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.

9 comments

  1. Zen Palace has been around for a long time. It’s a frequent hut for many NYU students, at least that’s true when I was still there. I always thought the food is awful and really not that healthy. I don’t know how that place survived for so long…

  2. I have tried on many occasions to enjoy the food at Zen Palate, but it always disappoints me. As a vegan, the concept behind the restaurant is positive but it is poorly executed (i.e. high prices for low quality, bland food).

    I would recommend Vegetarian’s Paradise 2, Red Bamboo or Candle Cafe over Zen Palate any day.

  3. you want to be careful with eggplant; it soaks up a TON of oil. not so healthy!

    zen palate always seemed sort of un-fresh and oily to me in general…

  4. hey, i dined there once, and what can i say, you get what you pay for =/ ehhh food with a even worst shake (thou i forgot which one i got)

  5. If you are interested in healthy cuisine in NYC 2 places rule – Angelica’s Kitchen and the Candle Cafe. Zen Palate is o.k. but it seems to get by on it’s candle apple sweet faux fried meat type recipes. I guess some people like all that sugar!

    Oh, I also like Caravan of Dreams for a real old east village new york hippy vibe! It’s kind of funny. And there is a yummy tiny raw foods restaurant in the East Village, does anyone know what it’s called?

  6. Whoa, Zen Palate is one of my favorite restaurants ever! I’ve tried the mock chicken sandwich with yam fries, kale and brown rice, and banana cream pie. I thought it was phenomenal! I thought it was a good deal too: my sandwich was about $5.

  7. Yes, eggplant is a dangerous food if you’re trying to lose weight. So, for that matter, is eating out of any sort, since you can’t ever be too sure how much of anything goes into your food.

  8. Zen Palate isn’t my favorite veg restaurant but its up there. I haven’t been in a while so maybe the service and menu items have changed but I never tried anything I didn’t like there. Of course I would never have tried a peanut flavored milkshake. I mostly got the mock dishes but I’d been to their fancier dining room where they really go “elegant” and at a decent price. Zen Palate is two restaurants in one, I don’t think most people realize that.

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