Reastaurant Review: Caravan of Dreams, NY
A dreamy eating experience that takes you on a vegan journey you will savor!
When my old friend from high school and I decided to meet for dinner in NYC, she suggested we try Quintessence in Manhattan’s East Village. After checking out the menu online, I realized I wasn’t ready to experience a higher-priced all raw dinner on a chilly night in the city. I browsed the web for new ideas, and was intrigued by Caravan of Dreams (“organic, vegan cuisine”), in the same neighborhood just a few blocks away. The menu offered a creative mix of raw and vegan entrees and appetizers that got my mouth watering. Caravan of Dreams was established in 1991 by Spanish-born Angel Moreno, and it seems to be thriving today.
Arriving at the restaurant, I was glad to enter a bustling, yet calming, non-pretentious, brick-walled room that exuded a warm glow. We were seated in the back room by a noticeably happy wait staff. This back area had somewhat less ambiance than the front room, which contained a bar area, but it still offered a cozy place in which to settle. The website advertized live music, but it looks like the music is on hiatus until February, when they start up again with a full calendar. It was just as well, as my friend and I had a lot to catch up on, and we wouldn’t have been able to pay any real attention to a performance. I imagine, however, that the live music would only add to the inviting ambiance of the café.
They started us off with a complimentary “mouth-teaser,” a mini-bite of cantaloupe topped with shredded basil and drizzled with a flavorful vinegar. We then received our two colorful appetizers- the live nachos (gluten-free) and the beet “ravioli” which actually consisted of small beet slices sandwiching a walnut-based filling. The sour cream on the nachos was made of almonds, but was so convincing, that I re-checked the menu to be sure it wasn’t real sour cream! The chia chips (which I was told contained flax seed) were surprisingly crunchy and did not crumble upon biting them. We enjoyed and devoured them all.
For my entrée, I ordered the Tempeh Reuben, made of fermented soy, which is a vegan favorite of mine. When it is on the menu, I simply can’t help but to order it! The textures and mix of sour and sweet flavors were well-balanced. It also came with a choice of soup or salad, and I chose the cold, raw carrot ginger soup which was truly delectable. I was surprised by the way the flavors mixed and popped, without any heat. My friend enjoyed the enchilada from the evening’s specials section, while her girlfriend, (not a vegan ) enjoyed the live Pizetta made with a pumpkin seed crust, lots of fresh veggies (there was what looked like an entire sliced avocado on top of a bed of arugula, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, olives and mushrooms), and cashew cheese. Everything was exceptionally fresh and flavorful. It all felt very “clean” going down the hatch!
My only complaint is that the special peach sangria was so watered down that we asked the waiter to take it back, which he did (and he removed it from our bill). Some reviewers complained of slow service, but I enjoyed not being rushed. We stayed at the restaurant for 3 hours and at no point in time were we made to hurry up. We didn’t order dessert because we were so satisfied from our meal, but the options were tempting! Live dessert choices alone included: chocolate açai berry pie, coco-mango pie, banana almond butter pie, key lime pie and raw cacao fudge. Choosing would be challenging!
I would go back for their brunch meal which is offered a la carte, or at a fixed price of $15 which includes entrée, salad, and a drink. Everything is 100% vegan and kosher. I regret that we didn’t even look at their extensive drink and smoothie menu, which includes house-made, unpasteurized kefirs (which the menu states provide natural probiotics and microflora), natural supplements, live superfood smoothies, and ice cream smoothies made with coconut milk or house made cashew milk. I imagine it would be a great mid-afternoon stop for desserts and drinks in the summer.
I highly recommend you try this longstanding gem of an organic, vegan restaurant in a funky NYC neighborhood. It is not inexpensive, but neither is it truly over-priced, and supporting its commitment to community, healthy super-nutritious food, animals and the environment will make you feel as equally as satisfied as your flavorful and thoughtfully prepared meal. For photos of some of the menu options see our Vegan Gastronomy Sweet Tour – NYC post.