Oats & Ivy
Oats & Ivy is no longer just a bike delivery service for organic lunches - it's evolved into a full-fledged storefront in Liberty Village . The restaurant opened a week ago in the complex at 171 East Liberty (inside the former home of Market Bistro) , seeking to capitalize on a glut of active, health-conscious residents.
Judging by the early repeat visits, the lunch rush that lasts well into the afternoon, and the number of folks just popping their heads in to welcome them to the area, the strategy might already be paying off.
Their new home is a major step up from doing cycle deliveries in the Financial District, where the cart would park and dole out lunches to the office crowd. Now that they've gone bricks and mortar, co-founder Marina Cortese is just happy they can offer more than one lunch option per day.
"Most of our lunch menu and our juices originated at the bike cart - and our nut milks, but we had to rotate through because it was so small. Now we can do everything full-scale." They can also mix up smoothies, ladle out soups, and even grow their own sprouts and herb garnishes in a laboratorial contraption known as the Urban Cultivator.
Vegan? Gluten-free? Paleo? No sweat, Cortese says: "I didn't want to fall into one specific diet, but offer something that can be customizable for everyone." To suit your own preferences, you can omit ingredients in the lunch bowls, sub in vegan dressings, or add roasted chicken or flaky OceanWise trout for an extra hit of protein.
One of six options on their entree menu, the asian noodle bowl ($10.35, plus $5 for trout), comes built on nutty whole-grain kamut pasta.
Your average lunch bowl might contain a bunch of raw veg and dressing, but the kitchen's eye for detail ensures a great mix of textures and flavours: Lime-pickled cucumber, just-steamed broccoli, raw bok choy, cashews tossed in a sweet curry-coconut mix.
Other possibilities include a Thai slaw, built on brown rice vermicelli with a smorgasbord of greens and a housemade dressing, and a horiatiki-like Mediterranean quinoa salad loaded with peppers, olives and feta.
Soups like chicken and kale with wild rice, organic turkey chili (complete with raw cheddar) and moroccan lentil ($6.25-$7.95) can come accompanied by fresh cornbread ($3.45) and a little housemade grass-fed whipped honey butter.
If you're short on time, they do have some pre-made, grab-and-go lunches. I've never been wild about chilled rice paper rolls, but that was before I met their chicken, avocado and kale rolls ($13.10), which come flanked by a side of ultra-creamy satay sauce (made with almond butter - there are no peanuts anywhere in the shop).
Unlike many of the juice bars emerging in the city, Oats & Ivy makes theirs on-site (in a massive hydraulic cold press visible from the front of the shop). All of their ingredients are organic - even an organic raw vanilla extract for the nut milks.
They mixed up their juice menu with a focus on unusual combinations, including beet with plum and cabbage; other favourites include the Ruby Soho, a watermelon-based blend tempered with lime and basil ($7.95 small, $12.45 large), and a super-smooth chai-spiced almond milk ($7.35 small, $12.25 large).
The lineup of housemade sweet treats includes brownies and raw bites. One of their cocoa maca bites ($2.25), rolled up from cacao, dates, raw honey and cashew butter, ought to quash any mid-afternoon chocolate cravings pretty quickly. (Wait around for the slight burn from a pinch of cayenne pepper at the end.)
If you loved the old Oats & Ivy bike cart, don't fret - Cortese says they plan to keep serving their meals on wheels, using the cart to dish out samples in the area to drum up business. At least now you won't have to worry about them selling out of that day's lunches - probably.
Photos by Jesse Milns.