I have been eating at Candle Café regularly since I was diagnosed with Celiac. The more upscale, Candle 79, sister restaurant is part of the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program, but Candle Café has a menu with the gluten free items highlighted.

Up until a few weeks ago there were a couple appetizers, salads, main courses, sides and desserts that were gluten free. There were great options, but it wasn't an extensive offering. Well, the new winter menu has so many new gluten free items I struggled to choose.

I decided to start with the “Good Food” plate which allows you to pick four sides and two dressings from a list of over 12 gluten free sides and 7 gluten free dressings. My plate included Quinoa salad with black beans, Carmelized Onions, Steamed mixed veggies, Steamed Greens, with Carrot Ginger and Toasted Cumin Dressings.

As an Italian, I chose to get my salad after the main course. Roasted beets with shaved fennel, candied pecans and an almond nut cheese with cinnamon fig dressing. It was just as exquisite as it sounds.

For dessert I shared the Pumpkin Cheesecake with my friend. It was light and fluffy, more like a pumpkin mousse than a cheesecake but luscious nonetheless. (UPDATE April 2007: unfortunately they have changed their ingredients and the Pumpkin Cheesecake is no longer gluten free)

If you make it to Candle Café (or Candle 79) just ask for the gluten free menu; their regular menus are not marked. Some other favorites that didn’t make it into my dinner this week are the Paradise Casserole made with sweet potatoes, millet, black beans, greens and a country gravy. A new addition to the menu is a cashew crusted tofu – if it’s half as good as the cashew crusted tempeh at Candle 79 it is definitely worth trying. Other dessert options are a chocolate mousse pie, vanilla rice pudding or assorted soy ice creams and sorbets. Organic food doesn’t get any better than this.

Candle Cafe is located at 1307 3rd Ave, New York 10021 At 75th St Phone: 212-472-0970

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