There are many vegan joints opening up in the Village/LES and its geographic/demographic extension (Brooklyn) but this is not cause for vegans to rejoice, as many of the places are of mediocre quality at best (namely Champs, Pine Box Rock Shop and Maimonide). Clementine is, at least at its initial recent opening, one of the mediocre.
While the bakery is cute and the staff friendly, I found myself disappointed with the stuff I ordered.
The first tip-off is that none of the baked goods look good here. Everything in the cases looks limp, old and dry. I've never seen such a depressing spread of wilted baked goods.
Lesson one, Clementine: looks matter. Make your stuff look prettier, and make sure it doesn't sit out for more than a couple of hours, because looks fade fast.
The chocolate chip cookie (~$2) was a dud: dry, rock-hard and flavorless. It looked terrible sitting in the case, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. I shouldn't have. Is it so hard to make a tollhouse-style vegan chocolate chip cookie that is moist and golden? Sure, maybe the cookie I ate was old and had been sitting out for a few hours; but that just means you need to frequently bake new batches and toss out the old stuff.
I also had a lime cupcake (~$2.50) which was passable. The cake portion was moist and nice with a subtle lime flavor; the frosting, however, was oily and tasted like unsalted butter more than anything sweet.
Lastly, the orange-chocolate brownie (~$2) was passable as well. It was dry and the orange flavor didn't come out, nor did the chocolate. I'm not sure what it tasted like, to be honest, which is not a good thing.
I also had a cup of loose-leaf tea ($2); kudos to them for having loose-leaf offerings.
I couldn't help but get the feeling that Clementine is around just for the sake of being a vegan bakery in Brooklyn. It cashes in on a growing trend, maybe. But the products offered here are of low quality. I'm glad Clementine doesn't use the word "vegan" anywhere, because it would only further cement the false notion that vegan is synonymous with unappealing, especially in the realm of baked goods.
Clementine, go to Dun-Well Donuts and see how fresh and flavorful their donuts are, if you want nearby inspiration. Take a visit to Sweet Freedom in Philadelphia for some of the tastiest vegan (and gluten-free) desserts in the world. If you want a real education on how to do quality vegan baked goods, fly to Columbus, Ohio and check out Pattycake Bakery. That place blows Clementine out of the water and regularly makes the golden, soft, moist chocolate chip cookie of my dreams, among dozens of other cutting-edge goodies. Clementine just doesn't cut it. I hope they can improve, but I'm not holding out hope.