July 12, 2004 | Ask Gael
What Have You Found in the Raw-Food Craze?

         I’ve been ignoring this nutty trendlet, hoping it would go away. And when Matthew Kenney started soaking nuts and sprouting grains, I wrote it off as a midlife crisis. But I’ve sat in Pure Food and Wine's magical garden, learned that rice distresses one’s colon, and popped rice-free sushi into my mouth with chopsticks made of corn. To my amazement, I actually like the little rolls stuffed with pignoli and jícama. Indeed, our quartet of gourmands is beguiled by tomato tartare, the spicy Thai lettuce wraps, and a pineapple-cucumber gazpacho (anywhere else, it would be dessert). Soft corn tortillas with chili-spiced “beans” taste surprisingly Mexican. After zebra-tomato lasagne, hummus-slathered flatbread pizza topped with a savory salad, “creamy” golden-squash pasta with summer truffles, and dessert, I cancel plans to stop for a burger on the way home. All around us, vegans are rejoicing: “I’m a vegetarian and kosher,” says the perky twentysomething at the next table. And “my guy’s a vegan, so we couldn’t be happier.”

54 Irving Place, near 17th Street 212 477 1010

Patina Restaurant Group