Photo by Rebecca Firkser

His food is at “the corner of vegan and paleo”

Rebecca Firkser
October 22, 2018

Antoni Porowski is many things. A TV chef with a penchant for avocado. A wearer of a well-tied neckerchief. An owner of an incredibly charming grin. Porowski recently added “restaurant owner” to this resume by taking over the New York City diner Village Den and reopening it this month as a fast-casual all-day cafe with partners Lisle Richards and Eric Marx.

Many have criticized the Queer Eye star’s culinary decisions on TV—need I remind you about the Greek yogurt in guacamole fiasco? But considering my hypothesis that Porowski is just really into breakfast food, I was naturally quite curious about what the Village Den would serve in the morning.

When I visited the Village Den, I chatted with Richards for a bit. He explained that the team’s goal was to create classic, tasty food without excess sugar and fat. He also said that as someone who often works out with friends and then goes out for a meal after, they often found it challenging to find a restaurant that could cater to everyone’s dietary plans. The Village Den team wants groups of friends to feel confident that regardless of special diets, there will be something for everyone to eat—and it won’t just be a side of avocado.

Photo by Rebecca Firkser

Breakfast service at the Village Den, which begins today, is unsurprisingly packed with nutritious diet-friendly options (the sign on the street outside the entrance does say “at the corner of vegan and paleo”).

The breakfast menu covers a lot of ground: a baked Chicken and Apple Scotch Egg, Oven-Baked Frittata, Greenwich Breakfast Bowl, Almond and Walnut Pancakes, and an Avocado Tartine. There’s also a full smoothie menu, with three sections—Berry, Green, and Almond and PB—and 12 options.

Photo by Rebecca Firkser

Though he sadly wasn’t at the restaurant during my visit, I ordered what took to be the most “Antoni-ish” breakfast: the Avocado Tartine, which was two slices of multigrain toast topped with mashed avocado, sliced radish, crumbled hard-boiled egg, and pickled beets; the Greenwich Breakfast Bowl, two poached eggs, sweet potato hash browns, tomato, pickled shallots, and half a grilled avocado over spinach; and the Big Porowski Smoothie, a blend of Greek yogurt, banana, dates, and lime zest.

The food was well-seasoned, filling, and colorful. The atmosphere is bright and Instagram-friendly—comparable to other fast-casual restaurants in Manhattan like Inday, By Chloe, or the recently opened Dez. These types of places are quick and healthy, but they're a cut above other fast-casual shops like Sweetgreen or Dig Inn, likely because there are fewer locations and they’re often led by chefs. And if these niche fast-casual spots all serve food as good as the options at the Village Den, I have no doubt we’ll only see more of them in the future.

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