At NYC's New Restaurant The Wesley Fine Dining And Nature Collide

For several years now, vegetable-forward restaurants have been at the cutting edge of the American dining scene, and New York's new West Village restaurant The Wesley shows there is no sign of a slowdown. The Wesley's "produce-driven" menu joins a growing scene of eateries where fresh, plant-based meals take the focus over meat, without entirely removing animal proteins from the equation. These places flip the script on the traditional American dining expectations of a meat main course with vegetable sides, with Farmer Jones Farm noting that "vegetable-forward," is a pretty inclusive idea that simply puts veggies center stage on your plate without other restrictive caveats.

While it could have been dismissed as a trend, and was tough to sell when the concept first appeared, plant-forward dining has had real staying power. As Eater reports, old concerns about vegetarian or plant-based foods being bland and overly healthy are slowly being worked out of diners' minds, as chefs focus on big flavors and Americans become more conscious of meat's environmental impact. The Wesley is continuing this new tradition and is set to deliver comforting vegetable-based dishes as part of a true fine dining experience.

The Wesley is a plant-forward restaurant from chef Santiago Astudillo

According to a press release sent to Tasting Table, The Wesley is being helmed by veteran chef Santiago Astudillo, whose career has taken him through New York kitchens Daniel and the famous Le Bernardin, which now features its own vegetarian tasting menu. Santiago's seasonal, locally-sourced menu will feature entrées like artichoke pasta with saffron, cashew cream and toasted garlic, roasted stuffed honeynut squash with black lentils, quinoa, scallion aioli and a chili chimichurri, as well as several meat-based dishes like Amish chicken and whole trout. Each of these can be enjoyed in a minimalist 60-seat space with ecologically inspired designs, including a 7-foot live plant wall and a "wheat field," dining room.

The Wesley will have a uniquely sustainable and healthy drinks menu including vegetable juices, tea, and other gut-healthy ingredients. The cocktail list will include several zero-alcohol options like the Hoochinoo, with pineapple, lime, ginger, chili and club soda, and the wine list by Gabriel Maldonado will lean heavily toward vegan and organic/biodynamic bottles. The entire beverage program also has a strong emphasis on female producers. All of it should add up to a memorable experience that will be part of the continuing proof that plant-forward dining is sticking around for good.