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DeRossi made headlines earlier this year when he announced that he would be converting all 15 of his New York City bars and restaurants, including the popular Bourgeois Pig, to vegan establishments as a way to slash their environmental impact. Avant Garden is the first of his forays into vegan cuisine.

RELATED: Bourgeois Pig owner announces plans to go vegan at all of his restaurants and bars

“While it may not seem a revolutionary act to simply enjoy a meal in a restaurant, the elimination of animal flesh and animal byproducts in one’s diet not only eases or eliminates an animal’s suffering, it’s also the most effective way an average person can ease the unmitigated environmental disaster that we as a species are collectively creating,” reads the restaurant’s website. “Each meal containing meat and/or dairy requires an unprecedented amount of natural resources to produce, and even small amounts create a truly shocking amount of pollution. Switching to a fully plant-based diet also likely prolongs one’s life, and certainly keeps one in better health than typical, traditional Western diets.”

But Avant Garden doesn’t just want to preach to the choir. One of the eatery’s main goals is to show meat eaters that animal-free meals don’t have to mean sacrificing flavor. Chef Alex Aparicio (formerly of Dovetail and then Narcissa) and his team skillfully transform the fresh, seasonal ingredients they procure into adventurous but harmonious tapestries of taste that are divided into three simple sections on the menu: toasts, cold and hot.

avant garden, avant garden nyc, vegan restaurants nyc, nyc green restaurant, vegan nyc, vegetarian food nyc, vegan lower east sideThe “toasts” feature medleys of vegetables, nuts and fruit scooped onto warm, crusty bread. The sunchoke toast with olive, pistachio and quince was a particular favorite.

We skipped the “cold” section since it was a chilly night, but thoroughly indulged in the “hots”.

avant garden, avant garden nyc, vegan restaurants nyc, nyc green restaurant, vegan nyc, vegetarian food nyc, vegan lower east sideGnocchi with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, pears and black garlic.

In addition to the savory menu offerings, Avant Garden‘s Earth-conscious ethos is also reflected in its interior decor, which was designed personally by DeRossi.

“When I envisioned the theme I wanted for this venture, it was very much an earthy and organic one, with plenty of rustic brown tones and dim lighting – my vision was to create an intimate dining space, where my diners would feel comfortable and in natural surroundings,” the restaurateur told us. “Keeping in mind the importance of sustainability in today’s world, we endeavored to source as much re-purposed furniture as possible for the kit out of the restaurant. For example, the wood dining table tops, the shelving units and the centrally hanging branch chandelier have all been salvaged and re-constructed. Additionally, our bar counter is constructed from petrified wood. Many of the other elements in the space, whilst not being actual recycled items, have originated from natural products such as stone and wood, rather than man-made commodities, in keeping with the eco-friendly aspect of our theme.”

Avant Garden is located at 130 East 7th Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and is open from 5PM to 10:45PM from Sunday-Thursday and from 5PM-11:45PM on Friday and Saturday.

+ Avant Garden