Vegan on the Jersey Shore, Part 1: Karma Cafe
Living in the shiny apple of the Tri-state area, I don’t get to New Jersey very often. But in the search of sun and sustenance not-so far from home, I was surprised at how plenty the Jersey Shore was with vegan options. It was time to return to the Jersey Shore.
Before the words “Jersey Shore” conjured up a shudder, thanks to a television reality program, it brought to mind the summers my family spent there. A Swing Ride that suspended you right off the boardwalk and over the salty ocean, the rotating cylinder in a fun house, ketchup and mustard color. It was a summer weekend destination, one of the few. This trip would add to my positive associations with New York’s neighboring state–in the form of delicious food.
Good Karma Cafe in Red Bank, New Jersey was our first destination. With a hectic start and empty bellies, CandyPenny and I saved ourselves for lunch-proper at noon at this all-vegan (I love those words) cafe in Red Bank, a borough of Monmouth County.
The cafe has a wide array of vegan items on its menu, including live foods, hearty sandwiches and Asian-inspired entrees. Vegetables are on the forefront of this menu, as they should be, but their accompanying tempeh, seitan and housemade cheese are wonderful partners of well-done deliciousness. We started with their Queso & Nacho Chips, a generous portion of blue corn tortilla chips with a warm, scrumptious bowl of their nutritional yeast-packed cheese.
There are certain opportunities one must never pass up. Ordering a Reuben when it’s offered is one such opportunity. The Reuben appeals to all that draws me to sandwiches: it’s hearty-almost always a two-hand sandwich, it’s sweet (dressed with the sweet tang of Thousand Islands dressing, one of Karma Cafe’s many great dressing choices), it’s sour with a ton of that pickled good stuff and it’s always on the most flavorful breads. Mine is served with a side salad and the zing of carrot-ginger.
Good Karma was a great first stop. Their food is flavorful and thoughtfully prepared. Housemade items speak volumes for an eatery’s passion for food. It rubs me the wrong way to be served something I know came straight from a package. In the wake and spread of convenient vegan groceries, from cheeses to dressings to flavor-sealed tempeh and sausages, I’d prefer the skill of a chef (or line cook) in determining their plates. Ok, New Jersey. What else you got?