Every so often in the cooked food world, someone will create a dish with a price tag exorbitant enough to send ripples of shock and indignation through the food blogosphere: There’s the $26 burger, the $36 salad, and, most recently, a $39.95 sandwich whose sole ingredient is an elite variety of Spanish ham.
But in the raw food world, astronomic prices are as predictable as nut cheese and smug well-being. Be it $13 for a bag of six cookies or a $7 eight-ounce serving of juice, raw food is certainly priced for those in a very particular income bracket, and is no less elitist than that $40 pile of ham. This being New York, raw foodists have numerous sources that cater to their very specific needs, and two of the most well-known are One Lucky Duck and Organic Avenue. And so while absolutely no one at Fork in the Road has even a remote interest in embracing the raw food lifestyle, much less poking at it with a barge pole, we wondered which of these stores offered better food and value — “value,” of course, being an extremely relative concept in the raw food world. So we decided to pit their versions of lasagna against one another.
First up was One Lucky Duck’s lasagna. Priced at a soul-sucking $19, it layers zucchini and tomato slices with sun-dried tomato sauce, pistachio-basil pesto, and pumpkin seed-macadamia “ricotta.” It also comes with a single dainty basil leaf.
Bearing the approximate dimensions of the regular lasagna served in your average Italian restaurant (meaning fairly substantial), the lasagna had surprising weight and heft. Its vegetables were impeccably fresh and the pesto was vibrant, earthy, and tasted of good olive oil. The “ricotta” wasn’t remotely ricotta-like, but it tasted good, and the sun-dried tomato sauce was pleasantly sweet and tart.
Altogether, the concoction was less like lasagna than a pile of raw vegetables and pesto. That said, it was filling, and definitely one of the better piles of vegetables and pesto the city has to offer.
At $14, Organic Avenue’s version of lasagna appears to be a relative bargain. Until you pick it up and realize how much lighter it is than One Lucky Duck’s, and also that it covers about the same surface area as a MetroCard:
And perhaps even more unforgivably, its bottom layer is made up of shredded cabbage. Cabbage has no place anywhere in or near lasagna, raw or cooked, and its inclusion here further handicapped an already very compromised dish. While the whisper-thin slices of zucchini were relatively plentiful, there was one measly tomato slice, as well as a leaf or two of spinach. The sun-dried tomato sauce was similar to One Lucky Duck’s, and the basil pesto was decent, but the nut cheese was pasty and bland. The raw cabbage added nothing to the concoction but the taste of raw cabbage, and the whole thing was seemingly devoid of seasoning and had a weirdly sweet aftertaste.
So raw foodists and those with enough disposable income to be curious about the raw food lifestyle would do well to buy their ersatz lasagna from One Lucky Duck. Because at least their money will buy quality ingredients that are competently assembled. But really, it’s a pretty raw deal either way.
One Lucky Duck
125 East 17th Street
116 Suffolk Street