THE BLOG
03/11/2011 03:49 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Raw Food -- Well Done?

My daughter had what she thought was a sure-fire deal for me -- accompany her her to a raw food restaurant where she would get $40 off the bill thanks to Groupon, and I would pay the balance. The key words here are "raw food restaurant."

I was happy to say 'yes' to my daughter but her restaurant of choice -- a high-end raw food establishment in a posh area of New York -- gave me pause. You see, even though we were going out for dinner, nothing would be "cooked." Hmmmm. I checked the restaurant's website and was reassured somewhat because the owners bragged that the place had many "meat and potatoes" guys who were regular customers. I'm not so much a meat and potatoes guy as I am a "gee, I'd like my food cooked" kind of guy.

But being a good sport, I went along. The restaurant looks like any other upscale NYC restaurant with the requisite beautiful people, and the menu features foods that I'd even heard of, old standbys like lasagna, spanikopita and Pad Thai. The only problem is that everything here is really (wink, wink) something else. Lasagna here is not made with noodles. Neither is the Pad Thai, and the spanikopita has something called almond cheese in place of Feta. I know what you're thinking -- who can resist, right?

The two women sitting next to us heard us mention the spanikopita and went into paroxysms of delight. "Oh, you have to have that," they both agreed. "It's fantastic."

Suffice it to say that these two ladies looked like they knew their way around a plate of food so I figured, why not? We also agreed to split the first course -- a polenta-stuffed flower.

Now I can't say anything tasted bad but, aside from the flower on my plate, I had no idea what I was eating. In fact, this is the kind of restaurant where I get the feeling that the cook is pulling my leg -- that he'd put ANYTHING he found lying around the kitchen on the plate as long as it wasn't cooked. In fact, my plate looked kind of like something AFTER someone ate it. If I'd found a brillo pad on that plate, I wouldn't have been all that surprised, unless it was cooked. Who knew what I was eating?

Then came the aforementioned spanikopita. It was...different. And here's the really weird thing about raw food -- you get very filled up very quickly. I'm not kidding. Just a couple of bites of that spanikopita and I was ready for dessert. Actually, I was ready to dive into anything that appeared to be something I'd eaten once before in my life. Not that I don't appreciate a good polenta-stuffed flower now and again but still....

The dessert was very good -- a salted chocolate caramel tart. Nearly everything was as advertised except the tart of course -- it's hard to make a tart crust without cooking but something took its place. I think it was a coaster from the bar next door!