Tucked away on 48th Street among Broadway shows and throngs of tourists, P.S. Kitchen has been serving up innovative vegan cuisine in a refreshing, modern setting since 2017. The mission of the restaurant does not stop at supporting and encouraging vegan alternatives, as they also donate all of their profits to sustainable charities. Members of the Manhattan Sideways team sat down with one of the owners involved in the restaurant during the summer of 2019, to talk about the unique goals of P.S. Kitchen and to sample some of their refreshing takes on vegan fare.
“It’s hard for people to change, so they need to really eat differently or be shown that there’s different food you can eat in order to try to change… that led me to wanting to do this kind of work,” Jeff shared with us, adding that he has been vegan for about twenty years. He recalled that, growing up in New Jersey, there were only one or two vegan restaurants around. “It was a weirdo diet. People thought it was strange. The big thing I’ve seen change in those twenty-two years is that people have gone from thinking that veganism is not healthy to realizing that it’s the opposite.”
We quickly found evidence of this realization through a taste of P.S. Kitchen’s menu. A vegan caesar salad was rich and flavorful, an avocado and potato soup was delightfully creamy, and a pea protein burger tasted so close to the real thing that we found ourselves dissecting it in disbelief.
Although Jeff's passion for veganism is clear, P.S, Kitchen’s aim goes beyond the impact of a plant-based lifestyle. Notably, a portion of the restaurant’s staff comes from backgrounds of adversity. “We work with a couple of different partner programs that are also the charities we donate to.” Jeff went on to explain that depending on the month, 10-20% of P.S. Kitchen’s staff is sourced through these organizations, which provide job training and placement to individuals who would otherwise encounter obstacles in the job search. “We have partnered with Defy - which works with previously incarcerated individuals [and] helps them with job placement - and, we work with Restore, which does something similar - they work with previous sex traffic individuals and victims of domestic violence.”
There is no doubt that PS Kitchen is having an impressive community impact, and, how fortunate that many theater goers are discovering them on a daily basis - they are located only a few steps from both the Walter Kerr and the Longacre Theatre.
Initially serving as a resting stop for Scandinavian sailors when they disembarked in lower Manhattan, the Swedish Seaman's Church opened its doors on Water Street in 1873. The neo-Gothic building in which the Church currently resides was constructed in 1921 for "The Bible House" before being sold to the Church of Sweden in 1978. The Church's nautical past is evidenced in the model boats placed among the large collection of Swedish books. With a chapel, a library, and a coffee shop, the Church's doors are always open to Swedes. While tasting their delicious Swedish buns, I chatted with the staff who spoke enthusiastically about the function that the center plays in people's lives. For families, it provides a "wind" of Sweden whenever they miss their homeland. There are also multiple weddings conducted in the chapel each week, and people come from all over to celebrate holidays and shop at their Christmas Bazaar.
Clinton Garden is a striking testament to the power of residential communities in New York. One of the earliest examples of urban agricultural reclamation, the garden was created in 1979 in a lot that had been abandoned for twenty-eight years. Seeing potential in the space and hoping to improve the area around the neighborhood, residents (with the help of Operation Green Thumb, which leased the lot from the city) transformed the VACANT property into a garden using reclaimed and salvaged bricks, concrete, and slate. Finding the gates open on a beautiful spring Saturday, I wandered in and strolled down the paths filled with magnificent flowers and shrubs. I also met committed people tending to their small plots of land, of which there are now over one hundred. I have since been back many times, as I think this is a magnificent retreat on those days that I am in a need of a place to rest while walking the side streets of Manhattan.
Tucked between a Swiss and an Italian restaurant, Scent Elate brings Eastern spirituality to the neighborhood. With the doors swung open, the aromas were an enticing trail that led me into this tiny boutique packed with an array of incense, candles, soaps, oils and lotions. Scent Elate also has books on meditation and yoga scattered among crystals, jewelry, chimes and hanging ornaments. In fact, it might just be "the" place to go when searching for sticks of incense - not only is there a vast selection, but Mo, the owner, makes a special effort to find the perfect scent to enhance each individual customer's environment.
Named after Bible verses in Isaiah (the wolf and the lamb shall feed together), this restaurant opened in Manhattan in 1998, and expanded to Brooklyn the following year. Initially a traditional kosher deli, it later reinvented itself as a steakhouse. The extensive menu ranges from matzo ball soup to salmon burgers, veal Bolognese gnocchi and, of course, includes a variety of steaks and chops. Drawing on influences as diverse as Vietnamese, Tex-Mex, and French-country, Wolf and Lamb adapts its more customary function to a cosmopolitan venue. "Just because you're keeping kosher doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on quality, " shared a waitress. And while we were told that the majority of customers keep kosher regularly, the crowded space was testament to Wolf and Lamb's broad culinary appeal.