Posted on | January 4, 2008 | 23 Comments |
Carmelita is my very first all-vegetarian restaurant experience. Yeah, you read that right, I went to a restaurant that does not serve any meat! It was a friend’s birthday, not the time to be picky, you know. We were all prepared to go have a nice time, and just in case the food sucked, get some take out on the way back. But we didn’t have to, the food turned out to be quite nice.
Carmelita menu is very innovative, with dishes made from fresh seasonal ingredients. It must be great for the vegetarians to have so many options to choose from! Normally they get one dish in a restaurant, that too if they are lucky, and here they have the whole menu! The ambience here is great, the place has a very rustic charm to it. The staff is friendly and helpful, overall a really nice dining experience.
We started with an amuse bouche, complements of the chef. It had roasted chanterelle mushrooms, pine nuts and squash flavored with thyme or tarragon, its been almost two month since the visit, so I am kind of guessing the ingredients. but the dish was very tasty, and set the tone for the rest of the night.
Then we decided to share some starters. The first choice was the Roasted cauliflower fritters with garlic aioli, roasted red peppers, walnuts, lemon zest and lemon oil. I loved the cauliflower fritters, crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside, and the taste combination with the rest of the platter was brilliant.
Another starter we tried was the Savory corn panna cotta with olive oil poached chantrelles, micro greens and truffle oil. I’ve never had savory panna cotta before, so I ordered this just for the experience, and loved it! I’ve never had anything like this before, the creamy texture of the panna was very delectable, and the truffle oil added a nice touch.
For the main course, they have only five items in the menu. I went for the Potato-Gruyere gratin with Swiss chard, leek cream, fennel-radish salad and croutons. It was fantastic, I actually got a taste of everyone’s entrees, and I was happy that mine was the best.
Siv got the Moroccan chickpea crepe with roasted carrots, tomato sauce, yogurt, cilantro and fried carrot. The chickpea filling was tasty, though the crepe was a little over-crispy for my taste. Siv liked it just fine, but he was still hungry after the meal.
Now that I think about it, the dishes are somewhat pricey. The starters are about $10 and the main courses are about $18 each. The portions are really small. I think everyone was a bit hungry at the end of the meal. Also, the dessert selection was not too impressive, we all ended up getting the same ice cream with figs. The birthday girl got a candle on her dessert, always a nice touch.
But overall, I highly recommend the place. I am not saying this is going to be our regular hangout place or anything, I still love my meat and fish, but I am glad I tried something new and actually enjoyed it. This will be a perfect place to entertain vegetarian guests, since I am not very good at making vegetarian food at home.