We haven’t had a whole lot of time to vacation this summer, but last weekend we took a little getaway to Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch, NJ. It was just a 45 minute to 1 hour ferry ride from South Street in Lower Manhattan.
I didn’t expect much from the food, so I was pleasantly surprised that there were plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans.
The first night we went next door to our hotel to a complex called Pier Village.
There are about a dozen restaurants offering every cuisine under the sun (or in this case on the beach, ha ha). We settled on a place called Avenue. We sat outside with a great view of the ocean, just a short distance away. It was mainly a seafood restaurant and we didn’t even look over the menu much before sitting down, so I figured I’d have to settle on eating a couple side dishes. Imagine my delight when I saw a vegan entree that wasn’t just a bunch of vegetables on a plate, but rather a balanced meal. It was Exotic Mushroom and Tempeh Fricassee with kale, leeks, shallots, brusssels sprouts and grilled cippolini onions in a savory veggie broth. It was honestly one of the most creative vegan dishes I’ve seen at any restaurant, much less one that isn’t vegan. It was delicious and very filling. Bravo to Avenue for thinking out of the box.
The next day after hanging by the pool we went back to Pier Village to eat at Shaka. Think Chipotle, but with a lot more options! You can see why I was drawn there from the description on their website:
“We operate our restaurant with “Earth Friendly” products and practices. Serve the freshest all natural products & source these items locally in
season. Prepare these ingredients using “From Scratch” recipes. Never use shortcuts. Only use recycled and/or biodegradable paper, packaging and tableware. Supply the Big Island Environment that recharges the Mind, Body and Soul.” What made the visit even better was that they offer a Little Dudes and Dudettes menu and it doesn’t just have your standard kid’s menu items. It has rice bowls and I just knew Alexia would love the vegan one. It was assorted veggies, rice and chips and I added black beans because she loves them! It also came with a bag of mini carrots. Alexia proceeded to dip the carrots and chips in salsa. I think she could have dipped all day long. She loves dipping her food and since salsa is a healthy dip I let her dig in as much as she wants. There were also lots of vegan and vegetarian options on the adult menu. I settled on fajita veggie quesadillas with baby spinach, assorted grilled fajita veggies, hass avocado and manchego cheese. I’m sure any of their veggie offerings can be made vegan, if you ask them to leave off the cheese. There were also veggie rices bowls, salads, burritos and tacos. Everything was super fresh and filling!
Saturday night we stayed at our hotel and ate outside at the Tiki Bar. It was such a gorgeous setting and there was a great cover band playing perfect beach music. I had the yummiest drink I’ve had in a long time there. It was a Bacardi Dragonberry Mojito. It was sweet and very tropical. The hubby had a rumrunner. Our drinks really helped set the mood along the beach. Alexia and I munched on bread, broccoli and pasta. [[BTW a good tip for kids (or adults), I usually stay away from kid's menus because they are mostly filled with unhealthy junk. Instead I order Alexia veggie side dishes or create my own dish for her with things I see on the menu. In this case I didn't see broccoli on the menu, but I asked if they had it and sure enough they did. I love restaurants that are accomodating like this. I recently read a story about pain in the butt restaurants who don't like customers to alter dishes in anyway or make special requests. I don't want to eat in those restaurants. I like Chefs who are happy to accomodate customers. They are after all in a service industry. I digress, but I do that to make the point that when you eat out don't be afraid. Usually you will encounter accomodating servers and Chefs like I did at Tiki Bar.]]
All in all a great trip filled with lots of fun and food. Hope you have similar stories from your summer vacas!
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