The Eat Sheet: Where to Go Gourmet Vegetarian in New York City

L. Long

So where do Rachel Weisz, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gisele Bundchen go for haute cuisine vegetarian? Here are the five top spots in Manhattan to eat green right now

It's easy being green in NYC. While the city may be famed for its hot dog stands and pizza-making prowess, several top chefs are helping the Big Apple live up to its earth and body-friendly nickname with vegetable-based menus all the rage in the city. New York's chefs are letting their leafy friends steal the spotlight from their meatier and fishier costars and proving they are more than just supporting roles as side dishes and salads. Whether you’re looking for a light summer meal under the scorching sun or trying to stay fit before the early fall film festival season gets underway, here are THR's top picks for a veg-central meal in Manhattan.

Daniel Boulud
At, Daniel, his eponymous spot on the Upper East Side, French chef Daniel Boulud offers a full vegetarian menu complete with several choices for every course. Boulud's effervescent personality shines through in his cooking and Daniel's spacious dining room and attentive though not obsequious wait staff make for a special evening whether for a long business lunch or a celebratory dinner. Start with a tasting of young carrots or a celery gazpacho, follow with a fennel royale with black mission figs or a cauliflower mousseline before ending on a sweet note. Howard Stern was a recent guest. Boulud has also just opened the new Mediterannean-themed Boulud Sud just across from Lincoln Center. The "Le Jardin" portion of the menu is entirely devoted to vegetable dishes including a Salade Tropezienne with artichokes, celery and fennel or a Ratatouille with soft egg. The restaurant just opened in May, but already boasts a celeb following including Bette Midler, Gene Wilder, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Weisz, Steven Sondheim and Jeremy Irons. Boulud Sud will serve lunch "à la mode" starting just in time for NYC’s September fashion week. (Daniel: 60 East 65th Street; Boulud Sur: 20 West 64th Street)

Pure Food & Wine
Sarma Melngailis pioneered New Yorkers into the raw food movement before it was trendy and now has a vast local, international and celeb following that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Clinton, Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady. "We cater quite a bit to the entertainment biz, a lot of musicians and actors,” Melngailis says of the restaurant and One Lucky Duck take-out service that boasts several industry regulars, adding: "I think people who have to perform in their careers are particularly aware of how food, diet and lifestyle can affect energy levels." The sleek décor inside and scenic outdoor garden provide "an intimate setting for people who don’t want to dine under a spotlight," says Melngailis. Don't miss Pure's oven-free yet flavor-filled classic raw lasagna and new seasonal, creative creations like fresh figs with black summer truffles or a blueberry lavendar tart and beat the sweltering summer heat with a bowl of their famous cashew-based ice cream. (54 Irving Place)

Adour by Alain Ducasse at the St Regis New York
Vegetables have always starred in Alain Ducasse's cuisine and the celebrity French chef has brought his seasonal savoir-faire to NY with a special vegetarian tasting menu at the Adour restaurant at the St Regis. Based on his mantra of "60% ingredients and 40% technique" Ducasse uses fresh, local and seasonal fare for the 5-course culinary tour de vegetables that includes a chilled local sweet corn veloute, white vegetable carpaccio, Yukon gold potato gnocchi, the chef's famous "cookpot" filled with veggies from NY state finished off with a mango, coconut and passion fruit vacherin. Ducasse recently treated Prince Albert of Monaco and his royal and celebrity wedding guests to a veg-centric menu. If you weren’t invited to the festivities, this is the next best thing. (2 East 55th Street)
Blue Hill NYC
If you can’t find the time to schedule a trip out to the farm, not to worry, Dan Barber is bringing farm to table dining to Manhattan at Blue Hill's Washington Place location. And if eating farm animals isn't your thing, not to fear, Barber has handpicked a wide array of garden gems to keep your meat-free palate busy. The fresh menu changes daily based on Mother Earth's whims and recent options include a grilled sugar baby watermelon with goat cheese, heirloom tomato salad or tomato and melon gazpacho to start followed by an emmer and quinoa primavera as a main with a choice of side superstars like marinated beets or cherry tomatoes, summer beans or roasted peanut potatoes. Book early at the always-packed location whose intimate setting provides a welcome refuge for celebs including President and Michelle Obama who chose Blue Hill for a date night. (75 Washington Place)

Eleven Madison Park
You don’t have to be a celebrity anymore to design your dream dinner. At Eleven Madison Park (pictured below), exec chef Daniel Humm lets diners choose their favorite ingredients and signal their least favorites, then creates dishes designed exclusively for them. Humm is happy to oblige even the most picky of palates and makes sure that perfect produce makes its way to every plate.  "Vegetables showcase seasons in a way that no other food can. For me, cooking with vegetables has always been about highlighting every aspect of their flavor and texture and about being very creative," Humm says. The chef enjoys cooking several versions of the same vegetable – he'll roast, crisp, puree and fry that eggplant you requested – and his carrot-based dish (yes, carrots indeed) was a menu sensation for months.  "For me as a chef, I'm used to working with many luxury ingredients, but I've realized that there is also a luxury that comes with finding the right carrot, or the right celery, or the right peas," Humm explains, adding: "And building dishes around those ingredients can be incredibly beautiful and rewarding." (11 Madison Avenue) -- Photo by Francesco Tonelli