Pop-Up Restaurant Pangea, From The Culinary Institute Of America, Won't Last Forever

Pangea offers a global-inspired, vegetable-centric menu—there's still meat, don't worry—but don't wait to make your reservations.



Photos by Phil Mansfield

Clean, bright flavors infuse most every dish at pop-up restaurant Pangea at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY, an hour and twenty minute drive from White Plains. This isn’t an official review (the dining experience was a single visit and, more significantly, not anonymous), but I suspect that diners will find it’s a worthwhile and original dining excursion. 

The concept behind the menu is to make vegetables and legumes the centerpiece of most plates, while meat is either absent or relegated to side-dish status. To celebrate the world’s interconnected foodways, the menu also brings together diverse cultural flavors and influences in dishes such as steamed mussels in a retsina broth (Greek white wine aromatized with pine resin) and fregola and Swiss chard, and flatbread with three spreads—eggplant chutney, red beet hummus, and edamame salsa.

Mussels steamed in retsina broth

“Pangea restaurant exposes our students to some of the leading trends in the restaurant world,” says Waldy Malouf, senior director of food and beverage operations at CIA. “It is a plant- and grain-focused cuisine that emphasizes the flavors and culinary possibilities of cooking with less animal proteins and more vegetal elements. This allows us to develop new delicious dishes that also have a positive nutritional value.”

The students are also introduced to the concept of a pop-up restaurant: a limited-run restaurant often set up with a limited budget and sometimes in an unusual or underutilized space—Pangea is in a former meeting room, for example.

Pangea's design aesthetic, matched with the conscious dining theme, incorporates reused and recycled elements including 'found' objects, artifacts, furnishings, china, and glassware.

Chef-Instructor Martin Matysik may tweak the menu going forward, a dish or two substituted, but more than likely you’ll have the soul-warming winter vegetable broth with crisp vegetables and croutons, curry oil, seaweed, and basil to start, the delectable Asian steamed buns with soy-ginger seitan (or soy-ginger cured pork cheek) and Brussels sprout kimchi somewhere in the middle, and finish with an inspired carrot sorbet with tropical fruit foam and brown sugar crumble that will make you forget about molten chocolate cake and crème brûlée.

Counterclockwise, from top: Winter vegetable broth with an assortment of veggies will likely start you off; Pomegranate chili Noijito with lime, mint leaves, ginger habanero syrup, and seltzer; Tropical fruit carrot sorbet

Pangea is also economical. There are two five-course menus to choose; the vegetarian focuses on vegetables and legumes for its protein, and the other contains meat and seafood as protein components. During each course, one dish is served family-style in its cooking vessel, and another dish is individually plated for each guest. In the end, dinner patrons have five courses—a total of 10 dishes including the family-style shareable plates—for $36 (tax and service charge included)! Lunch, which begins February 17, includes four courses—a total of 8 dishes—for $24 (again, tax and service charge included).

Counterclockwise, from top: Even the humble breadstick is made interesting at Pangea: asian steamed buns with cured pork are one of the meat-centric menu items; if you can find pine-needle fries anywhere else, we'd like to know 

There’s a food consciousness subtext to Pangea’s vegetable-centered menu, and the lesson the CIA wants its students to learn. According to Maitre d'Instructor John Storm, more focus should be placed on the food we eat and how it’s produced and harvested (for example, meat production requires more resources—land, water, energy—than veggie production) and the long-term effects on our collective health and the health of the planet.

So whether you go to have and good meal and support a progressive-minded endeavor, or just go for a good meal, you should go.

Go!

And remember, Pangea is only around through June, so make those reservations sooner rather than later.

 

 

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