I’ve always imagined the invention of cuisine following the invention of fire in close succession. A caveman experimenting with sticks creates the first blaze, unto which his wife immediately throws a chunk of boar and voila — a culinary trajectory you can trace right to pot roast! But Ahimsa, New Haven’s new raw-food vegetarian restaurant, seemed like an interesting detour, and, open-minded, New-Age vegetarian that I am, it appeared to be a welcome reprieve from the carnivorous world of Yale Dining Services. However, veggie friendly is not necessarily hunger abating, and as Ahimsa proves, hippy food politics can only go so far in terms of flavor.

Ahimsa is located in a large ground floor space on the corner of Chapel and Howe streets. With sexy candle lighting and silk scarves partitioning the tables, Ahimsa seems the perfect date setting for an enlightened hipster love affair. That is, before they turn up New Age music, which cuts through the eerie meditative ambiance of the restaurant with startling gusto of the mating cry of a rare Appalachian pygmy tribe. Luckily the menu is reassuring — the front page contains a long mission statement. “Every bite {of food} you take should be adding to your perfection, to your beauty,” it reads. Well that sounds good. Or does it?

The menu contains an extensive non-alcoholic drink list consisting of various organic teas ($4-5) and mocktails — the owner’s holistic beverage concoctions such as a cucumber cooler ($6) or pomegranate spritzer ($6). The coconut water ($3) is actually chilled coconut milk and is sweet and refreshing, albeit an odd accompaniment to a meal.

The food is divided into three courses — an appetizer tapas list, a set of main courses (consisting of raw veggie remakes of Italian dishes) and desserts. The appetizers range from the normal selections of pot stickers ($10) and spring rolls ($9), to the more adventurous. Dosa, a raw flax meal crepe stuffed with portabello mushrooms is $11, while a raw reworking of the samosa with jicama, a type of root vegetable, and sweet pea stuffing will run you $13. The plantain chips are beautifully presented on a bed of Spanish rice with homemade guacamole and cardamom-laced salsa, and for $9 they are deliciously reminiscent of the Roomba’s Latin-American fusion vibe.

The main courses are somewhat less thrilling. The menu offers a choice of basic pastas (pesto, alioli, tomato and mushroom) for $14-15 or the more elaborate (read: expensive) main courses. However, these pricey options are less then filling. An order of beet ravioli isn’t so much ravioli as six sliced beet sandwiches with a smidge of nut cheese filling, and at $20 it’s hard to justify just where your money is going. The eggplant manicotti is a better value at $17, but the title fails to explain that the manicotti consists of rolls of cold eggplant, and that by “chunky marinara sauce,” the chef actually means a sprinkling of sun-dried tomatoes. Hungry, yet unwilling to consume the dishes on our plates, my dining date and I prayed for a tastier dessert.

Dessert includes raw ice cream (“Isn’t all ice cream raw?” asks my dining partner) for $9, rice pudding for $7 and a raw lime mousse tart clocking in at a ridiculous $12. The chocolate ravioli is good in theory — a lightly fried phyllo dough filled with melting chocolate — but with dry dough and flavorless chocolate it’s a rip-off at $9.

After three courses and $70 dollars of beauty-provoking food, my stomach was still rumbling, so my dinner date and I finished the night at Bulldog Burrito. Though the restaurant wasn’t vegetarian, the black bean burrito ($5.70) and grilled vegetable tacos ($5.25) were. The menu didn’t make any claims about physical or spiritual enlightenment, but walking home with a full belly for under $15 dollars is all the enlightenment this college student could ask for.