Willow, a brand new Vegan bistro, is one of the many restaurants that have bravely opened up during COVID-19 with hopes that they’ll be a hit long after this pandemic has officially said goodbye.
Beyond Sushi‘s Executive Chef Guy Vaknin and his wife Tali are the forces behind this new vegan concept that will bring innovation to classic American comfort cuisine. Willow launched this past Friday with delivery and takeout to start and will open for indoor dining when restrictions are lifted.
Chef Vaknin is taking what he’s learned over the last decade as a chef and restaurant owner of the vegan-favorite Beyond Sushi to create a new warm and cozy eatery focused on comfort food that all New Yorkers, vegan or not, will love.
The vegan visionaries launched Beyond Sushi in New York City in 2012, expanding to five locations and garnering widespread support for their innovative take on sushi along with other signature dishes over the last 8 years.
Chef Vaknin’s globally inspired plant-based cuisine incorporates unconventional flavors and techniques. He credits his love of cooking to his Moroccan grandmother. Raised in a big family, food was always the center of their weekly gatherings. After graduating from NYC’s Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), he was the Executive Chef of a kosher catering company where he developed the idea that would become Beyond Sushi. In 2019, the husband and wife duo launched City Roots, a vegan catering business and Willow is their newest venture.
“It’s been a tough year for New York, and restaurants have taken a big hit. We’re looking into the future, and we’re committed to our vision of sharing plant-based food to our community. We’re excited to explore new flavors and offer something special and creative. I saw a real need for vegan comfort food, especially amid the ongoing pandemic, and I wanted to bring my take on that to NYC,” said Willow Chef & Owner Vaknin.
He’s curated a menu of craveworthy vegan comfort food for lunch and dinner. Mouth-watering entrees include Porcini Chick’n Marsala with creamy polenta, sautéed broccolini, oyster mushrooms, red wine au jus and chives, “Steak” Frites made with grilled seitan steak, a creamy wild mushroom demi-glace with crispy herb fries, “Scallop” Cacio e Pepe with organic semolina linguine, oyster mushroom “scallops,” wakame, creamy “parmesan” sauce, cracked black pepper, evoo and parsley and a signature Willow Flatbread with “Ricotta,” aged balsamic, pistachios, artichokes, dried mission figs and baby arugula.
Finger foods like “Cheeseburger” Sliders, Cauliflower Wings, Taquitos and “Calamari,” panko crusted oyster mushroom rings will be on the menu along with a variety of sandwiches including a “Tuna” Melt with JAX tuna salad, Dijon mustard, “cheddar,” sliced tomatoes and pickles on toasted ciabatta and a Cherrywood Smoked Pastrami made with maple, coriander and garlic seitan with grain mustard, “provolone” cheese and cabbage slaw on rustic Rye bread.
Salads and specialty soups will also be available in addition to a variety of delicious desserts like a Vanilla Bean Cashew Cheesecake or Bananas Foster Cake with caramelized bananas, a rum flambé sauce, strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Fresh juices will include a Carrot, Apple and Ginger combination, a Coconut, Beet and Blueberry along with a Grape, Celery and Honeydew option.
The 2,200 square foot restaurant will have a capacity for 49 diners indoors and outdoor seating coming in Spring 2021. A cozy interior design will be on display courtesy of Studio RB. The aesthetic of the space is rich with royal blue, gold accents and a touch of blush pink. Marble white tables adorn the space with plush velvet seating. The atmosphere was made to feel comfortable and inviting. The Willow logo is backlit in the entryway in front of a recycled barn wood wall and blackened mirror. Accents of bronze are carried throughout the restaurant. The bar is cozy with textured features and acrylic and gold seating.
Willow will be open for takeout and delivery 7 days a week from 11:30am – 10pm. Delivery will be offered by Postmates, Uber Eats, GrubHub/Seamless, Doordash and directly from the restaurant by visiting www.willownewyork.com or calling 212-929-2889.