I took the liberty of going to 3 of the well known raw restaurants in NYC: Quintessence, Caravan of Dreams, Pure Food and Wine. I thought I’d post my thoughts about the places…
Quintessence: Lovely, but very very small. Come early on a busy day, or be prepared for a 45 minute wait. Service is very good, cute place despite the size. The food was delicious for the most part. Try the Indian and Moroccan platters for an authentic-feeling ethnic food experience. Make sure you try the kamut bread, the best I have ever tasted! The mock tofu “fofu” (in the Moroccan platter) was really unique and yummy. Any of their desserts are really amazing, and definitely try the yerba matte chai latter made with cashew milk.
Caravan of Dreams: Nice atmosphere with live music (noisy), fair sized place. Try the avococo soup, it was divine, and the corn chips are also very very good. My only complaint with this place was that my main meal was more of a salad. In fact, when it came, I had my mom ask me “Why did you order two salads?” So all in all, a great place to go for a fantastic big delicious green salad, and the appetizers are nice, but I was less than impressed by the main meals. Not that they didn’t taste good, but generally I expect more entree type things from raw restaurants.
Pure Food and Wine: Definitely my favourite place. Absolutely beautiful decor, very fine dining type atmosphere. The garden is especially beautiful. The food is quite expensive and the portions are pretty small, but I wouldn’t expect anything else from a gourmet restaurant. The food was just amazing. I loved the ravioli (tastes like real pasta, don’t know how they do it!). The spanakopita was absolutely incredible, so authentic tasting. The Saag Paneer was also very very good (sorry if I spelled that wrong=). The sangria is sooo good, and the tiramisu (again, spelling?) was delicious.
Overall, I’d recommend Quintessence or Pure Food and Wine readily. To introduce someone to raw food, I’d go for Pure Food and Wine, they have a really unique thing going for a raw restaurant. Its less hippie (nothing against hippies, but it tends to be a stereotype among raw foodists), and more like the kind of restaurant you wouldn’t even know was raw or vegan (even after finishing the food).