This Raw Vegan Restaurant Concept is Shaking Up NYC’s Fine Dining Scene
With nearly 1,000 vegan storefronts according to HappyCow, New York City’s plant-based food scene features everything from comfort classics to New York favorites like pizza. Even fine dining is turning its focus to plants – launched by the Overthrow Hospitality restaurant group, the raw vegan concept Rabbit will offer customers a fine dining experience, with an intimate, seasonally-inspired 13-course raw vegan tasting menu.
Rabbit’s innovative raw vegan menu is designed by Chef Xila Caudillo, who started at the hospitality group as an intern. The 12-seat restaurant will occupy the space previously home to Cadence in Manhattan’s East Village. When Cadence’s plant-based soul food’s following surpassed its capacity, Overthrow decided to move Cadence and give Chef Caudillo the space for her flagship restaurant.
Caudillo’s Rabbit is inspired by Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland. Hoping to guide her patrons “down the 'Rabbit' hole,” its menu will feature a storybook theme with poems, illustrations, and stories. The restaurant will offer menu items including watermelon gazpacho; zucchini lasagna with tomato and bail; seared watermelon served on nori and forbidden rice; and smoked walnut al pastor tacos topped with pineapple.
“When the idea for Rabbit came about, my first thought was healthy, but elevated, [food],” Caudillo said to VegNews. “I like a lot of fantasy and wanted the food to look like something out of a fairytale book. What would woodsy fairies and witches eat? This allowed me to be truly playful in the kitchen.”
Delivering a Fresh Perspective to Vegan Cooking
Overthrow Hospitality founder Ravi Derossi aims to close the gaps in the vegan food scene in New York City. The James Beard-nominated restaurateur hopes that Rabbit will provide customers with an appetizing, exciting dining experience that other vegan restaurants in the city lack, especially as raw vegan diets become more popular.
“Rabbit is our first raw vegan concept — it was an idea we had been playing with for a little while and were looking for the right chef and format,” DeRossi told VegNews. “We looked around and saw all the amazing vegan spots opening around the city and country, and wanted to add something new to that mix.”
Rabbit will be open from Wednesdays to Sundays for two seatings hosted at 6 pm and 8:30 pm. The tasting menu will be priced at $75 a person. The restaurant will also feature a wine list inspired by Cuadillo’s Mexican-American Heritage, with wines sourced from Latinx-founded vineyards committed to sustainability and environmentally-friendly cultivation practices.
Next Door: A Vegan Bakery
Finished with dinner but not quite ready to go home? On September 7, Overthrow Hospitality is planning to open a vegan dessert and wine bar next door to Rabbit. Led by Chef Lady Ashton Warren, The Fragile Flour will feature specialty dishes including lemon chamomile cream pie and coffee rum-soaked tiramisu featuring hazelnut mascarpone. The wine bar will also serve smaller savory plates such as mushroom pesto arancini.
“I’ve been a vegetarian since 2007 and have cornered the market on creating delicious treats to accommodate all dietary restrictions,” Warren said in a statement. “I believe everyone deserves dessert, and The Fragile Flour celebrates that.”
Fine Dining is Going Plant-Based
Last year, 81 vegan and vegetarian restaurants received a Michelin Star, signifying the fine dining world's newfound acceptance of plant-based cuisine. Until recently, plant-based food was criticized among the top chefs in the world including Gordon Ramsay, who recently admitted he "loves vegan food."
Top culinary institutions such as the Michelin committee and James Beard Foundation have acknowledged the potential of sustainable, plant-based cuisine. This August, the James Beard Foundation invited two vegan chefs, Sadhana Raj and Melissa Guzman, to join its Legacy Network's class of 2022 to 2023.
Last year, New York's Eleven Madison Park reopened after COVID-19 lockdowns with a completely vegan menu. The restaurant, known for its foie gras, determined that it was time to leave behind animal-based products and usher in a new era of healthier eating. Following Eleven Madison Park's decision, more upscale eateries have adopted plant-based cuisines and dishes for their menus.
To find plant-based fare in your area, check out The Beet's Find Vegan Near Me articles.