Though they weild big knives, you get the feeling that the chefs in the kitchen of Candide wouldn't hurt a fly. And engage in meditation before they don their chef whites. There's just something so damn Zen about Candide—and I mean that as a compliment. Those lucky enough to sit at the bar can watch the staff as they glide quietly around the open kitchen, building plates from all sorts of vegetables, leavened, every once in a while, by guinea fowl or lamb or some other form of meat. But vegetables take precedence and that's by design. The restaurant, which takes its name from the last line of Voltaire's book—"but let us cultivate our garden"—is devoted to coaxing as much flavor as possible from fresh herbs (picked that afternoon, a chef informed me on my last visit), edible flowers, artichoke, cauliflower and all sorts of other produce, both usual and un. It's all delish, and served by a crew so kindly that they've created a list of other restaurants they think their customers should try which they hand out at the end of the meal. The most peaceful part of dining here? Getting the bill. It's a steal at just $47 for a four course tasting menu.
Note: The restaurant is set in the former rectory of a Victorian church and its door can be hard to find. You may want to take a look at the restaurant's website before showing up.
- Pauline Frommer