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Moosewood Restaurant

  • Veg-friendly Veg-friendly
    ( 23 reviews )
Contact 607-273-9610

215 N Cayuga St (at Seneca St), Ithaca, New York, USA, 14850

Serves meat, vegan options available. All veg except for fish. Sunday nights are ethnic cuisine nights. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-3:00pm, Mon-Sun 5:30pm-8:30pm.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Ovo, American, International, Beer/Wine, Take-out, Non-veg

Reviews (23)

First Review by amysaundersbigelow

Being Smart at Moosewood - Edit

As a local, I have been to Moosewood a fair number of times, and as the other reviews indicate, it can be fairly hit or miss. However, if you follow a few guidelines, you will probably have a good experience. First, I would avoid any dishes centered around sauteed vegetables, even if the menu tries to make it sound interesting by making it ethnic (ie African Curry, Sauteed vegetables with French words in the description); these dishes tend to be very bland. Other dishes that include baked items (ie falafel platter, quesadilla without cheese) are usually quite good - the salads are also very good, and the vegan chocolate cake is absolutely amazing. Keep in mind that the portions tend to be quite small, so you may be better off ordering a few courses (ie. a soup or salad, a main dish, and a dessert).

Pros: Chocolate cake is amazing

Cons: Limited vegan options, Hit or miss

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Glad I went - Edit

I knew there were lukewarm reviews for the restaurant but since it was Moosewood, we went ignoring them. I assumed it wouldn't be busy, but it was packed and shortly after we arrived on a Sunday evening, they said they wouldn't accept any more people without reservations.

We ended up getting the 2 vegan bean dishes. I never see bean centric meals and enjoyed our choices (Brazilian feijioda and the Basque white bean special). The white beans definitely looked like something I could have made at home (the dish seemed similar to the Basque skillet chickpea dish from their cookbook, with additional veggies added). The black bean feijioda was more complex with a few different components. It still reminded us of a home cooked meal and we were fine with it. The only disappointment was that there was a limited menu for vegans. For dessert, the vegan chocolate cake was dark and delicious.

Pros: Home cooked vibe

Cons: Limited vegan options

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Love this place - Edit

I recently ate here with 3 non vegetarians while on vacation. We all loved our food. So many wonderful choices for both vegans and vegetarians! There are some seafood options available. The restaurant itself is warm and friend with a large window and lots of wood and a big bar. I had the tempeh tacos and the soup of the day and we ended with a delicious berry crumble.
Service was friendly and efficient. I wish I lived closer.
Since many buddhist who eat fish consider themselves vegetarian, it's not fair that Happy Cow won't let me give this place 5 stars.

Pros: Excellent food, Friendly service, Clean and comfortable atmosphere

Cons: Not near where I live, Smaller restaurant

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Promised so much ... - Edit

Went based on its reputation, left very disappointed. It's not even a veggie restaurant, vegan choices were really limited, veggie choices not so great. Main dishes were dull, uninteresting and over priced. Service was poor, maybe it used to be good. Now it's one of the worst places we ate in the USA. Skip it and look elsewhere.

Cons: Food, Service

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Moosewood in Ithaca, NY - Edit

We had always wanted to visit Ithaca and make the "pilgrimage" to Moosewood, but had heard that it was no longer the place it once was. Well, we went anyway and we were happy we did. The menu was full of great choices and the food was delicious. The place was very busy, but everyone seemed to have time to answer questions about the menu, the area, directions, etc. Loved that so many of the staff were 50+, as were many of the diners. We'd definitely make a return visit.

Pros: great location, busy, friendly ambience, great menu for vegetarians

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Go for lunch, skip it for dinner - Edit

This is a good lunch place, nice salads, vegan options, casual atmosphere. Dinner is overpriced, and for some reason always disappointing.

Pros: Comfortable, casual atmosphere, Vegan optioins

Cons: Expensive for dinner

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A Very Special Place - Edit

After seeing their cookbooks for years, visiting Moosewood Restaurant felt like a pilgrimage. It was very busy, but we were seating way before the time we were cited.

There were two vegan specials the night we went, a chickpea soup, which my boyfriend had, and a lasagna, which I had. Both were excellent, as were the salads and side of tofu.

The food is comforting without being heavy. I highly recommend a visit.

Pros: Delicious dishes, Small, intimate menu, Vegan options

Cons: Serves fish, which is confusing

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not impressed - Edit

I had the same experience described before. Only one vegan entree - the curry-, not impressive, but came with a tasty lentil soup. The cocktail and alcohol list is pretty impressive and the place is nice and cozy, but it leaves much to be desired. Good service experience.

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A little disappointed - Edit

Moosewood was recommended to me when I went to New York on vacation. I was warned that they served fish. After a 10 hour drive, we hit up Moosewood. I was excited because I had received one of their cookbooks as a gift and was familiar with them.

The restaurant wasn't what I imagined. It was very gimmicky. There were shelves with cookbooks, mugs and sweatshirts for sale with the Moosewood logo on them.

It was very busy the night we went but it didn't take us too long to get a seat. It was either an owner or manager who lead us to our seats.

I was a bit disappointed by the menu. Only one item could be veganized (a lentil curry dish).

While we were looking over the menu, the owner/manager seated a well-dressed woman besides us. The owner/manager was incredibly friendly with this woman and took the time to explain their menu and the alcohol choices to her. The boyfriend and did not experience that and I wondered if it was because we were young or how we were dressed.

Our meal was good and we ended it with a slice of vegan chocolate cake. I was disappointed to spend that much on food and have there be only one vegan option.

Pros: good food

Cons: lack of friendly service, expensive, few vegan options

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A Disappointment - Edit

As said in the other reviews, there are only a few very unimaginative vegan options to choose from and nothing that even the most novice chef couldn't make at home. For a place with such a rich history of pioneering vegetarian food I expected more.

The night I went they had one veggie curry dish that could be made vegan. Since this was the only vegan entree of the night I had no choice. It tasted like something I could whip up with $5 of ingredients.

Here's to hoping they can step up their game.

Cons: bland food, high price

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Simple food, nice atmosphere. - Edit

The first time I went to Moosewood was 1984. I had 3 of their cookbooks. I was looking forward to an updated menu. We had the coconut croquettes which were tasty and not greasy. Definitely needed the chutney. The Black Bean Ful was okay with cuke slices, tomato and pita. The Samosas were good and filling, but not worth the price. The tomato barley soup was really good. The guacamole was not tasty at all and total mush.

Few vegan options for such a famous restaurant. The fare was not much more than you could make at home, but uses lots of local ingredients. Didn't get to try the beer. Perhaps next time.

Nice atmosphere for lunch or dinner with friends. Very good service. Longer drink list than food menu. Not sure it's worth the price if that is an issue. However, they do strive to cater to many diet needs and disciplines.

Pros: Service, Atmosphere, Special diets

Cons: Pricey, Not inventive

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Very vegan suitable - Edit

I found sufficient choices for a vegan. Of the 4 entrees, 2 could be made vegan, one was only lacto vegetarian, and the last fish. Both appetizers could be made vegan. So I had sufficient options to choose from. We had a Stewed Batilgian and Vegetable Feijoada. Both were delicious. The Egyptian red lentil soup was also very good. Our dessert was a very tasty vegan cranberry-blueberry crumble. The ambiance was relaxed and friendly. We were seated near the bar, but the clientele there were not intrusive and did not detract from our dining experience. Moosewood is still a very worthwhile restaurant to dine in.

Pros: vegan choices, excellent food, pleasant ambiance

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go around the block to Greenstar - Edit

The three reviews previous to mine are correct. This place is stuck in the 1970's. It's only barely vegetarian insofar as it serves fish, but I've eaten at many dead meat restaurants that offered more vegan options than here. Look at the menu: 1 page of entrees, 1 page of salads and sandwiches and sides, and 5 pages of booze! Among the sides, top of the list is Bread and Butter. The word BUTTER is given as much prominence as the word BREAD! No alternatives to butter, not oil, not avocado, not tahini, only butter. Of the two vegan entrees of the day, neither was no more imaginative nor better tasting than what you probably prepare at home. Unless you intend to get plastered, spare yourself the disappointment and stay home. Or walk around the block from Moosewoods to Greenstar Natural Foods Coop. You don't even need to walk around the block, as both Greenstar and Moosewoods are accessible from and connected to the same indoor mini-mall.

Pros: iconic

Cons: not vegetarian, not vegan, not imaginative

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Crappy vegan options - Edit

For a vegetarian restaurant I was really disappointed with the variety and quality of Moosewood's vegan options. Their cocktails and dessert were good, but everything else sucked.

Pros: Good cocktails, Good desserts

Cons: Hardly any vegan options, Not very good food

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VERY vegetarian (+fish!) - Edit

I am vegan, and I find Moosewoods to be one of the most disappointing vegan options within Ithaca. Most of the food could easily be cooked at home and is not very imaginative. The restaurant relies heavily on dairy as a crutch for its dishes, and even has a fish dish! As a vegan the options are as limited as at any other restaurant to be honest. Highly disappointed.

Pros: Local ingredients

Cons: Dairy heavy, Unoriginal

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Moose Bar - Edit

20 years ago I got a job at a juice bar. I was not vegetarian, not a cook. Moosewood cookbook really helped me and slowly I made the joyful changes to veg life...but that's another story. Now here it is my first chance in Ithaca and naturally I want to go to Moosewood Restaurant. I read reviews about this place being all hype so my husband and I tried to manage our expectations. The one vegan entree sounded bizarre-pecan loaf with barbecue sauce so we opted for soup and salad. Before I get to the unimaginative salad, let me just say that I was very surprised to see a bar in this "vegetarian/healthy" restaurant but ok whatever. The real beef I have is the 4 pages of liquor in the menu plus an insert of drinks plus a cocktail special on our table! This was a real turn off, I'm not talking beer and wine but all the hard stuff too. Why? Do people in Ithaca like to order tofu and get hammered? I felt like I was in Applebees or TGI Fridays. Now back to the salad-lettuce, carrots, cucumber, tomato, olive. Thats it folks. I thought perhaps being vegetarian they'd include a bit more variety a bit more wow but instead I felt like when I am forced to eat at an Italian restaurant when my dad is in town because it was that same uninspired salad with all the usual,predictable veggies. The tahini/miso dressing was very good and to be fair it was all very fresh but unsatisfying. The soup was potato/arugula and it was just ok. The service went like this: as soon as the waitress saw we weren't ordering drinks she decided we were not important enough to pay attention too. Our salad came first, 20 minutes later the soup #usually its the other way around but she didn't even ask us!# We ordered a dessert of berry crumble-it was tasty but again not worth the hype. So fellow veggie lovers here's my advice: if you want to get snockered and eat psuedo veg food go to Moosewood-pick up a t-shirt & book you'll think your at a tourist attraction OR if you want to go to a vegetarian/vegan wonderland go to the Green Star Market, a huge CO OP with a great salad bar, breakfast bar, lots of vegan options and friendly staff members. They have a modest sitting area but you wont mind. My husband overheard a staff member talking to a customer at the salad bar saying, "you eat here every day dont you" the guy said, "yea, what else would I do-go to moosewood"

Pros: outside sitting, lots of cookbooks

Cons: too much liquor, too much hype, too little veganism

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Nice atmosphere, but needs larger menu - Edit

After much anticipation, I was a little surprised that the lunch menu was quite limited. We broke out of our vegan diet and had the most delicious tomato soup. And the lemon tahini salad dressing was great. The bread was great. Our main courses were very average and not worth mentioning. They do have an extensive bar and wine list so if we drank alcohol I suppose that would have been nice. The atmosphere was wonderful. And the serving staff was great.

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Destination Restaurant - Edit

There are destination restaurants (ones you go to for the experience), and there are neighbourhood restaurants (ones you go to because they happen to be in your neighbourhood. Moosewood is a destination restaurant. I would almost suggest making a trip to Ithaca just to eat at this wonderful restaurant. The ambience itself is quite casual and down to earth. It is the food and the service that are excellent. The menu changes daily, and the day we dined there, EVERY item on the menu except one, was vegetarian! We tried 2 appetizers and 2 main dishes, and they were all excellent. They have a very creative beverage list as well. Dont miss the fresh fruit sangria. Go to Ithaca just for Moosewood!

Pros: Taste, Service, Quality

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