Decadent, Nourishing Dining
Decadent, Nourishing Dining
February marked my 10-year veggieversary. I finally decided to give up meat at age 16, after flirting with the diet for most of my life. I never particularly enjoyed the taste and texture of meat and reading books by Michael Pollan, which detailed the excessive resources that went into meat production and the cruelty faced by livestock and farm workers alike, offered convincing enough evidence that this was the right choice for me.
A decade later, eating out is one of my favorite pastimes and I’m always in search of comfortable, chic restaurants that cater to both me and my omnivorous friends and family. It was this hunt that brought me to Ellary’s Greens, a charming, 2-year-old eatery in the West Village offering a menu of nutrient-dense meals.
It’s no accident that Ellary’s—named after founder Leith Hill’s grandmother and great grandmother—serves up a hearty menu of proteins, vegetables, roots, grains, sandwiches and fruity drinks in an inviting space filled with light, plants and fleur de lis-themed decor. Leith says she comes from a family of generations of “healthful food afficionados,” a novelty in her birthplace New Orleans, which she playfully refers to as “the land of booze, butter and beignets.” She uses organic and locally-grown ingredients whenever possible, which has lead to some rather innovative urban farming solutions, like the mushrooms grown in Bronx garages that her dedicated team turns into a savory, creamy side dish with a flavorful kick that won me over.
With roughly 25-percent of her patrons having some dietary restriction (gluten-free, nut allergies, vegan, kosher, etc.), Leith aims to make Ellary’s Greens “a place for everyone to come” by sticking to simple, fresh ingredients and packing them with a flavor punch through intensive preparation techniques. You won’t find liquid smoke in her kitchen—the team smokes bacon, deviled eggs and tofu in house with applewood. The sandwiches, like the chickpea burger, proved light and satisfying for lunch, and hungrier diners are treated to crispy roasted chicken breast, spinach ricotta gnocchi and grilled salmon. “Eat for vitality and serve for vitality,” Leith says of her restaurant’s goal, and she follows through to the very end with her dessert menu. If there’s ever a place to find guilt-free sweets, it’s here and most evident in the chocolate mousse. You’d never guess that the rich, fudgy dessert with the consistency of pudding actually contains good-for-you fats from avocado and dairy-free whipped cream made from coconut. The Bliss Bar, made with an almond-butter cookie base, fresh fruits, nuts and a dark chocolate ganache, is also decadent and easily packed up to go. Diners can expect to leave the restaurant nourished and satiated.
It’s places like Ellary’s Greens, where omnivores have a vast selection of healthy, well-prepared meats, and vegetarians and vegans are treated to something much better than an iceberg-lettuce salad and a baked potato, that make it easier than ever for people of mixed diets to dine together. Here’s to many more years of finding new things to love about vegetables, and to my fellow foodie’s enjoyment of their favorite foods, prepared with a love of all fine ingredients.
Ellary's Greens, 33 Carmine St., btw Bedford & Bleecker sts., 212.920.5072