I had a lunch meeting today with Allison and Annie at the Peacefood Cafe on Amsterdam and 83rd Street in NYC. It is a vegan cafe that has a great selection of baked goods, drinks, salads, soups, raw foods and cooked entrees. Some of these are gluten-free, all are made without any meats, dairy or eggs.
The restaurant is deceivingly long with a front room and a back room, a counter and a sitting area for people who order take out, of which there were many. They have a sign up that says that due to the number of people who come for lunch that laptops are not allowed b/w the hours of 12:00 – 3:00. Apparently people come and hang out for long periods of time with their laptops, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a bright and open and welcoming space.
When you walk in there is a nice round table in the corner by the window which we grabbed. It can comfortably sit 4 people and being by the window had great sun. Unfortunately it go so hot between the sun and the heat in the restaurant that eventually we had to move to the back of the restaurant.
Overall my experience was great with one little glitch that I will get to later. We started with fried chickpea “fries” which looked more like little rectangle potato cakes than fries. They are fried in canola oil so I was able to eat them. They have a little tang and a little punch to them. Very yummy.
Then we moved on to butternut squash soup, which is one of my favorites. It also had sweet potato and a few other veggies in it, and thankfully no dairy or gluten in it as most soups do, so I could eat it. We all agreed it was delicious. We also got fruit smoothies (again no dairy) made with green vegies and fruit. After the hot soup in the hot sun and the hot radiator we were melting and moved to the back of the restaurant.
Once we cooled down we realized we were too full to eat a meal, so we ordered desserts. That’s when the fun started for me. The waitress we had at the front of the restaurant was very attentive and very tuned in to food allergies. She checked all of the ingredients for everything I ordered and was able to tell me what was in all of the dishes, what I could and could not eat. Really extraordinary.
The waitress in the back of the restaurant was not so tuned in nor did she seem to understand the seriousness of food allergies. To her credit, each time I asked her to tell me what was in a dish she did go back to check, which was great, but she would come back and tell me only that ‘it was safe for me to eat’. Although I explained that and why I needed to know what all of the ingredients were, each time she would come back with the same answer, ‘it’s safe for you to eat’. She assured me that there was no gluten, soy, nuts or peanuts in the gluten-free pumpkin spice cake and that is what I ordered.
It arrived looking like a thick, moist slice of a pumpkin tea bread with a frosting on it. When I asked her what was in the frosting she seemed annoyed, said she did not know and she would check after she took care of other tables. Ok, so now I was getting frustrated. I decided to start eating the cake and avoid the frosting until she returned. After a couple of bites the owner came by and told me he wasn’t sure what was in the cake, but he was pretty sure there were walnuts. Ok, then . . . so I had to literally spit out the cake in my mouth and decide what to do . . . b/c if there were walnuts in it I was in trouble. He said he would check and I told him that I had specifically asked for, and not received, the ingredients. A few minutes later he came back with the recipe and showed it to me. Phew . . . no walnuts thank goodness! But he did not check on the frosting and had to go back yet again. It turns out that it was fine and I could finish the piece of cake, which, by the way, was delicious.
So overall it was a good experience. The food and drinks are really good. The waitress in the front really “got it” and the owner (Jeff) was helpful although he did not know the ingredients. The waitress in the back did not get it. She was ultimately right about the food, but she was annoyed at having to deal with my questions, and frankly I don’t have the patience or the comfort to deal with this type of server.
Would I go back? Yes, absolutely, and next time I will sit in the front section but not by the window.