Friday, July 22, 2016

Outdoor Dining at Vandal Restaurant offers Street Art & Sophisticated Street Eats

Vandal Restaurant's Street Art, photo courtesy: Shannon Ho
This feature was prepared and written in conjunction with Shannon Ho, Garden Glamour guest reporter and intern.

The outdoor dining at Vandal restaurant is an artsy space for those who love the feel of seeing New York City’s colorful streetscape portraits through the lens of a cafe; a kind of theater with an intimate, colorful view of the pulsating Gotham art scene; altogether a potent mix of fine art and culinary art. Think of dining in a fine art gallery - with a spicy mashup of street art and street food. 

In fact, Renowned street artists Eelus and Shepard Fairey cover three walls of Vandal’s al fresco dining space. It's a full-frontal sensual experience to take in the floor to ceiling red-hot and black aesthetic. 
Photo courtesy: Shannon Ho
The architecture also makes it possible to dine with an extended, outdoor seasonal experience. The decor hints of a garden with greenery on the ceiling, accented with sparkly lights and petite vases with a single, bright flower on each table.
Of note: because of its proximity to the street, noise is very much a part of the menu. If the cacophony of “traffic symphony” isn't your cup of tea - Vandal offers quieter, more intimate dining spaces within its two indoor dining areas, (total seating is 360) and long bar. Even more street artists beckon throughout the restaurant, including Tristan Eaton, Will Barras, Vhils, Apex and Hush.

Photo courtesy: Shannon Ho
To get started, the drink menu offers an array of cocktails. For something with a kick, Sergeant Bell Pepper is a gin cocktail that brings the heat; at the same time delivers a refreshing coolness with each sip.

On the sweeter side, the Double Dutch is a fruity vodka cocktail with a mix of refreshing seasonal berries that is a sexy summer beverage to savor.  

The menu is categorized by sizes. Under the “Small & Medium” portion of the menu, the waiter recommended ordering two or three items for a party of two. This was baffling at first, as they were similar to the entrees in price, but upon seeing and tasting these delectable appetizers, they proved to be well worth it. 
The Thai Papaya Summer Rolls are light and “breezy,” with the crispness of an apple. 
Seafood lovers should consider the Tuna Crudo or the Blackened Shrimp Arepas. The Tuna is tartare, with a kick of curry and fresh, sweet coconut. The Blackened Shrimp offers multiple, nuanced layers and textures: the crunch of the fried corn tortilla, the tenderness of the grilled shrimp, and the purple radish garnish, decked out by the smoothness of the chipotle cream. 
Another recommendation was the Shawarma Salad, made with chicken, homemade falafel croutons, and a thick, pasty white hot sauce. The salad was inspired by halal typical cart street food, but boasting a sophistication in its superb quality and variation of textures. This salad exceeded all expectations, and is highly recommended. 

The “Large” portion of the menu consists of sizable entrees. The Prime Skirt Steak Fried Rice is savory and sweet. It includes Chinese sausage--a sweetened variation of pork, with a sunnyside-up egg on top. The dish has a runnier texture from traditional fried rice due to the egg and array of sauces; marries well with the tender steak and sweet sausage. It is a unique Vandal recipe.  
Another entree worth noting is the Balinese ‘Beach Style’ Branzino which is small and sweetened with a soy sauce glaze.  

And how could you leave without dessert? Vandal has its own pastry chef -- and the confections reflect the dedicated intricacy of the original recipes and their elegant presentations. The Blueberry Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich is absolutely top notch. Fresh berries are a seasonal garnish, along with the sweet berry sauce trickled on top of the pretty macaroon. These flavors accent the fresh, house-made vanilla ice cream. If asked to choose between this and the Nutella Cannoli, the ice cream sandwich wins out. 
Blueberry Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich, photo courtesy Shannon Ho

Vandal offers a multi-sensual dining experience that goes beyond the food itself.  Go for the food and drink.  Linger for the art… 
Photo courtesy: Shannon Ho

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