Tag Archives: omni

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Cardinal Provisions

514 Bangs Ave Asbury Park, NJ 07712
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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.

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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.

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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 jalapeƱo 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.

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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. 


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Indeblue

619 Collings Avenue Collingswood, NJ 08107
205 South 13th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
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I’ve been a long fan of Indeblue. I remember visiting it with Jon and his father when it was starting out in it’s first small location, which is just across the street from their current location in Collingswood. I went with my husband and my Father-in-Law, my Father-in-Law just went nuts with ordering. I’d be looking at the menu and say I was thinking about ordering the soup, and BAM he would just order the soup for us to try without me deciding if I really wanted it or not. I don’t think I actually had a vegan dinner, as it was years ago before I was fully vegan. Since then they’ve moved to a much bigger building and had expanded their menu. They also have a location in Center City Philadelphia, but I haven’t visited it. Why would I? It is much easier to go to the one in Collingswood. So how vegan is it now?

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Very vegan friendly. They might not have a massive selection of vegan options, but there is enough that if you go in you will have some choices. We went during a Sunday for their brunch and we were pleasantly surprised. If you want to drink for brunch, prepare before hand. Collingswood is a dry town, so you need to bring your own booze. This can save you some big bucks on the overall menu. Most places in the town are prepared to make cocktails for you if you bring your own drinks. They have a bloody mary that was to die for. I loved it so much that I had to make my own at home. The only downside is that there is a lot spices in there and the drink is really thick. I didn’t know at the time that worcestershire sauce is used in bloody marys, so if you are interested, make sure you ask. You can buy it by the glass or pitcher. If the bloody marys do use worcestershire sauce, you can get orange and mango juice that you can mix with some vegan champagne.

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What I really like about IndeBlue is that all their vegan options are labeled easily along with gluten free options. Some of them overlap. They even list things that are easily made vegan so you can just state “make it vegan” when ordering, you know instead of saying “instead of no cheese and mayo can I….” Once you look at the menu you then realise you have tons of options to pick from. I know Jon and I had a hard time picking what we wanted when we got there.

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I got the chole bhature made vegan, pictured above. I was so hungry that I didn’t ask what made it non-vegan. The end results was super yummy, but very spicy. There is a big puffy piece of bread that I spooned the chickpeas onto. The chickpeas were in a curry sauce made from tomatoes and a pomegranate juice, balancing the spicy, sweet, and sour flavors into a delicious brunch. This was super filling, and I actually took some home to eat later.

My husband got the uttapam, pictured below. Uttapam is a lentil pancake, that comes with two different chutneys to dip into. My husband loved the savory pancakes, and appreciated having some protein in a normally carb heavy breakfast food. in fact he was a little too stuffed by the end of the brunch.

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One thing I can say is that the menu can vary greatly between the Philadelphia location and the Collingswood location. A lot of restaurants do this because the cities have different markets, and it also keeps things a little interesting between the two places. It does also appear that the Philadelphia location does have a liquor license so they have a few cocktails to choose from. If you go during dinner time there is an entire section of vegetarian dishes, make it easier to select your main dish. But if you go during lunch your vegans options are very limited unfortunately.

Personally I love the idea of an indian brunch. I am not a big brunch fan, and usually favor more lunch like options. So coming here is a great compromise. And as mentioned, the vegan options make it easy to pick because nothing is more annoying than having to ask the waiter a bucket full of questions.


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Espressit

18 Haddon Ave, Haddon Township, NJ 08108
website | facebook

When I first moved to the South Jersey area I remember all my coworkers pushing for me to check out Espressit since they had the best coffee in the area and vegan food. Sadly it was out of the way from where I lived and worked, so when I got there they would sell out of their vegan baked goods. But as the years went by their vegan goods have expanded, and expanded, and expanded! Now I would say this is a must see spot for the vegan community.

This is a coffee shop, so clearly they have vegan options for their drinks. They have vegan smoothies and options of almond or soy milk for lattes. They started offering vegan muffins and vegan snack bars. Their muffins are HUGE! They are a breakfast by themselves, or something to share with a person. There are also vegan cookies, which are also huge, and other seasonal desserts that they rotate.

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Although getting vegan muffins and cookies is pretty cool, I am mostly excited about how they have vegan sandwiches, wraps, and burritos. It use to be a rare occurrence that they would have a sandwich by the time I came in, but I guess the demand has expanded. So there is now several different options to choose from as a vegan. Everything is clearly labeled and easy to figure out what you can eat. I personally love their Indian styled burrito.

It is worth noting that their whole store isn’t vegan or vegetarian. It shouldn’t stop you from popping in and grabbing a bite. Truthfully, they are in a small suburban town where being 100% vegan would probably be hard. But it makes a great spot to meet up with omni friends. You grab a vegan burrito and they can get their chicken wrap.

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Now the menu for vegans have gotten even larger! There is a vegan hot bar! It starts after 4, but I haven’t had the joy of sampling the food. Sadly eating out for dinner during the week isn’t my thing. If their hot food is as good as their burritos and muffins then it will be well worth your time and money. I also point out that I am unsure if they are still doing it- it has been a couple of months since I’ve been there as it is pretty far from my new house.

What really makes Espressit so special is that the owner works hard to be part of the community. There are works of art hanging in the shop that usually rotate every month. There are live performances, movie nights, and more. Whenever I would pop in before work it seemed that there was always people in the area getting together to talk and catch up. This makes the place have such a great vibe, and makes it a great place to meet up and chat with someone (instead of reading a book by yourself). 

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Banh Mi Boy

209 East Main Street, Newark DE, 19711
website | facebook | twitter

Even though my parents moved to Delaware, I haven’t really eaten at many places in the state. In fact, I don’t think I ate out at all there. I packed my own lunch when I helped my parents move. #veganlife Another time I went down to visit and my parents drove me all the way to Victory Brew-Pub in Pennsylvania. Which is funny, since I went to this place alone. I picked up my Grandparents from the airport, I had everything planned out, but didn’t take in consideration that my Grandparents move at a much slower pace than what I am use to. Both Jon and my parents are seasoned travelers, and we expect very quick pick-ups. Oh no- not my Grandparents, my Pappy requested a wheelchair, and it wasn’t there when they got off the plane. Then when they finally got luggage (not many people that I pick up actually checks their luggage). My Nanna and Pappy described the airport as very fast paced, and I was thinking “duh, it’s an airport!” Now, I know that isn’t fair for me to say since my Grandparents grew up in a slow rural town, and I have almost always used high traffic airports (Philadelphia, Boston, Newark, La Guardia.) Hell, Orlando is a leisurely airport to me. Well once we got on the road there was a huge accident and we had to take a detour. 

So by the time I dropped my Grandparents at my parents house it was 1:00 pm and the last thing I ate was a smoothie at 8 in the morning. I was starving and had to find a place fast. A quick search via HappyCow.com resulted in Banh Mi Boy. They aren’t all vegan, but very vegan friendly. The menu is pretty small, sandwiches, salads, summer rolls and drinks. I apologize for the lack of photos (and having not so great pictures), I was just so hungry and rushed to get back home. 

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The store is located in the downtown area of Newark, so parking can stink. But you will be happy to take the time to find parking. This store has a pretty boring outside, but has a bright orange interior. There are tons of snacks and drinks to choose from. Some are healthy, some were the normal junk food. There was normal soda, or green tea. There was pretty much something for everyone. 

So what’s vegan? Each main option, sandwich, salad, and summer roll, has a vegan option. There is a tofu sandwich that comes with pickled veggies, homemade vegan mayo, on a crispy french roll. There is also a tofu salad, using many of the same veggies in sandwich topped with a ginger soy dressing. There are vegetarian summer rolls as well. They have some specialty drinks, but I doubt they are vegan. You could technically get their coffee without the condensed milk to make it vegan. They also have traditional bubble tea but that has half-n-half. They have other flavors, but it looks like they use powder mixes, which most likely will contain whey or some form of powdered milk. Sorry vegans, you will have to stick with canned drinks.

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When I went there had a special lemongrass tofu sandwich, which was awesome. They sliced the tofu into long thin strips, and was well pressed. The pickled veggies were thicker than what I tend to like, but the bread quickly made up for it. Lately I’ve been getting lots of Banh Mi sandwiches that taste yummy but lack a strong roll. This one was flakey and full of flavor.

What I love about Banh Mi is that it isn’t very fussy. You can bring someone and know that it will be a fairly safe bet. It is exotic and different, but is served is a familiar form to most Americans. I was originally planning on bringing my Grandparents to the place, but they insisted that they weren’t hungry. I recommend checking this place out when you are in the area. You can even walk down the street to Brew Ha Ha and pick up a vegan donut made by Dottie’s Donuts.


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Honeygrow

1588 Kings Hwy N, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
More locations in Radmor, Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, PA
Upcoming Locations: Hoboken NJ, Newark & Wilmington DE
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Working at a restaurant, I know the frustrations between customer and cashier. There is a lot of space for confusion. Sometimes the person ordering is misinformed, sometimes it is the cashier. You wouldn’t believe how many times people order the wrong thing and blame the cashier, or have the situation totally opposite. Which is why I am totally in love with this new emerging chain named Honeygrow.

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I knew of the name Honeygrow because it was on my list of potential places to check out in Philly. At the time it was a cool idea since my husband was still fairly omnivorous, and I was always seeking very veg-friendly restaurants. But on my way to work I noticed how a local shopping center had totally turned around once Whole Foods opened up. One of the shops was a new branch from Honeygrow. I eagerly watched for the shop to open since it would be a great stop for dinner on late nights. Once the store was opened, I excitedly went in, not know really what it would be like.

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What makes Honeygrow so different is how automated it is. Basically they cut out the cashier, so there is no confusion if I said “egg noodles” or “rice noodles.” And it is pretty easy to navigate, stir-fry, salad or other. Then the menu gives you options all along the way, giving some premade options, or letting you choose veggies, protein, sauce, and noodle. This means that you have full control of your dietary restriction. All items are labeled clearly if they are vegan or gluten-free and there are lots of workers around to help with questions.

What else is really cool is that while waiting I could make out a general system that was going on with the line chefs. It looked like there was one guy who would prep the veggies, then got passed to a person who did the grains, then to someone who did the proteins and frying. This down the line system really makes it fairly fool proof to mess up what you ordered. And since there is such a large volume of custom orders you have less mess-up from habit. For example if you order a veggie burger with no cheese, sometimes you will get it with cheese on top not because the chef is trying to be an asshole. Sometimes it is just one of those things where if you are making 50 veggies burgers in a day, you just get accustomed to adding the cheese. Having a checklist of ingredients instead of set menu items minimizes forming bad habits like that.

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So for the first day I tried to keep it simple. I got my husband and I the vegan set menu item, the red coconut curry. It has tofu, red onion, red bell pepper, carrots, and rice noodles tossed in their red coconut curry. The item is listed as “spicy” but that is deceiving. It has a light kick, so if you like spicy, grab some sriracha. But the dish was delicious, and both my husband and I were wanting more.

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We went back a second time for take out, this time we tried to make custom orders. We stuck to the veggies, tofu, and rice noodles option, but switched around the sauces. I got my husband the sour cherry BBQ, which wasn’t vegan (I think because it has honey, but I forgot to ask a worker) which he said was pretty tasty, but wished it was spicier. I got the sesame garlic topping, which was delicious. It made the dish taste like chinese takeout only not as greasy and with fresher ingredients.

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When Alexa came to visit I knew we had to check the place out in person, see what it would be like to eat there. The second trip I tried their lemon-miso-tahini with rice, which was amazing. The rice is a mix of black and brown rice, which gave a nice chewy texture. I think the rice probably would of paired better with sesame garlic sauce in the end though. Alexa tried out the egg noodles (as a vegetarian friendly option) with the coconut curry and got her seal of approval.

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Pros:

  • Easy to customize orders and hard to mess up. Making it ideal for dietary restrictions.
  • I also find that the wait isn’t very long regardless how busy it is, and probably have to do with their line system. 
  • Ingredients are super fresh, so fresh you can taste it
  • Everything is pretty much well cooked, tofu firm, spinach not over cooked etc.
  • Multiple locations, so you have more chances to give the place a try
  • The Kitchen is peanut free, making it great for people with allergies.

Cons:

  • It is always busy. I mean ALWAYS. I keep trying to come during off hours and they are still packed.
  • Seating is alright, since it is so busy you might find yourself eating at the stool and bench, which isn’t very comfy. This complaint may be exclusive the the Cherry Hill location.
  • Cross contamination is a big possibility. It doesn’t seem to be any special woks just for meat, gluten, etc. Some people might be freaked out by this. The company contacted me about cross contamination and wrote this back: “We use a separate wok and equipment for rice noodle requests and the wok is thoroughly cleaned/burned between each stir fry to avoid cross contamination for vegetarians and vegans – we also change gloves when noted vegetarian or vegan. When a guest states that they are gluten free, we make a point to change gloves, aprons, clean and sanitize the ladles, and burn the wok. Lastly, there is a separate wok that is used whenever an allergy is extremely sever and it is needed.”

Pro OR Con: It isn’t vegan exclusive. This can make it great for eating out with stubborn relatives, but stinks that you can’t expose people to delicious vegan options. But because they have so many vegan options means it gives a friendly enviroment for people who are interested in cutting back on animal products. Take what you will from this concept.