Le Botaniste $$, Upper East Side:
Stumbling around the Upper East Side, this place was such a treat to find. I didn’t discover it on my own — instead I used an amazing app created by a guy named Matt (check out his Instagram page here) called Vegan NYC. The app uses your location to show you vegan eats around NYC, starting with those places that are closest to you and going further out from there. But not only that, you can also find vegan-friendly clothing and make-up near you using the same app!
I’m still not familiar with all the vegan spots in NYC, so I had my fingers crossed for finding something in the neighborhood I was in — luckily there was a vegan eatery not too far from me. And that’s how I found Le Botaniste. They already had me drawn in with the name (I am currently trying to become fluent in French!) but once I went inside, it was like entering an entirely different, but amazing world — the interior is meant to resemble a quaint little apothecary-style laboratory. As you venture over to the food counter, the menu boasts small plate offerings of veggie sushi, summer rolls, and spreads and dips. There are also DIY poke style bowls*, and pre-made bowls filled with globally-inspired fare.
They have such unique vegan offerings that I truly wanted to take everything in before ordering anything — young coconut ceviche, red beet cavier and seaweed tartare are just a few of the spreads that caught my eye and made me want to know more. This is also one of those types of places that people walk into and have no idea of how to order or what it is. Honestly, unless you’re familiar with it or you frequent the place on the regular, my guess would be that at least half (and maybe more) of the customers that come in all ask “how does this work?” That was my first question — and I want to give a shout out to Dana and Jess who completely helped me out there. They were not only well-informed, explaining everything to me in detail, but they also happily engaged me in a heavy vegan discussion, in which I discovered that neither of them were vegan; but I hope that our conversation inspired them to consider the idea more seriously!
But back to the food — so after going through what everything was, I decided on a bowl. I couldn’t choose between two, so I went with what Jess said was the crowd favorite — their most popular bowl, the Tibetan Mama. The bowl is comprised of a brown rice base, with steamed green veggies, Ghentse kimchi which was, in my opinion, mildy spicy, and a coconut curry peanut butter sauce. After the first few bites I totally understood why this bowl was so popular, but my senses were still overwhelmed because they had so many other offerings and everything look so delicious!
The brown rice and steamed veggies were basic parts of the bowl, yes. If you’re looking for something that will be filling but not make you feel sluggish, this bowl is a great option because both of these items are loaded with fiber. In my opinion, the star of the bowl is definitely the coconut curry sauce. It has a slightly thicker consistency, but still remains at an almost soup-like flow, flavoring everything in the bowl. I ate about a quarter of the way through the bowl made as-is to really get the flavor profile on my taste buds. Without any additional seasoning, the flavor is great — however, I added a decent amount of the hot sauce they have at the table after tasting that on the side. It definitely up’ed the flavor game for sure, especially for me since I love spice!
So, the Tibetan Mama definitely set the bar high; scroll down to see pics of the delicious bowl as well as the cute interiors and some of the other yummy offerings they have. If you’re looking for the strong curry and kimchi flavors this bowl offers without the fiber bulk, stick with the Tibetan Mama, but lessen the load by swapping out the brown rice for cauliflower rice — that will also knock down a substantial amount of calories if you wanna keep it super health-conscious. Or you could just make your own bowl and throw in whatever you like.
I’ll be back to this amazing place this summer for sure. As for how many times, I truly can not say because, well, they ain’t cheap. But I really want to try some of their other bowl offerings, specifically the chili sin carne and the vegetable tajine. And regardless of price, rest assured that you are feeding your body well in your spending splendor—everything served at Le Botaniste is 100% plant-based, 99% organic, and 100% gluten-free. And I’ve already gone over the amazing benefits of eating organic. With food credentials like this, it’s no wonder why they refer to themselves as the “beauty salon” for your insides. Merci pour l’incroyable nourriture Le Botaniste!
The Vegan Girl Wallet Guide:
$: Cheap eats! (<$10)
$$: Treat yo self! (<$15) (you might be able to get your grub on in the “cheap eats” range if you grab one of a few small plates or the soup of the day, priced at around $7. But add a drink and your right back here.)
$$$: Indulge! (<$20)
$$$$: Splurge! (<$25)