Ever since the first episode of Queer Eye launched this year, many have questioned the credibility of “food expert” Antoni Porowski, who usually creates meals that are almost too simple to be considered cooking and uses avocados in most all his recipes. Porowski has now brought his antics to New York,  recently opening up The Village Den, a healthier replacement for the burger diner previously occupying the West Village space. 

As an avid fan of Queer Eye, I found it necessary to visit The Village Den and try out some of their most popular menu items.

Sophie Park


The moment I walked into The Village Den, it looked spacious but it felt so cozy and homey at the same time. There is so much greenery, from the entrance to the main eating area. I love the fact that they have so many large windows, allowing lots of natural light to seep in and warm up the space. 

The interior design is spot on with a colorful, wall-covering art installation meant to represent the diversity of the West Village. The eatery has a generous amount of seating space for its trendy and health-conscious clientele. At this point, I'm already impressed. 

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The Food

Let me start by saying that I was expecting there to be avocados in everything on the menu (because, it's Antoni). To my surprise, however, The Den had a variety of food that caters to an array of diets and palates.

I decided to order the most popular items at the restaurant to get a real feel of what most people will be experiencing. Here's a breakdown: 

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Watermelon Spice (Smoothie)

I was a bit intimidated by the fact that this smoothie has ginger and mint in it because I thought it would taste like an overly-herby concoction, but I actually liked how refreshing it was! The first thing you taste is the watermelon but then you get a taste of each flavor. There are no flavors that are too overpowering and you get a nice combination of each. I was surprised that I enjoyed the herb hints as much as I did. Would get it again. 

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Den Mother (Salad)

This salad was beautiful when it came out. The gorgeous pink tones you can see are thanks to the the beet hummus and the pomegranates. Sublime.

I scraped the entire bottom of the bowl to get the last bits of hummus. The pomegranate adds a great texture to the salad and the turmeric cauliflower gives more flavor to it. I haven't seen a salad like this sold elsewhere in the city, so I'll be back for it.

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Most Real Spaghetti Squash, Mashed Peas with Mint, Roasted Purple Potatoes (Sides)

Personally, I am not the biggest fan of peas or spaghetti squash but The Den definitely did a nice play on some average side dishes. The spaghetti squash is a bit plain by itself, and I see why it’s a side because it balances out a lot of the different flavors in the dishes. I couldn’t get over the texture of the mashed peas by themselves and didn’t enjoy them as much as I would’ve liked to. The roasted purple potatoes are the best out of the three because they have a great crust, yet were cooked perfectly inside.

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Citrus Poached Salmon (Bowl)

The salmon in this bowl is cooked to perfection. It has the crispiest crust, but the fish is still flavorful and moist. The bowl has a great combination of vegetables, protein, and carbs, each bringing something unique to the table. Besides the salmon, the broccolini and the kale crisps were heavenly. This is definitely the most worth-it-for-the-price menu ($15). I can see myself eating this again because it comes with so much food and showcases so many of the offerings at The Village Den. 

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Macadamia Crusted Fish Sticks with Sweet Potato Wedges (TV Dinner)

This meal is a healthier alternative to the fish sticks that we all grew up eating. The fish sticks crumble in your mouth as you taste the tanginess of lemon. They are best with the great yogurt sauce, and the combination of creamy and tangy is excellent. However, I don’t find myself eating this again simply because the portion was a bit small for the price ($21), and there wasn’t enough texture for my taste.

The sweet potatoes wedges, on the other hand, are heavenly: almost crispy on the outside but melt in your mouth when you bit into them. The sweet potatoes are the best part of the meal; I would get them just by themselves again.

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Vegan Crunchy and Creamy (Bowl)

For all my vegans out there, this one's for you. There is an entire sweet potato in this bowl, which is bound to make you full along with an abundance of vegetables, like the turmeric cauliflower, lentils, and more. You get a variety of textures from the rice puffs that are sprinkled on top and the smooth and creamy harissa sauce that adds extra spice as well. I would definitely bring a vegan friend to this place to try this bowl.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I see myself coming back here to get either the Den Mother or the Citrus Poached Salmon, alongside a side of those sweet potatoes. Although The Village Den is supposed to be a fast-casual spot, their food is of the same quality and their ingredients on par with any sit-down restaurant. I hope as they expand in the next few months, there are more avocados added to the menu and we can see Antoni actually cooking (possibly shirtless) at The Village Den.