Cleanse Your Soul (Among Other Things) at Zen Palate

My dear friend Stella, who catsat for me over Christmas break, left me a windy message the other day that went something like this: “Adam (wind wind wind) saw a cool restaurant (wind wind wind) Zen Palate (wind wind wind) let’s eat there sometime.”

After deciphering this message, I called Stella back and made plans to eat with her tonight. Zen Palate is located on 16th and Union Square East. This Wednesday night it was packed—full of young health-conscious people looking to save a buck. It’s like something you’d find in a college town minus the college.

“Table for two,” we said and the hostess pointed to a table near the door. The door kept opening and closing and huge gusts of cold air came in so we asked for a different table.

“The only other table we have is near the bathroom,” she replied.

“I’d rather sit near the bathroom than near the door,” said Stella. Gentlemanishly, I obliged.

As you can see, this made for less than ideal dining circumstances:

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But I made do. (Haha—“made do.”)

Stella ordered herself a rice milk milkshake.

“It’s peanut flavored,” said the waiter. Stella said, “That’s ok.”

I said “nothing now” strategizing that I would try Stella’s and if I liked it I would get one for myself. The peanut rice milkshake arrived and Stella sipped it curiously.

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“It’s kind of gross,” she said, “but I like it.”

I took a sip and agreed. “It IS kind of gross but I like it too.” I ordered one for myself. As I sipped it throughout the rest of the meal I thought to myself: “What was I thinking?” Because it was REALLY gross, not just “kind of gross” as previously determined.

As for an entree I had the eggplant in garlic sauce. I figured this was a safe choice for my new health consciousness, though I’m not sure how much oil it was cooked in:

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Actually, that picture above presents an editorial challenge. I think the food in that picture looks nasty. Also, it tasted pretty nasty. I mean it wasn’t bad, but I’ve had much much better eggplant in garlic sauce in my time. I post that picture because I want to show what people are eating out there in the real world—at a restaurant that does a fairly good business. It’s no coincidence they sat me by the toilet: they know what the average consumer will tolerate.

I tolerated it and had fun with Stella. I’m no food snob. (Ok, maybe a little.) I left feeling healthy and boisterous. And it was nice to know that had I needed a bathroom at any point during my meal, I need only have turned my shoulder.

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