Straight off the opening of his Golden Girls tiki fanfic, restaurateur Ravi DeRossi tackles "upscale vegan" at his new East Village restaurant Avant Garden. With a decor evoking the great outdoors—if the great outdoors came with cozy fabric chairs and elegant votive holders—the restaurant celebrates the bounty of nature while preserving the lives of our animal brethren. Sorry vegetables—it's time for your slaughter.
The kitchen, led by Executive Chef Andrew D'Ambrosi, is executing veggie-focused dishes like gourmet toasts topped with pickled peach, tomato, almond ricotta, and basil (Tomato Jam, $12) and cold dishes including a Kale Panzanella salad with onion, olive, garlic and croutons ($14). There's no steak on the menu but mushrooms—often thought as of the meat of the vegetable world—are the star of the King Oyster ($18), with miatake, smoked macadamia, and crispy leeks.
In addition to the restaurant, DeRossi has launched BEAST (Benefits to End Animal Suffering Today), a nonprofit animal advocacy group that'll offer grants to other non-profits in support of animal welfare. Once it gets up and running, the organization will raise money through events to support the well-being of groups that "make caring about animals of all types eternally cool."
130 East 7th Street, (646) 922-7948; website. Open Sunday - Thursday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday/Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight