Cadence Buffalo Mushroom Sandwich.
Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland
These are tough times for bulky, beefy non-vegans like me. Phrases like “herbal” have been on the lips of breathless restaurateurs for years, of course. Lately, however, and especially in the weird new era of COVID, advancements in this ever-expanding genre – a haven, in the old beef tradition, for lactose-intolerant and lactose-intolerant townspeople and various other madmen – were downright alarming. New techniques (for false Milk, false cheeses, false meat of all kinds) are developed with the kind of greedy ingenuity usually reserved for rocket programs. Talented young cooks are rushing into space, Old Masters find it hard to keep up, and as my colleagues at Underground Gourmet have reported, top-notch vegan restaurants are starting to pop up in the city like the top burgers. range did not. a long time ago.
Among the many herbal hotspots that I always hear about is Cadence, a ‘soul and southern food’ themed establishment that opened some time ago among the crowded storefronts along 7th Street in the East Village. He is one of the latest members of Overthrow Hospitality, a growing “vegan hospitality group” (eight downtown locations and more) led by a culinary entrepreneur named Ravi DeRossi, who is a vegan convert and an animal rights activist. The chef in the kitchen is Shenarri Freeman, a classically trained cook from Richmond, Va., Whose specialties include vegan interpretations of classics like cornbread, smoked oatmeal, and large portions of potato salad that look like something you would encounter at a hearty church picnic in the southern countryside.
Like those of other prominent New York restaurateurs in their early days (including Danny Meyer and David Chang), DeRossi’s little restaurant nest occupy their own special terroir – in this case a several-block section of the East Village – and they tend to exude the same practicality, casually decorated and homemade, as if you were heading to a semi-private club restaurant or neighborhood bar. There are no tables in Cadence’s cramped, railroad dining space – just a long counter, lined with 12 comfy bar stools covered in crushed orange velvet, where you feed your appetizer glasses with blueberry lemonade and with lavender or hard apple cider. There is a lean-to outside in the grand tradition of the COVID era, and in good weather a few tables are set up here and there on the sidewalk, each topped with what I thought were the chef’s own plates and a single brightly colored plastic flower.
At Cadence, every seat inside is at the bar.
Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland
The first thing our group of skeptical non-vegans tasted was the potato salad, which turns out to be a Freeman family recipe and is served in a large, wheel-shaped serving in the center of the plate. . The chef uses red potatoes boiled with the skin on (cooked with a pinch of salt, according to family tradition, and mixed with the usual chopped celery, red onions, etc., and an updated hint of dill and Dijon. ), and despite the presence of an egg-free mayonnaise called Vegenaise, I had to suppress the urge, as I devoured one creamy and tangy spoonful after another, to call hard for a cheeseburger or a side of chicken fried. There was also a great neighborhood salad on the table, although the dish we couldn’t stop talking about was a bowl of very tasty smoked oatmeal, which the chef topped with corn tomato salsa, chunks of mushrooms. and a bunch of curly shallots.
“I don’t remember vegan cooking like this when I was in cooking school,” a chef friend said as we wondered about those shallots, along with a pan of cornbread in it. The maple that our bubbly and talkative waiter informed me later was doused with a substance called “bee-free honey” made from apples (“They hurt those bees!”). Freeman’s fried lasagna was a big hit, and rightly so, although it disappeared from the table so quickly that we had to ask for a second order to review the bolognese which is made with a combination of Beef from Beyond Meat. and Italian sausage and a good dose of cabernet. Ditto (on another visit) the weird version of a fried chicken sandwich, which the kitchen prepares with pieces of crispy oyster mushrooms wrapped in a spicy Buffalo sauce, all pressed with avocado slices and a mysteriously tasty false– buttermilk dressing between a warm, crispy pretzel bun.
If there is one complaint about Cadence, it’s that the menu is too small, although that’s probably to be expected given that we’re dealing with vegan interpretations of a cuisine famous for its centuries-old protein recipes. roasted, stewed and fried animals. . I don’t think I will order the tasty, too thick and borderline “black-eyed garlic and pea pancake”, but a crab doppelgänger called “palm cake” (made with hearts of palm and chickpeas) is a thing of beauty, as are the various pies and cobblers we sampled for dessert. The berry-rich homemade cobbler is another bountiful Sunday church picnic special (yes, Freeman’s aunt was an experienced church picnic cook), although the dish I still think about for weeks later either the apple pie, which is served in a thick shortening crust and tastes of nutmeg and cinnamon and a weird, almost magical hint of maple sugar.