Spud and I have been on a bit of a health kick lately. After last year’s dozen entries into Pillsbury Bake-off gluttony and scoping out BBQ joints in the city, we have been trying to take a lighter approach to satisfying our restaurant lust. I have had a tougher time with it than Spud, and not because I’m “the guy” and have to eat bloody meat all the time, it’s actually the opposite. Having spent my childhood in a house full of vegetarians, with a nutritionist, now vegan, mother, I have been force fed more types of raw vegetables and fake meats than any non-farm animal. Because of this, hearing the mere term “vegetarian restaurant” makes me want to cuddle up a juicy roast pork loin for the afternoon. But in Quantum Leap, I have finally found one that does not make my skin crawl and is quite good.
203 1st Avenue (12-13), NYC
Quantum Leap is quite different than most of its East Village veg neighbors. It has a bright, cheery, clean vibe, much like a nice modern style diner. The staff and other patrons do not resemble starving 100 pound waifs, and there was Bob Marley’s Legend album playing, which I will never ever get tired of. The menu itself was extremely diverse and interesting, with Mexican, Japanese, and fish and seafood offerings. It is healthy food, without be scary food…finally! It is somewhat similar to Dojo, but has higher quality, more creative fare, with only slightly higher prices. It is definitely not intimidating for meat eaters, unlike Anjelica Kitchen around the corner. They specialize in non-meat burgers, and we had the soy-based burger topped with portobello mushrooms, grilled onions and peppers and pesto sauce, which actually tasted like meat. I am not one to throw those words around either. We also had this great Mexican platter with guacamole, soy chorizo tacos, and veg enchiladas. It was really good. Check out the menu. The flavored ice teas were refreshing. We went for lunch, but the brunch and dinner menus look great as well. Quantum Leap’s original location is in the West Village, and has been for decades. This brand new EV location has a lot of competition, but it is a winner and has converted this former seitan-o-phobe. I am thinking about even giving it a Golden Bonzone, but it may require another visit or two before it is worthy of that prestigious award.