Is it possible to get excited about healthy, tasty and sustainable (for the environment) meals without being a vegetarian? It is now. Chef Daniel Anderer and CEO Adam Eskin have succeeded in bringing sustainable food, cooked with punchy and deep flavors at affordable prices. Austrian Chef Anderer, a former Iron Chef America victor, orders and cooks foods from (mostly) local and humane farms, such as Kochâ€™s, Saturâ€™s and Pineland Meats. What makes their food equally exciting is that it is also good for your wallet: a small plate costs 6.50, a large plate, $9.50. At those prices and with the chefâ€™s tastes, add sustainable ingredientsâ€”natural, daily and delicious food is yours for the eating.
Out of the five locations, I visited the one off Union Square. Its retro fifties dÃ©cor, peachy-cream wallpaper with printed flowers and animals, might have been the envy of many a â€˜50s suburban housewife. This retro style probably reflects some hipstersâ€™ ironic ethos. The food, however, is lite on irony and serious on taste, plus healthy living to boot. The chef lives by these words, â€œI take the butter from the cabbage and the sugar from the peas.â€ He offers three health conscious categories for you to choose from on the menu: one protein, one grain or green, three sides (for both sized portions). I tried three proteins on offer during a typically busy lunch rush at the Union Square â€œInnâ€: first, the brined, yes, brined (for moistness) turkey rose to the occasion with its quintessence of rosemary and cumin; the ever-so-tender and braised beef was cooked sauerbraten that massaged my taste buds with just a touch of tanginess (sauerbraten is a typical German and Austrian homey meal stewed in spices and vinegar, no cream nor butter); and the third protein I tasted was a spiced sweet tomato meatball that glutted my mouth with a deep and lingering smoky, spicy chipotle zing.
The starches were goodâ€”a lite tomatoey Spanish rice, not overcooked, and the roasted potato wedges tossed in a whole mustard seed vinaigrette were my favorites in the Grain/ Green category. In the sides category, twelve different vegetable ones on offer, my favorites were roasted Brussels sprouts, Indian spiced carrots, raw broccoli with quinoa, honey beans and escarole, and roasted beets with cocoaâ€”yes, cocoa.
The Brussels sprouts are roasted, which brings out the natural sweetness in this veggie. The Indian spiced carrots are cooked in a pressure cooker. This signals Chef Andererâ€™s haute cuisine experience. When cooking veggies with high sugar content, once the magic temperature of caramelization is reached in a pressure cooker, the veggies caramelize throughout verses just on the outside by the sautee methodâ€”so, Chef Daniel is not kidding about taking the sugar from the â€œpeasâ€ or by analogy the natural sweetness from what nature offers and, with the added Indian spices, his technique makes for not overly cooked yet sweet carrots. His range of taste and techniques can be glimpsed in his cocoa roasted beets that take you to an unknown flavor combination worth digging into.
And in keeping with being healthy minded, the number of calories for each dish is mentioned so that you can save room for one of Dig Innâ€™s naturally sweet Cocoa Joe shakes, whey protein optional.
Dig Inn has 5 locations throughout New York City. For more information and to find one closest to you, visitÂ www.diginn.com.