The Purple Elephant In The Room
Through the brown curtains and past the hanging beaded string with its tiny elephant adornments, customers will find a counter and kitchen filled with both vegan and omnivore-friendly cuisine. Here at Northport’s Purple Elephant Market Café, in its third season, every menu item is free of GMOs, antibiotics and hormones.
First come the drinks. There’s the selection of organic, sustainable, biodynamic wines, or the $10 mixed drinks. And then there are the Coco Cream Dream, a simple but seemingly serendipitous union of Coconut TY-KU Sake and Boylan’s All-Natural Cream Soda; the Bloody Geisha, a concoction of tomato juice, wasabi, soy sauce, lime juice and sake, garnished with a celery stick and a lime; and the Warm Apple Pie, a Mason jar filled with fresh hot apple cider, cranberry juice and hot sake.
The menu is extensive. Patrons sitting in cushy brown leather-ish booths or smaller tables along a purple wall order dishes marked with (V) for vegan, (VG) for vegetarian or (GF) for gluten free.
Kale and market vegetables under an apple cider vinaigrette and garnished with hemp seeds, the vegan and gluten-free Kale Case Salad ($8/10) tastes better than it sounds. The Vegan Mac Attack ($17) is incredible and confusing to the non-vegan, who is probably not entirely sure what the non-cheese is made of but will accept it because it tastes so good. The vegan mac n’ cheese is combined with grain sausage and black truffle oil, drizzled with sriracha sauce and topped with roasted jalapeno.
The Vegan “Burnt Ends” Quesadilla ($16) is sweet and savory, made with “chicken” and vegan cheese, served with avocado and pico de gallo.
For meat eaters, among the many options are the chili and meatballs, each made with grass-fed beef. The chili has a spicy kick to it, but it is not overwhelming. Its meat component is balanced by brown rice and scallions.
The meatballs ($10) are served with one of four sauces – classic Italian, wild mushroom ragout, spicy Guajillo chile, or pesto sauce – and over a bed of mashed potatoes, organic linguini, vegan mac n’ cheese, salad, or broccoli. (There’s a $3 sharing charge.)
The family-run establishment is run by David Intonato and his wife, Erin. Their daughter, Yvonne, works there as well.
“My idea always was just to give people clean, whole food and still have it taste good,” David Intonato said.
Having trained as a chef for about 20 years, he decided to use his knowledge of cooking and the food industry to create well-rounded options for Long Islanders. Intonato himself made a life change six years ago. Weighing in at 200 pounds, he learned from his wife’s vegan lifestyle and started doing yoga and eating a vegetarian diet. Three years ago, he went vegan.
The Bob Marley enthusiast has now lost weight, started feeling healthier and created a restaurant and market with what he hopes is a “loose and fun” atmosphere and “good clean, good food with a light vibe.”
With an ever-changing menu and a set of regular customers who recognize frequent modifications to decor, it definitely seems like he’s achieved that.