I had a deep need to eat healthy at lunch today, no doubt fueled by the gross intake of candy and peppermint bark that had occurred only moments before at an appointment (a holiday preview). Bonobo’s Vegetarian, on a charmless stretch of 23rd street just across from the park, beckoned. I had heard about it from a photographer at work, who raved about the coconut chai. I’m not a vegetarian, nor am I an impressively healthy eater. But I am intrigued by the idea that very healthy things can taste as good as very unhealthy things, and at present I am still waiting to be won over.
However, Bonobo’s did a pretty good job. I was feeling inspired and bought fresh young coconut water, coconut chai, avocado-cilantro soup, and a “nutmeat” salad. The coconut water was wonderful, just as fresh young coconut water should be (with that addicting nutty flavor) and not filled with the weird grape juice flavor you find in mass market juices like Vita Coco or Zico. The avo-cilantro soup was, at first taste, amazingly delicious, yet when faced with a large cup of it, I realized it was basically pureed guacamole and would be much better off with chips. The nutmeat salad was fairly unsatisfying, and the zesty sweet basil dressing I poured over it only mildly improved the nutmeat (essentially a nut pate). Now the coconut chai…that deserves special attention. Its creamy texture is much like eggnog, and the flavor- spicy masala chai tempered with smooth coconut- is almost like a coconut pumpkin pie (that’s a good thing). It sounds like a winter drink but poured over ice was like a nice dessert. Oh, wait, I was supposed to be eating healthy.