crispy breading on the outside but soft fluffy egg white fully concealed underneath. The overall plate was a perfect mash-up of taste and textures.
Every component of Dirt Candy is extremely thoughtful. It’s definitely worth (repeat) visits if you’re one to appreciate a quality eating experience that’s not so often found these days in the hurried mainstream restaurant biz. The food here will really transport you away from the bustling world and command just as much time and attention from you that was placed into each element.