“I have a lifelong interest in diplomacy and good food,” said Shashanka Karlen at the cafe’s opening reception on July 18. “I want to create an oasis of peaceful dining and show that vegetarian and vegan food can be delicious as well as good for people and the planet.” Karlen took over the remaining 3-year lease of the park’s cafe concession from Hospitality Holdings after being vetted by NYC Parks & Recreation. He has owned two restaurants in Queens and is eager to apply his culinary experience to the cafe that serves Turtle Bay residents and workers, including the UN community.
Blue awnings and white furniture evoke a tranquil mood. Tropical plants in colorful pots adorn tables hand-crafted from repurposed wood and metal, making a seamless transition to the park’s garden and fountains.
The menu includes poke bowls with grilled vegetables, fruits and grains dressed with mango lime and peanut sauces. Salad lovers can choose from Avocado Goat Cheese, Green Goddess, and Kale Power. For those who crave meat, try the soy-based Bliss Burger, Spare Ribs or Fried Chicken accompanied by fries, both traditional and sweet potato. Coffee drinks abound with Macchiato to beat the heat. Cold drinks include Ginger Mint Cooler and Mango Lassi of yogurt, sour cream, and cardimon. Yum! Chill out with soft serve ice cream, vegan or dailry.
During the start-up phase, the cafe will be open 11 am to 6 PM Monday to Saturday, and closed Sunday. Evening hours featuring music and cultural events will be announced.
“The cafe is integral to the park experience, and we welcome the new concession,” said Sherrill Kazan, president of Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. The Sing for Hope Piano in the cafe area for a two-week stint adds to the summer fun.”