Cafe Clover NYC
Last week, a close friend and I enjoyed a lovely meal at Café Clover over a catch up session. Having just flown in to New York from Dubai the morning before, the thought of having a light and healthy meal sounded just perfect. Café Clover has a healthy focus to American cuisine, and they pride themselves on using locally sourced and organic ingredients wherever possible. While they have a good number of gluten free and vegetarian options on the menu, they do have plenty of meat and fish as well.
As I waited at the bar for my friend to arrive, I took in the simplistic, yet elegant décor of the bright and airy restaurant. She arrived a few minutes later and we were immediately escorted to our table. Despite the fact that some consider this to be a cursed location (neither 10 Downing Street nor La Villette survived very long), Café Clover was buzzing when we were there on Sunday night, a good 2 months since it’s opening.
One of my pet peeves when it comes to dining out, which I observe quite often in Dubai restaurants but wouldn’t expect in New York, is getting still and sparking water mixed up in your glass because the wait staff forget which one you are having. This did happen a couple of times during our meal, so a little more attention to detail is needed. Nonetheless, our waiter was very knowledgeable about the menu, and the food was spaced out nicely, without having too much on the table at a time (my other pet peeve).
I absolutely loved the gluten free mixed seed crackers served with butternut squash hummus, a yummy alternative to a bread basket, which I found myself nibbling on throughout the meal. The celery root and rutabaga cumin salad with pistachio and a delicious citronette dressing arrived shortly thereafter. The celery root was served in the form of long, thin noodles, so we really struggled to get them onto our plate without making a mess or scooping out a forkful and raising it about 3 feet in the air! But once we were done with this close to impossible task, they were crispy and vibrant.
While the ivory lentil risotto with Parmesan and black truffle was nearing undercooked, the dish definitely had potential due to its delicious flavors. The crunchy cauliflower “steak” romesco served with a tangy vegetable chutney made up for that, and the roasted brussel sprouts tasted fresh and had a nice kick to them when you happened to get a small slice of Jalapeno or black garlic in your mouth. The quinoa tagliattelle was a little on the dry side, though again, it had potential as the sauce itself was good, I just wish there had been a little more of it.
When I saw the almond milk panna cotta with rose petal syrup on the dessert menu, I did a little dance in my head for all my vegan readers, but on inquiry I was told it had just a little bit of heavy cream. We ordered it anyway, and while we were waiting for it to arrive, a wooden box with 4 compartments, each with a different type of raw dark chocolate was placed on our table – we nibbled our way through the cashew, red chilli, pistachio and coffee flavored chocolate with enthusiasm.
Much to my delight (but to my friend’s disappointment), the panna cotta tasted just like marzipan, which is pretty much my idea of heaven, so I devoured the entire thing pretty quickly.
In general, I thought the food could use a few minor improvements here and there, which, if implemented, would definitely put Café Clover on my list of places in New York for a healthy and wholesome veggie friendly meal.
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: ✔
Pros: Airy, buzzing restaurant with wholesome, healthy food.
Cons: More attention to detail needed.
Price: $$ (50 - 200 AED)
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