Candle Cafe West (vegan restaurant review)

We had dinner at Candle Cafe West, located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Friday, August 8th. As I arrived early for my rendezvous with Dr. Girlfriend, my first stop was the bar, where things did not get off to a good start.

At first glance, Candle Cafe West has a full bar… but they don’t have any beers on tap. I guess it’s a full bar as long as they check all the boxes, but… yeah. No beers on tap. I was bummed out immediately.

Happy hour wasn’t especially “happy” in terms of price (sorry, I forgot to take notes… maybe $4 beers… nothing special), but there was complimentary food available that I passed on, because if you’re about to have a twenty-dollar entrée, what’s the point of eating something the restaurant thinks so little of that they’re literally giving it away? To further my Happy Hour disappointment, said 60 minutes of discounts does not extend beyond the bar – so I was obliged to settle up at the bar before proceeding to my table. Maybe this is a standard thing… but if it’s not already clear, I didn’t love this experience.

Once we got settled with booze (serviceable but totally unmemorable bottled beer), we selected an appetizer:


Wild mushrooms, sautéed spinach, roasted garlic-tomato sauce, cashew parmesan

Sounds good, right? But… I dunno. I’m not a food critic. It wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t do anything, if you will. The word “bland” come to mind.

Let this set the tone for the rest of the meal.


Sautéed spinach, corn, grilled onion, potato pancake, black pepper-cabernet redution

Creamed spinach, mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes, white wine-lemon-caper sauce

I had the Portobello, Dr. Girlfriend had the Piccata. There were fine. Just… fine. I don’t know what I expected, but when I read “steak,” i didn’t think I’d get a pile of thinly sliced Portobello. On a high note, the potato pancake was wonderful. I only sampled a bit of the piccata, but it didn’t jump out at me. Dr. Girlfriend had enjoyed this entree before, but this time around, neither of us could detect the lemon in the white wine-lemon-caper sauce… or much of anything, really. Again, not bad, but just bland.

It should be noted that I thought their service was par or better – they certainly left no water-glass unfilled. It should also be noted that a restaurant review written by someone who doesn’t know what “redution” is (beyond sauce, I guess) may not be worth much, but I should point out that I’d missed lunch that day, so you’d think anything I ate would have tasted amazing, but it just didn’t happen.

That’s not to say that we didn’t eat our food – it was bland, not terrible. Also, at twenty bucks an entrée, you’d better believe I’m going to do my damnedest to slurp up the crumbs.

Chocolate sauce

Guess what we thought of this? Just guess! Yeah, it was bland. The chocolate sauce was OK, but the cheesecake itself just wasn’t getting it done. Dr. Girlfriend found it too spongy, but that didn’t bother me – it just didn’t taste like anything at all. I think we finally gave up and actually didn’t finish the $12 piece of cake. That’s how boring it was. (If you’re looking for good Vegan cheesecake, I’ll hook you up with a tip shortly.)

Maybe the Upper West Side is one of those neighborhoods that empties out during the summer and we got the B Squad… I dunno. I’d say give it a try and maybe you’ll have better luck (because Dr. Girlfriend has in the past), but at these prices… well, I can’t say it’s a must dine.

Candle Cafe West

2427 Broadway (between 89th and 90th Streets)
New York, NY 10024
Tel: (212) 769-8900

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on August 14, 2014, in vegan stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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