Have you been abusing the weekend staple that is Sunday Brunch? If your motive for the meal includes using your stomach as a grease sponge, you’re doing it all wrong. No matter what kind of weekend you had, Sundays are crucial in that they jump start the rest of the week. A lazy Sunday doesn’t have to be induced by a food coma. You should be nourishing and rejuvenating your body. But it is still a day off and a day to indulge…so why not have both? The answer: Spring Street Natural.
Located just off the 6 train on the corner of Lafayette and Spring Street, this mostly vegetarian (with vegan and fish/poultry options) restaurant is the perfect spot to fuel up. The space – which includes a full bar and outdoor seating – is flooded with natural light and filled with lush greenery. Even when it’s packed the noise level is bearable and there’s hardly ever a wait. The staff is welcoming and seems genuinely concerned with your dining experience. The overall mood is casual yet sophisticated. There’s a crisp, clean feeling about the place, which makes sense considering the whole, organic, locally-sourced, and homemade ingredients that come out of the kitchen.
This Sunday my friend and I were seated at a charming corner table behind a cove of indoor plants, surrounded by floor to ceiling windows. We started with espressos and juice – I ordered the juice of the day: fresh pressed pineapple, strawberry, orange. At first I immediately regretted getting the small – it was, well, small. But as soon as I sipped it I started filling up and knew that too much would ruin the meal. It was sweet, thick, and pulpy, which was great because I was expecting a cold pressed juice, sans fiber, which I don’t like (too much sugar, not enough of anything else…).
But then we ran into trouble. Every single item on the menu sounded incredible. They were classic dishes but with a fresh twist; basically a list of all of our favorite meals prepared in a healthier way. The only solution was to narrow our options down and split everything. Even after I had made up my mind on the order I kept reading the menu, just to read, envisioning each dish and its cool, crunchy bite, its tangy flavor, and its wholesome goodness. We were ready to dig in.
We started with the vegetable spring rolls (a vegan dish). Golden and flaky, the 4 rolls were filled with napa cabbage, carrots, seasonal mushrooms, fresh cilantro, ginger and served atop a sweet chili-plum sauce. The mushrooms stood out the most and gave the rolls an almost meaty weight. The sauce had a subtle kick to it and just enough was plated so that every bite was dressed. The cabbage was raw, adding that Asian-inspired bitter crunch complimented by the sweet and sour sauce.
Our second course came out almost immediately after we’d finished, which was fine because the light frying of the rolls didn’t leave us feeling weighed down. We then split the house-made almond-veggie-cheddar burger and the smoked salmon sandwich. The burger tasted nothing like a veggie burger, but in a good way. The almonds gave it texture where many burgers turn to mush. It had an almost bread-like feel to it, and would have been on the drier side had the melted cheddar not perfectly encased it. With each bite I almost expected it to drip with juice as if it were beef, likely because I doused it in the Dijon mayonnaise, which I asked for more of barely halfway through the burger (it was addicting, but they also only provided a small carafe). It was served with sweet potato fries that could have been crispier, but this only meant more nutrients were intact and less time in the greasy fryer. The salmon sandwich, though served on a baguette, was thankfully very soft and moist. The combination of lemon creme fraiche and sun-dried tomato pesto created such flavor depth, and the arugula and scallions made it a solid bite. The best part of the dish – only because it came as a surprise – was the veggie chips. At first I saw a plate overflowing with chips and grew discouraged – not my idea of a clean, healthy lunch. When I realized they were zucchini but tasted like potato chips – again, without the grease – I knew I was done for. Completely full, I still made it to the Clean Plate Club.
After we paid the bill – only$25 each for apps, entrees, and drinks! – we almost thought the next move was to lay down, our normal brunch routine drilled in our minds. But the sun was shining and the SoHo shopping was calling, and we felt amazing – full, fresh, and ready to take on the day. It wasn’t my first time at Spring Street Natural and it certainly won’t be my last, but it was the only food stop I had to make all day.