Creative and delicious vegetarian food from a place with a name like The Butcher’s Daughter? Heck yes! We stopped in to this tiny but bright restaurant in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood the other night to see if it could be true. And was it ever.
The restaurant’s website says they “treat fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat,” and we found that the chef does treat produce lovingly and carefully, rather than just an afterthought as so many restaurants do. Interestingly enough, the items on the menu that got our attention the most were the most carnivorous sounding ones. Knowing that the restaurant is ovo-vegetarian (they do use eggs, though not milk products), we were especially curious to see how they pulled off some of these most meat- and dairy-centric dishes.
We started with some simple juices, as they’re called on the menu—a “red,” with pear, beet, and ginger, and a “yellow,” with pineapple, jicama, and lemon. Both were refreshing without being too sweet. The menu also boasts some amazing sounding smoothies like the Brass Monkey (frozen banana, peanut butter, honey, almond butter, almond milk, and maca) and Mango Lassi (frozen mango, coconut yogurt, young Thai coconut, pressed lime, bee pollen), but we didn’t want to fill up before the food had showed up.
For a starter, we tried the loaded potato skins—the “topped with adzuki bacon” mention on the menu was what really piqued our curiosity. We’ve seen mushrooms, tofu, and even coconut masquerading as bacon, but never beans. While not the prettiest dish at The Butcher’s Daughter (those awards go to the beet deviled eggs—they’re pink!—and the smashed avocado toast bites that everyone else seemed to be ordering), the potato skins hit all the right notes that you want your potato skins to, without being greasy like the appetizer typically is. The adzuki bacon was chewy and smoky, and totally worked as far as we’re concerned.
Next up we shared a charcuterie plate (aka fancy French word for prepared meats like sausage and pate) that came with mushroom-walnut pate, white bean-fennel sausage, and cashew ricotta and fig mostarda. This dish plays a game with your tastebuds. It looks exactly like an imported meat plate you might get at an Italian restaurant. But the flavors are something completely new. Our favorite was the cashew ricotta and fig mostarda, together on a piece of bread. A little creamy, a little salty, a little sweet. Yum.
Finally, we tried the angel hair carbonara. Made with spaghetti squash rather than actual pasta, there’s no question this meal is going to be something different that what you might think of when you hear “angel hair carbonara” (typically pasta with a super-creamy sauce and loads of bacon). And this “something different” was delicious. The squash is topped with more of the cashew ricotta, roasted tomatoes, arugula, breadcrumbs, and cracked black pepper. It was so good, and after eating it we felt so good—not overstuffed like you’d feel after a plate of traditional angel hair carb. The one thing that felt missing, though, was a stand-in for the bacon that pasta carbonara is usually topped with. We would love to have seen what The Butcher’s Daughter might have done had they played with that concept (we just read about Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s idea of using shitake mushrooms to make a “bacon” topping for pasta carbonara, and just may have to test run it soon in the SmartGirlVeg kitchen!)
For dessert, we tried the vegan ice cream sandwich. The ice cream itself (vanilla—why mess with a classic?) was coconut-based and delicious. The sandwich part was basically a huge scone, so it was on the dry side. Next time we’ll just stick with the ice cream on it’s own.
As much as we enjoyed The Butcher’s Daughter, though, “next time” will probably be for brunch as we’ve been hearing that’s when the restaurant really shines (also, we’d really like an excuse to have some coffee with the house-made almond, hazelnut, or pistachio milk—how cool is that?!). And speaking of shine, when the weather’s nice this petite restaurant expands to nearly twice its size thanks to outdoor seating, making The Butcher’s Daughter a perfect place to hit up when all of this snow melts and things start to heat up.
In a nutshell:
- Excellent, creatively prepared food.
- Loads of healthy options—everything, really!
- Great for the person who likes trying new things, however there are still some more simple items like egg sandwiches and avocado toast for diners who are less experimental.
- Hip, trendy spot.
- Pricey, considering it’s a pretty casual restaurant.
- Limited space, not a great place for a big group (better for eating with one or two other people); though if you can sit outside it’s a bit better for a crowd.
Is there a vegetarian restaurant in you’re hometown you’re just dying to try? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org—we’d love to have you review it for us a guest post!