Category Archives: Tour NJ

Naked Lunch at MOM’s Organics

1631 Kings Highway North Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
more locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., & Virginia
website | facebook | menu

When Alexa came to visit the Little Wolfie I thought it would be a good idea to get out of the house. We went to try out Naked Lunch- a small cafe attached to the food market chain MOM’s Organics. I am here to gush about both places. I know I don’t talk about markets that often, but I am totally digging this one!

I was pretty skeptical at first, MOM’s opened up across from the Whole Foods in town. I thought “who the heck would shop at MOM’s over Whole Foods?” There are definetly pros and cons between the two. The biggest (only?) con about MOM’s is that they don’t have a barista bar. Womp womp! And clearly there are some brands that aren’t available at MOM’s that are at Whole Foods. But on the flip side there are MORE smaller brands and products at MOM’s organics (and actual sales!).

They sell local ice cream brand Little Baby’s. They always have one vegan flavor for sale.

I remember coming into Whole Foods years ago and finding everything so new and amazing. There were so many eco-friendly and exciting new vegan products. But as time went on, it seemed to be not-so-special. I don’t know if it is because I am older, or if they got rid of the more unique items, but coming to MOM’s reminded me of the early days of Whole Foods and being excited about grocery shopping. There is a huge section of bulk foods including pastas, grains, beans, and soaps. They sell tofu by the pound and roast their own coffee beans. They are really interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Don’t want to waste a bag each time you buy beans? They sell glass jars to fill up, and I am sure you can bring your own containers.

There are also lots of products for sale that aren’t food. I almost flipped that they sold cloth diapers- the first store I saw them being sold in! I even bought a reusable coffee filter from there and they do seasonal collections for recycling items. Recently there was a jeans drive. At the exit there is a recycling bin for many different types of non-traditional items – snack bags/plastic bags, brita filters, corks, and shoes.

Any my favorite is that near the registers there are free cups of water- right next to the bottled water. How nice!

As mentioned they have a little cafe named Naked Lunch. Alexa and I ate here. They offer on tap kombucha, which isn’t as tasty as the ones at Whole Foods or Heart Beet Kitchen. It is a smidge too sweet for me, so depending on your preference, you might like it more. But the price is MUCH cheaper than the other two locations, so it is totally worth it. They also have fresh juices, though we didn’t try any of them.

The area for eating is very small, but there appears to be a wifi area on the second floor of the store. I haven’t checked that out yet, so I can’t make any comments on how nice it is. But I would ask the staff about it if you want to take your time eating your lunch.

All food is organic and vegetarian and the options that are vegan are clearly marked. The portions are huge! Alexa and I both had food to bring home, and used it in meals for several more lunches. I can easily say it is worth the $10 (roughly) that we paid for our meals.

I got the Lin Bowl which had tofu, brown rice, carrots, seaweed, zucchini, and kimchi. It was super tasty and reminded me of fried rice. I ate maybe a quarter of it while there, and proceeded to use the rice in wraps for 4 different lunches. I wish it had just a little bit more tofu to rice. But that is my only complaint.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: I ordered the Jammed Yam: Sweet Potato topped with pineapple-quinoa stuffing, avocado, and garnished with cilantro and jalapeño-lime dressing…

I loved how refreshing this tasted. I don’t think I would ever think to put all of these items together in one dish but it definitely worked.

The only thing that’s tough with vegan dishes for me is that a lot of times the dishes can lean towards being mostly carbs depending on the grains and veggies. I track my food on an almost daily basis (it’s not as grueling as it sounds – I promise!) so this really helped me meet my carb intake with the quinoa and sweet potato. The jalapeño-lime dressing wasn’t too spicy but definitely added a good flavor to the dish that was nice.

Like Jen said, we had plenty to take home, so I used it as a side for almost three meals after we went here! 


A tomato pie right before it goes into the oven

A tomato pie right before it goes into the oven

*A QUICK NOTE FOR US CITIZENS* Go out an vote tomorrow! Even if you don’t like Hilary or Trump, there are lots of local elections that you should pay attention to. And if you aren’t sure about who you will vote for, I STRONGLY recommend checking out the videos made by John Greene comparing Trump and Hilary’s policies to each other. In America sometimes we vote with who we “like” not who is better qualified, will do a good job, or have good policies. There is a very good video on Tax Policies, Health Care, and about the unlikeness that election will be rigged. That being said I hope that everyone votes tomorrow.

Coming up with a local food was a little hard. New Jersey’s culture is a little hard to pin point. We are a very diverse state, but we are also very segregated. We have lots of strong communities of immigrants. I’ve seen a wide range of ethnic supermarkets ranging from Korean, South East Asian, Chinese, Indian, Polish, Caribbean, African, Mexican, Italian, or some sort of mix (weirdest is the Chinese-African market, which might still be open). And looking past the international food contenders, New Jersey is heavily divided by their food influences between North (aka New York City) and South (aka Philadelphia).

tomatopie161

I grew up where Alexa is, and you might notice our reviews for restaurants in Fair Haven, Red Bank, and Asbury Park. These places are super dependent on NYC, even though it takes over an hour to get there. Fun fact, we actually fairly close to New York City- if we took a boat into the city. But otherwise cars, trains, and buses need to go west, then north, the east again. But I am now living in South Jersey, which means I am finding out weird traditions. Like apparently there is a Philly Style Bagel (it’s boiled in beer), irish potatoes, water ice (known as Italian Ice to everyone else),  cheesesteaks, and soft pretzels. Heck, you will probably hear about other various Pennsylvanian Dutch cuisines such as  scrapple and apple dumplings being “Philly foods.”

But it wasn’t until I moved out of Philly I heard of a tomato pie. I was complaining of the crummy pizza selection in Philly and South Jersey when my co-worker suggested I grab a tomato pie from Brunos. He was vegan, and I was eating mostly vegan at the time. I figured tomato pie was a term for a cheeseless pizza. But it isn’t. It is a term for a SPECIFIC kind of cheeseless pizza. There wasn’t really any tomato pies in North Jersey, but we did have the same style of pizza- we called them Sicilian styled pizza. My friends LOVED that pizza, but I wasn’t a big fan. Apparently it was just too greasy, because once you remove the cheese it is perfect.

tomatopie162

I’ve already featured a tomato pie on this site before. It was in the Southern method where you use a pie crust (side note there is a sweet pie using green tomatoes?! I should try that next year!) Well, mine was more like a cobbler with a corn bread crust on the top. So don’t expect a pizza when you order a tomato pie in the South.

I didn’t post a recipe, as this was my first time making it. I think I can tweak it to make it more like my favorite tomato pie. But it is a pretty easy recipe to make, I used the one from Serious Eats. I suggest making it on the weekend. It isn’t labor intensive but there is a lot of wait time. I made the dough in the morning, and about 2 hours before you eat, make the sauce and start proofing the dough. 

tomatopie163

Nervous about how to serve the pizza? Technically the pizza is served at room temperature, and you cut it in big square pieces (the dough is rolled out in a rectangular pan.) Traditionally the dish is pretty much vegan. Sometimes people use butter to sauté the sauce, and some people sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Some pizza shops like to sprinkle cheese on the dough, then place the sauce on top. So ALWAYS ask if the tomato pie is vegan.

Anyone have a local cuisine that has a misleading name as well?


front

Animo

210 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
1701 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
website | facebook haddonfield | facebook philadelphia | instagram | twitter

I am actually a little surprised it took me so long to post this review. See I use to work at Animo I guess around 2 years ago. I worked there for quite sometime actually, and I really miss the food. Vegan MOFO has the prompt of “Where do you eat when you want someone else to cook for you?” and the answer is nowhere. I usually have enough leftovers in the fridge or freezer to hold us off. We tend to find take out too much of a burden to do. The closest we get is me making a pizza from store bought dough or possibly Chinese take out.

But then I thought about the days of when I worked at Animo. If I ended up closing I would take home some burritos for Jon and I to eat. When I first started to work there they had free food for employees, which meant I would have their fresh juices, smoothies, and salad whenever I wanted. It was pretty nice. I would even sometime suppliment some of the meals there. If I had some soy yogurt, I would toss in some fresh fruit.

So let’s start with the basics- there are two locations for Animo. They have their original location in Haddonfield, NJ, but they have expanded into Philadelphia. I would recommend checking out the Haddonfield location since the Philadelphia location is always packed and is usually visited by office workers grabbing their lunch. Both locations differ, as I think the Philadelphia location tends to have more on location baked goods and special events.

theborder

The stores are not exclusively vegan. Sorry. But it is very easily customizable. The staff is usually pretty knowledgeable about what vegan means and will help you make your meal vegan. They don’t do fake vegan cheese or sour cream, but the flavors are really intense and you don’t need it.

The basic vegan ordering low down- the smoothies have yogurt in them. Ask for no yogurt or to sub with soy milk. The protein shakes are actually vegan by nature! They will probably ask what type of milk you want, cows, soy, or unsweetened almond. If they don’t, they defaulted to the soy. The protein powder is soy based unless you specifically ask for whey. They have acai bowls and special banana ice cream, both have no dairy in them. For the breakfast foods, you have a choice between their oatmeal or a peanut butter banana burrito.

Now for the burritos. My favorite thing about Animo is that they have two burrito sizes! You can get the full size burrito, or the ‘petito.’ A petito is about half the size of a normal burrito. So if you think Chipotle’s burritos are two meals, you’ll enjoy the petito. You can get their classic “mission” burrito, without cheese, and you have the “protein” option of veggies for extra. They also have the Bank Street (with veggies), Kale and Quinoa, and the Hummus and Veggie burritos which are all vegan as well.

And what is that beauty you see up above? That would be The Border Salad. It is lettuce greens topped with guac, blue corn chips, and pico de gallo. Since I’ve worked there I have my own little preferences. I skip the cilantro-lime dressing and go straight for their homemade hot sauce. I also like to get their salsa added, and it is totally worth it to get the roasted veggies added. Only thing is that you need to ask for no-cheese to make it vegan.


mountlaurel

b.good

26 Centerton Rd, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
500 Rte 73 S, The Promenade at Sagemore, Medford NJ 08053
More locations in MA, NH, NY, CT, ME, NC, RI, Canada & Switzerland
website | facebook | instagram | twitter | youtube

I don’t normally like giving updates on restaurants since I know they can change so much. Especially in this case- a chain. New places are going to open, often. But I kind-of felt like I needed an update. One I’ve tried so much more on the menu, and two I really like how this place tries to keep things local. Plus the new location is rather close to where I live, so I find it really nice.

Let’s start with their new locations. If you follow this blog because you like seeing restaurants in the NJ/Philadelphia area, there are two new locations to pay attention to. One is in/near the King of Prussia mall. I never go here, so I know nothing about this location. They have another location in Mount Laurel, which is right across from the new Virtua Health and Wellness Center. I like this since I swear most places surrounding hospitals are fast food joints. They also have started to expand to North Jersey and the NYC area. If you follow this blog for fun and aren’t even in the United States- good news! B.good is expanding out to Canada and Switzerland. Not sure how big the franchise will actually get in those areas though.

mountlaurelinside

What’s vegan? The options are pretty large. Salads, grain bowls, burgers, smoothies, and acai bowls. The grain bowls are their upgrade to the quinoa bowls, as reviewed in the older post. Pretty much you can get any of their bowls with quinoa or their super grains mix, which I thought was a little over cooked, but still tasty. If you aren’t quite full from their salad or grain bowl, you can add grilled tofu, chicken, or a hard boiled egg. What I like is that their tofu is supplied by Philadelphia brand Nature Soy, and is the same price as the chicken.

We tried their online ordering service, and it was pretty awesome. It is very easy to customize your food, we were able to order the Adopted Luke and Buffalo veganized. The food was ready when I got there, and if you want you can schedule when to pick up your food. The local New Jersey locations also does catering, which is great if your company needs some food for business meeting.

IMG_1051

The owners of b.good have expanded into the juice making market. They are debuting their fresh pressed juice under the name 4 Petal Fresh Pressed Juices. There aren’t any grand plans for the juice franchise yet. Their website was a pain to find, and very outdated. The Mount Laurel location had both juices and “agua frescas.” Though the juice is more expensive than what I would spend, they aren’t anymore than other slow press juices on the market.

As always I recommend checking out the website before going to the chain. Why? Each location can vary, since you know, it is suppose to be all local. The location near you might vary differently with the ingredients in the sauces. But below is a quick review of the food that my husband and I have tried to give a quick little sampler of what you can get

IMG_1031

  • ACAI BERRY SMOOTHIE – This was so-so. The smoothie was pretty icey and didn’t seem blended up all the way. The flavor didn’t come through all the way, which is a bummer.
  • LUCY BLUE – On the other hand this smoothie was full of flavor. It still didn’t get blended up enough, but I did see the guy blend it 1 1/2 cycles to try and get the dates all blended up. But I really liked it, just wished he left the second cycle run all the way
  • REAL FRIES – These were really thick fries. They brag on the bag that the fries have less fat than normal french fries, which can be great for some people.
  • SWEET POTATO FRIES – These were super tasty. Sadly we had them to go so they got a little soft and floppy but I think would of been perfect if we ate them there
  • CRISPY VEGGIES – That’s the description and I was envisioning various veggies cut into long strips and fried. Nope. Just steamed veggies.
  • SPICY AVOCADO & LIME QUINOA BOWL – I reviewed this my first visit and really loved it. You have to ask for no cheese to make it vegan. But the sauce was super yummy, and it tasted great with the quinoa (though it was the only option at the time)
  • TOASTED ALMOND & GINGER SUPER GRAIN BOWL – Another bowl with a great tasting sauce. The whole thing was massive and super filling (I think even more than when I got the Spicy Avocado Bowl.) I tried the super grains instead of the quinoa and some of the grains felt over cooked. I think I would stick with the quinoa.
  • WEST-SIDE VEGGIE BURGER – Wasn’t a fan of the patty, but my husband loved it. Very “chunky” with vegetables and not too many umami flavors. This burger you have to ask no cheese, but it works out well with the spicy sauce and guac.
  • ADOPTED LUKE VEGGIE BURGER – I think my husband and I agree this is our favorite burger. Since the burger lacks umami flavors, the onions make up for it. Ask for no cheese to make it vegan.
  • BUFFALO VEGGIE BURGER – I love everything “buffalo” flavored. Sadly, they either nixed the sauce or didn’t put enough! I had this burger to go, so I was home to added my own sauce. The veggies were nice on the burger, though I wish they cut the celery thinner. Ask for no dairy/cheese.

storefront

Seed to Sprout

410 Main Street, Avon by the Sea NJ 07717
560 A River Road, Fair Haven NJ 07704
*Note: the Fair Haven location is in the ACME shopping center and isn’t visible from River Road*
website | facebook | instagram | youtube

Finally, I have been able to visit Seed to Sprout. This place has been on my radar for awhile. Back in the day, I had the cool vegan places to visit, while Alexa had slimmer pickings. I remember scoping Happy Cow to try and find new vegan and vegetarian restaurants to eat at near Alexa. Seed to Sprout was one of these places. Then as time went on, their popularity grew. They aren’t massive by all means, but still they are growing. Terry Hope Romero has mentioned them in her Protein Ninja Book, they opened a second location in my hometown, and they are now selling some of their food at local Whole Foods. 

overall

Alexa is a pretty big fan of this place since they have a location across from her work (their Fair Haven location), giving her a vegan and healthy option on the go. Seed to Sprout is a vegan restaurant that models around the trendy healthy vegan movement. The foods are very light and veggie heavy. The store made me think of P.S. & Co in Philadelphia and Heart Beet Kitchen in Haddon Township. There are some raw options, salads, bowls, and grilled sandwiches. They also have a large selection of desserts to choose from, and prepackaged meals to grab to take home or to the office. And like any “healthy” restaurant there are lots of liquid options- fresh juices, kombucha, hot drinks, smoothies and shots.

The restaurant keeps expanding their options. They do a Friday Pizza Night serving both traditional pizza and raw ones. Note that the regular pizza you order by 12 inch pie, raw pizza you order by the slice (at a steep $7/8 per slice.) They have two featured pizzas each week, so you can always switch it up. They also do brunch Saturday and Sunday, where you can try their banana bacon pancakes that Terry Hope Romero talks about in her book. They also offer catering services for parties, and it seems their cakes are popular item.

So what did WE get?

bite1

burrito

Jen: Well I got the cashew collard wrap because I figured I could use the veggies (but didn’t want a massive salad.) Even though I always see collard wraps and think about how small they look, this was rather filling. I can only assume it has most of it’s calories are from the cashew pate. What I like about this wrap is that it is super healthy but eat to grab on the go. It won’t get soggy, but still something I wouldn’t make at home. Instead of getting a smoothie I got their Live Soda Kombucha, because I love that stuff. They had my favorite flavor- root beer.

scrambletoast

Alexa: I ordered the Mexican Omelet breakfast sandwich! I love the millet & flax bread as well as Seed to Sprout’s tofu scramble. The scramble is always packed with flavor and the Mexican omelet version had added coconut bacon and fresh chopped tomato. It was delicious and the perfect amount of food for a light meal during the summer. It’s been so hot out that the idea of eating anything more than this has made me feel like forgoing food altogether. 

asksalexaAlexa’s note: I normally enjoy getting the salads from Seed to Sprout as they are HUGE and for a pretty decent price. While they normally range around $11-$12, I find that I usually have enough salad to split between two meals whereas every other place in Fair Haven has way smaller salads for about $9-$10.

While it is right across the street from work and only about a 10 minute drive from my house I try not to eat here too often because it is a bit pricey. I understand I am getting good food that is environmentally conscious and animal friendly but it’s a bit much on my wallet if I venture in more than once a week.

mushsand booch

asksalexaAlexa’s note: I did get to go and have breakfast with my friend and fellow vegan from out of town and I tried their daily special breakfast sandwich as well as one of their kombucha mojitos.

I have been craving this kombucha drink pretty much all summer but stayed away from it because it’s $5. I figured that since I was on a lovely breakfast date I would break and give it a try. My only gripe is that it isn’t in a bigger glass because it is SO refreshing and delicious (and definitely non-alcoholic). The breakfast special I got was a fig melt which included spinach, figs, cashew cheese and caramelized onions. I got this specifically because I’ve never had anything like it and I’m always intrigued by the endless options in vegan dishes. It did not disappoint!

rootbooch

The biggest competition with Seed to Sprout is Good Karma. Sure Good Karma has some hippie-granola crunching decor, but both places offer an all vegan menu, raw food, gluten free options, and brunch. As Alexa mentioned, Seed to Sprout can be a little pricey, especially when compared to the portions to Good Karma. It is worth noting that Seed to Sprout is all organic, Good Karma is not (probably the cause for price differences.) Overall Good Karma is more stick to your ribs good, but Seed to Sprout has the best carry out options out there. 

Do yourself a favor- go to Seed to Sprout and grab their salad or raw burrito to go. Maybe add in a baked good or drink. Then drive out to Sandy Hook. It’ll be bliss- eating something tasty on the beach.


IMG_1001

Greenplate

202 route 130 N unit 5A, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

So Greenplate has been on my radar ever since I saw a flyer for it in one of those coupon books. It said vegan selections, and it is rare that a place that offers vegan food would have discounts and coupons- even when they are brand new. But the restaurant is a little out of my way, so I always skipped it. But one Monday I was running errands and thought- why not check it out? It was only an 8 minute drive away. Sadly, I think this is the one time I have a bad review of a restaurant on this site.

Let me start with the good things about this place. The store was VERY clean and pretty easy to get to. I kind-of like how it is in a strip mall since it comes off as more approachable for some people. The store has a tablet ordering system similar to Honeygrow. I love this type of system because it makes it easy to know what you are ordering, or there isn’t any miscommunication with the staff, which I remember happening often when working in the restaurant industry. Plus it is easy to see what you are being charged extra for.

The staff was really helpful. I ordered a smoothie and asked for no honey, not noticing they were pre-mixed in a slushie machine (which is becoming more and more popular for healthy fast food places.) Someone came up to me and pointed out they couldn’t take it out, and refunded me the money. They knew what was in everything.

IMG_0999

 

Now for the bad stuff- the food. The food was super underwhelming. I am excited there is a place that has vegan options. Any of the stir fry or salad dishes you could sub the chicken with tofu or tempeh. Annoyingly the tofu was an extra 50 cents, which seems odd that soy beans would be expensive than organic chicken. The tempeh was a dollar extra, which seems about right knowing the current price for tempeh in the states. 

I ordered the Dragon Ginger noodles. You had the option for brown rice, wheat noodles, or gluten free noodles. I got the wheat noodles, which tasted like linguini pasta- which doesn’t work in a stir fry. The sauce was really thin, and sank to the bottom of the bowl. The veggies were pretty cheap, but at least fresh. It was just some green bell pepper, red onion, and shaved carrot. The tofu was NOT worth the extra 50 cents. It was raw, which being pregnant isn’t the greatest as it should be fully heated to kill any bacteria. Nor was it pressed or seared or had anything done to help with flavor. I don’t think the staff knows how to cook tofu properly, which made me extra happy that I didn’t bother getting the tempeh which probably was very bitter. 

I really want to like this place because I like how they are trying to encourage a vegan diet. But overall the place has a similar format and goals as other restaurants with much better food and personality like Honeygrow or b.good. If I was trying out vegan food and I got this dish I would of been really disappointed. I would probably assume tofu sucked, and there was something lacking from vegan food.

Even though everything was great- fast service, spotless kitchen, helpful staff, I can’t find myself coming back based on the food. If the food isn’t good, why would I come? I can easily make this dish at home, and it seemed pretty overpriced for what I got.


menu

Cookman Creamery

711 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
website | instagram | twitter

I’ve been dreaming about coming here. I am a little more inclined to visit Alexa and the “shore” during the off seasons- Fall, Winter, and Spring. I don’t like summer, and I don’t like traffic. But I do like Alexa and I do love food (Alexa’s Note: I’m so pleased to see that as much as Jen may “like” me she “LOVES” food. I’m feelin’ it.), so it is very frustrating when places are closed for the off season. This is one of those places. I’ve been wanting to check it out, but during the colder season the store doesn’t have as many hours.

Cookman Creamery isn’t 100% vegan. They carry regular old ice cream and vegan ice cream. And not just vanilla and chocolate, like good flavors. As you can see from the photo above, they have many flavors, and when we went there was a little more than usual. Heck they even have vegan soft serve in vanilla OR cookies and cream. Is this a vegan’s dream ice cream shop or what?

icecream

Our favorites? Well, Alexa got the Twisted Tree ice cream, which used ginger cookies from another local vegetarian/vegan cafe and restaurant Twisted Tree. We also tried the pistachio ice cream, which was yummy and super natural tasting. I am sure some people have had the problem where the pistachio flavor becomes so intense that it doesn’t quite taste, well, like pistachios. Alexa and I really loved the Blue Lavender ice cream, but I recently made purple basil ice cream, so I passed on it. I went for the balsamic strawberry ice cream (another favorite of Alexa’s). The balsamic flavor is very subtle, which I personally like a lot. 

Their website says their ice cream base is coconut cream, which makes them super creamy and rich. Truthfully that is what I want in my ice cream when eating out. I don’t think I picked up on ANY coconut flavors in the ones we ate. But I am sure other ice creams like the Almond Joy and Pina Colada they will play up the coconut flavor. My only complaint, is that the vegan ice cream is a whole dollar extra compared to the normal ice cream. A little bit of a bummer, but still worth the price I think.

asksalexaAlexa Here! I also love this place and luckily have been able to visit it somewhat regularly this season as opposed to last summer when I too dreamed of the establishment. Something I noted on when I went for the first time was all of the different flavors, like Jen mentioned. I expected some cookie-based flavors, but never thought of seeing something like the Blue Lavender or Strawberry Balsamic. I’m always adventurous when trying ice cream but honestly a little naive when it comes to the massive amount of (good) flavors there could possibly be. I also think Cookman Creamery tries to switch out different flavors depending on the week – I know that at one point they had a vegan matcha flavor but I haven’t come across it when I’ve visited so far and it honestly makes me cry inside. That being said, everything I’ve had so far is amazing. 

Jen also mentioned the coconut cream base for all of their vegan flavors, and I think this is a huge benefit for their ice cream versus something you’d buy in a store. While the new vegan Ben & Jerry’s is very good they’re all almond milk based and you can definitely tell. As someone who is a connoisseur of vegan – and sometimes – non-vegan ice cream I can usually tell when it’s not a milk or cream based flavor, but with Cookman Creamery you wouldn’t even notice. I only say this because I could even convince someone who is a non-vegan to try some of these and they wouldn’t even have an excuse not to! 

I think my only gripe about Cookman is that the prices are a bit high. I understand when you’re using vegan and ‘organic’ products that it’ll hike the cost up a bit more, but I almost can’t justify buying one of the pints of vegan ice cream from them because the pints run around $8.50, whereas I can go and buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or *insert vegan ice cream that can be found in Whole Foods/Wegman’s* for $3-$4 less. However, if that’s my only complaint then I would still consider it an amazing experience! The staff are all really nice and are very knowledgeable of the product, I recommend making the trip if you are in Asbury!


storefront

Cardinal Provisions

514 Bangs Ave Asbury Park, NJ 07712
website | facebook | instagram

I remember when I first started the blog, Alexa usually came to me because I had more vegan options in my area. Flash forward to today, now it seems like Alexa is sitting in the suburban vegan mecca. There are so many places I want to visit near her, but they are usually closed on the day I come to visit- Mondays. So Alexa suggested Cardinal Provisions, a brunch and lunch based restaurant. She had went before and thought I would dig it.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: Visiting Cardinal with Jen wasn’t the first time I had been there. I had actually gone on Valentine’s day with Mr. Ian, and on that day I had one of THE BEST waffles I have ever had. It’s definitely on my list of Top 5…because apparently I have that sort of list now. I believe it was a special for that weekend, but hopefully it will pop up again. The waffle was covered in caramelized bananas and thin mint crumbs. 

That’s right…THIN MINT CRUMBS. 

I loved the dish because 1) it was vegan and 2) it’s not something that I have see anywhere else yet almost resembled something that I might make for myself (and think “Alexa, you are cray cray.”) I was slightly hesitant about the mixture of banana and mint flavor, but it was fantastic. I had also had the nitro infused coffee with my food that morning and it made everything even more delicious.

She was right, I loved the place. If you have ever been into New York City for brunch and enjoyed it, you will love this place. The store is very small but has a lot of personality. I am not sure how common this style of restaurant is, but you are seated, and waited on, but you pay at the end at the cashier. There are some baked goods and juices that you can grab and take with you, making it a spot to actually get a breakfast “on the go”. There are adorable vintage tiled floors, cute metal backed seats, and vintage salt and pepper shakers at all the tables. Yup, they pretty much nailed the setting.

hawt-chick

Just wanted to point out that Alexa wore the exact same shirt when we went to MOGO– GET YOUR BLOGGING SHIT TOGETHER!

So is the place vegan? Uh… no. But the menu is very vegan friendly. There are only about two dishes listed as vegan on their breakfast/lunch menu, and three from their brunch menu but they have little Vs next to items that can be made vegan. This is a dream come true for vegans who love breakfast foods. It even looks like about half of the kids menu is vegan as well (mostly nut butter or jam sandwich combos and some veggies) If you are looking to grab a quick breakfast, you can get their vegan croissants and some fresh juice up at the counter. Oh you heard me correctly. Vegan croissants at a non-vegan restaurant. Although this might not happen every day, when we went they actually have a daily special that was vegan. Let’s face it, how often does that happen?

A word of caution. If you want to do the traditional brunch thing and do some day drinking, you might have to bring your own booze. Cardinal Provisions does not have a liquor license, so call ahead of time to see if it is okay if you bring your own champagne for mimosas. They also have nitro infused coffee and I fucked up and missed by chance to try freshly tapped nitro coffee. Also on the menu that would quench your cocktail thirst? Kombucha, bitters and soda, green, grapefruit, and orange juices.

register

So what did we get? Well, the day we went they have a special- a vegan burger on a either a roll or vegan croissant. It originally came with fries, but we were both in the mood for a side salad. The burger was topped with a pickled carrot slice, cauliflower, and artichoke. Let me tell you, it has been a long time since I’ve had a croissant, and this was much better than the ones I had in the past. The croissant was super flakey and buttery. The burger was also the best vegan burger I’ve gotten in a non-vegan restaurant. The burger was very solid, and didn’t smoosh out like most vegan burgers. The outside was charred beautifully giving a nice contrast to the flaky croissant.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: Since I love the place so much, I visited again without Jenny. The other dish that I’ve gotten here also involved waffles (I’m not sure if anyone else is picking up on a theme here or if it’s just me?), but it was the vegan version of Chicken and Waffles. In place of chicken they subbed in a mushroom that they were calling “Hen of the Woods”, which I believe is just a fried maitake mushroom. I loved the texture and taste of it, and as a vegetarian I can get pretty tired of mushroom consistency and flavor. It came with a jalapeño cashew remoulade layered on top and then syrup to go on top of all of that. Again, it was another dish where I could have been a mad scientist playing in my kitchen but it magically tasted fantastic once on the plate. This dish is (luckily) on the menu all of the time. I highly recommend it. 

I also love the atmosphere like Jen pointed out. Not only is the decor really adorable, but the employees are super nice and are always willing to help you find a way to make whatever you want into a vegan friendly version of itself if it isn’t already. I haven’t had a bad meal there yet and I don’t expect I ever will.

burger

If you check out their website you might notice that they have both the restaurant and catering services. If you are looking to do a wedding shower, work event, wedding, baby shower, etc, they will work with all your requirements. I’ve been following their instagram account and have seen some photos of some all vegan catering jobs. Thinking about when Jon and I were planning out wedding, this would of been a great options. At the time he wasn’t vegan and I was trying to be. Cardinal Provisions would of given us a nice 50/50 menu of vegan and non-vegan options.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: Last note! If you are in the market for a birthday (or any celebratory) cake, they do that as well! A friend of mine ordered a cake from Cardinal for her birthday and it was actually the best cake I’ve ever had. And it was vegan!! The cake was moist, the frosting was delicious and didn’t taste overly sugary…it was sublime. 

So we would both recommend this place if you want a fancy lunch out. It isn’t a 4 star restaurant, but not quite the place to go for a cheap meal either. If I was staying for vacation in Asbury Park I would recommend checking this place out at least once for lunch or brunch. That being said, for the price range for a lot of the nicer restaurants in this area it isn’t that much more. 


storefront

Heart Beet Kitchen

29 Haddon Ave Westmont, NJ 08108
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

I think I am cursed. I lived in Philadelphia and went vegan. Although I had plenty to eat, it seemed that once I left so many all vegan restaurants opened up. Then I move out of the Haddonfield area and what happens? An all vegan restaurant opens up within walking distance of my house. I am very glad that veganism is speading, but I do wish these places would be available when I actually live in the area. And does that window reflection look familiar? Well, I reviewed that lime green store, Espressit, back in the day, as it has many yummy vegan options.

table

But let’s talk about Heart Beet Kitchen because I really do love this place. It opened towards the end of 2015. They serve gluten-free and vegan meals that are locally sourced. The place is set up so you order at the counter, you get a numbered jar (with a napkin and utensils) and sit down, and your food is brought out to you. So it is a pretty casual setting that reminds me of P.S. & Co.

padthai

The menu is mostly raw, and is very light. I got the peanut-free pad thai, and enjoyed it. The noodles were spiralized zucchini, edamame, marinated mushrooms, carrots, purple cabbage, peppers, sesame seeds, and tossed in a sauce. The meal was surprisingly filling and perfect for lunchtime. The price was a little bit on the higher end, but if price is a concern you can easily grab any of their salads which a little bit cheaper. Note- I am not saying that the price is particularly high for what you get, it is just a little bit more than what I am use to spending on such a casual styled setting.

img_0501

There is also a wide selection of drinks to choose from. This is the first place I’ve been to that has on tap kombucha. They use locally brewed kombucha from Inspired Brews in Philadelphia. If you check out their website you might see honey listed in the ingredients. I contacted the store owner and she said that they get specially made honey free kombucha. But I do give heads up that she said that sometimes they get requests from customers for other flavors that have honey. So if you are buying a bottle, check the ingredients to make sure there isn’t any honey. On tap kombucha should always be vegan.

counter

Not into kombucha? They have a list of different smoothies to order from and some fresh pressed juices that you can grab from the fridge. If you want something creamy they get almond milks made by origin almond milks, a South Jersey based company. I tried their dark cacao milk and it was very tasty and rich. If you want something hot they have coffee and espresso options using beans from Revolution Coffee Roasters in Collingswood and a variety of teas. Need a drink on the go? There’s maple water and boxed water (I think).

puppy

What I really like about this shop is the atmosphere. The owner really spent some time and money to make the place look amazing. I could picture myself coming again and getting just a drink and sitting down with a book. They are very animal friendly, and I saw people bring their dogs in briefly to pick up some food. The whole place was a big departure as I’ve gotten use to the more “junk food” vegan culture with places like Blackbird, Papa Ganache, Glory Donuts, VLife, and Dottie’s Donuts. Everything is light and super vegetable heavy which is something that can be hard to find when eating out. 


storefront

Papa Ganache

106 Main St, Matawan, NJ 07747
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

It is weird that I get so excited about vegan bakeries but always get reminded that I don’t actually liked them much? I think it has to do with the fact I grew up with home baked goods. I never really got the prepackaged cupcakes or cookies, so maybe I lust after bakeries since it was something my friends always did. Or maybe it is because I grew up in a very heavy Italian area and just never liked those cookies? Or that I am super specific about what I want from a baked good? Who knows, but what I do know is that we need someone else to bake a cake for special occasions from time to time. When I had my wedding, I remember trying to find a place to bake our cake, I wanted to go with a vegan only bakery. There wasn’t anything nearby so we went with a regular bakery that was happy to make a vegan cake, and it was awesome. But if this place was open at the time, I would of been super happy to have the cake made by them.

tins

Papa Ganache is located in Matawan New Jersey near one of Alexa’s favorite bars, so you could always plan a dinner of cupcakes and grab some beers afterwards. The store participated in Cupcake Wars, and have won! It is the People’s Choice Awards episode, if you are wondering. The bakery does catered events, special orders, and sells wholesale baked goods as well. They also make some gluten free goods, though they are not an exclusively gluten-free kitchen. Not into baked goods? There is a small selection of savory foods you can pick up at the store. There are some soups that you grab and go, and their website lists other meal options. We personally didn’t see many options but we came later in the day, so you might have to get there closer to lunch time or special order them.

cremebrule

They have a huge selection of different baked goods to choose from, including an apple pie pizza. But seeing how they won cupcake wars we figured we should stick to their classics. They have a massive amount of cupcakes to choose from but we narrowed it down to two- the creme brulee and s’mores. The frosting was super whipped and kept it’s structure. We were pretty excited and ate the cupcakes fast, but if you are eating there, I would recommend letting your cupcakes sit for a little bit so the frosting softens up. 

smores

I personally liked the creme brulee cupcake the best. I like the frosting to cake ratio. They also put a small layer of sugar on top and melted it, so you get a delicious burnt sugar topping. Alexa was a little bit bias with the s’mores cupcake since it is her favorite flavor for everything. We both thought there was a little too much frosting on top, but still super yummy. We also got a sandwich cookie for Alexa’s mother, which she seemed to enjoy a lot. 

mural

And if all these baked goods didn’t put you in a sugar coma, they offer lots of vegan candies. Getting a stomachache yet? I actually liked this idea because they carried Premium Chocolatiers, an all vegan candy shop based in New Jersey. They are very allergy friendly, having nut and gluten free factory. You might of seen some of their candy from Vegan Cuts but if you want to buy it person, this is a place to go. I personally find their chocolate too sweet, but are great for little kids. 

Overall, I don’t see myself going to this bakery often since I am not a sweets sort of girl. But they do know what they are doing and have classic all American baked goods. I always love the idea that bakeries give a person the option of just buying one cupcake instead of making a batch of 12. I also know where to go for my next cake for a special event.