I’ve been meaning to try Spring Natural Kitchen for some time now. An eclectic menu. A focus on Natural ingredients (hence the name). Moderate prices. Sounded like a good UWS dig to test out.
I suggested the restaurant to my friend for a much needed, catch up dinner this past Saturday night. Little did I know she had dined there previously and agreed without hesitation. It had to be good then. She wouldn’t normally trek so quickly from the East side.
I arrived to our 8PM reservation not overly impressed by the somewhat humble exterior of the restaurant, but was pleasantly surprised upon walking through the door. The restaurant is a large, open space, quite unique for NYC, with a variety of table seatings from bar stools, to booths to long, rectangular tables. The dim overhead lighting complements the backdrop of red brick walls and hard wood ceilings and floors to set a cool, hip vibe. Large party celebrations, intimate date nights and in my case, an overdue friendly catch-up, all could feel at home in this UWS eatery.
Spring Natural Kitchen is the sister restaurant to the Soho mainstay, Spring Street Natural, located not so surprisingly at 62 Spring Street. Established back in 1973, Spring Street Natural prides itself on being a pioneer of the “farm to table” movement and its underlying philosophy to serve minimally processed health food has been carried over to the newer UWS location.
The chefs at Spring Natural Kitchen prepare everything homemade, utilizing all-natural, carefully sourced ingredients. This is evident by the fresh herbs that adorn the plates and the exotic spices that are integrated into both dishes and cocktails.
The American style menu, simultaneously modern and traditional, draws inspiration from cuisines all over the world. Perfect for a group of varied taste buds as diners can select from Korean-inspired hanger steak to Mexican-style fish tacos to a classic Italian ravioli.
With so many options to choose from, including a special weekly menu of various appetizers, soups, entrées and beverages, my friend and I decided to share a few starters and mains. Our menu selections took us initially to Thailand and India and ended in Morocco and the United States.
Vegetable Spring Rolls ($10) **vegan Sautéed cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, glass noodles, mache, cilantro oil, tropical mango sauce.
Overall tasty with a sweet touch from the dipping sauce. Not as greasy as your typical spring roll which is a health plus but otherwise nothing too memorable. A good vegetarian (also vegan) option to share for a large table. $10 gets you four, reasonably sized spring rolls.
Curried Chickpea-Fava bean Fritters ($11) **vegan and gluten free Caramelized onions, jalapeno vegannaise
I knew I wanted to try this appetizer prior to dining, although I was skeptical about the “vegannaise” addition. Not only did the fritters not disappoint, the vegannaise was my favorite part. It was the perfect spread, both creamy and a little spicy, to top a crispy but not greasy, Indian-spiced fritter. Any leftover vegannaise did not go to waste and was used as an additional spread for the wonderfully hearty, seed-filled bread brought at the start of the meal.
Moroccan Vegetable Tagine ($19) **vegan and gluten free Organic quinoa, chickpeas, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, dried apricots, Turkish figs, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, saffron, chopped parsley
Whole grains, vegetables and fruit all combined in one healthy dish – difficult to find on most NYC dinner menus. A hearty dish without the need for chicken, meat or fish. A sweet taste comes from the figs and dried apricots but watch out for an unexpected burst of spice. You may need the water glass in hand.
Seared Jumbo Black Seabass ($28) **gluten free and a weekly special Quinoa-taro root puree, garlic-brown butter sauce, braised Holland leeks, oyster mushrooms, heirloom baby carrots
The most expensive item on the menu, but definitely worth the price in terms of taste and portion. The seabass was moist, flakey and melted in your mouth. The quinoa-taro root puree, a twist on the classic mashed potatoes, provided a deliciously unique combination of grainy and smooth textures. If anything were to be critiqued it would be the plating. The haphazardly drizzled brown sauce, although delicious, did not look too aesthetically pleasing.
Grapefruit-Serrano Margarita ($13) Serrano pepper infused tequila, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, triple sec, fresh lime juice, organic agave nectar
Refreshing, light and not overly sweet. But lacking the spicy kick that I was looking for and expected from Serrano pepper infused tequila. A good price for a decent-sized cocktail in NYC.
A fun, trendy place for an affordable dinner on a Friday or Saturday night, whether in a small group or a large party. A good option when diners have varied taste preferences and dietary needs.
On my next visit I would try the Crisp Roasted Half Chicken (olive oil polenta, Brussel sprouts, chestnuts, baby carrots, $23) and the Warm Molten Chocolate Cake ($9), mainly because it’s served with beet gelato! I would also test out Spring Natural Kitchen for brunch, as the Eggs Shakshuka ($15) appears to be a big hit, at least on Yelp.
Spring Natural Kitchen
474 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 646-596-7434 www.springnaturalkitchen.com