Saturday, June 25, 2005
Mundo: Vegetarian Wonder of Astoria
I had been avoiding Mundo because of some shameless promotion on one of the websites I frequent, but eventually we wandered in, mostly because we were underdressed for our first choice for the evening. Who knew it would be so blog-worthy?
Mundo is decorated simply but beautifully. It was *hot* outside, but comfy in the cool, plush (but not posh) interior. It's on 32nd Street, just South of Broadway.
This place reminds me of a younger, veggier, Cravo & Canela - a fabulous place that was open on 34th Av & 32nd Street - only for about 8 months, 2 years ago. Does anyone remember that place?
After we sat, the waiter/co-owner began explaining the menu. He had lots to tell. The food is Turkish-Brazilian and we were glad he gave us the scoop. He’s quite a chatty one. I know this place sounds uber trendy, but give it a chance. It’s super vegetarian-vegan-friendly, but without any of those groaty meat substitutes. I hate that "tofu-chicken" crap. Mundo has lots of interesting salads, grains, beans, & veggies. There is actual meat and fish on the menu, too. The plates are small, but rich and not expensive. It's easy to over-order.
When we sat, warm pita arrived accompanied by an olive oil with sumac and sesame seeds. They brought us a carrot and yogurt dip on the house (we were the only people there at the moment) which was *really* good.
Like all restaurants when they first open here, Mundo doesn't have their liqueur license yet. You are welcome to bring in wine or beer. We sipped Turkish soda - sweet, but with a funky kick.
Our artichokes were enormous, carved-out, and stuffed with peas, carrots and a pretty pearl onion. The fava bean pate was shaped into a butterfly and a tree! That’s the kind of presentation that makes me feel loved.
We had a salad of black-eyed peas and chopped veggies. It was a luxury on a hot day. The Red Sonia - sort of a moist bean and grain patty snuggled in lettuce leaves with fresh lemon juice on top - was veggie-vegan dream food. The shrimp were just warm shrimpy goodness. They came in a clay pot au gratin with a red sauce and were very fresh. If you eat fish, you must order them.
At this point the fresh-faced chef/co-owner popped out of the kitchen to say "hello". He told us that he's Turkish but tries to incorporate some Argentine and Brazilian elements into the food. That seems to work for him.
We declined dessert, but these two can't resist. They left us with a serving of delicious chocolate mouse. It was chocolate perfection. (Is there any other kind?) I had to skip ice cream on the way home. So much for that review.
This pair are running Mundo all on their own, and from what I can see, doing a bang-up job of it. I hate to write another rave review, but this place rocked.
Key points here: veggie-vegan-friendly, food was great, service was outstanding. A nice joint, but totally unpretentious. This is what I’m *talking* about, folks!