The Garden Truck Eatery, Jacksonville, Florida

The Garden Truck Eatery
2467 Faye Road
Jacksonville, FL 32226
(904) 518-3418

The Garden Truck Eatery
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by Michael Wilkins

 

If I told you we were going to have lunch at the Garden Truck, it would bring to mind images of a food truck located in a parking lot where one could stand outside to order food. In this case, The Garden Truck Eatery is a trendy restaurant located in North Jacksonville, Florida.

 

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I learned about this place through the North Florida Vegetarian Society here in Jacksonville. This Meetup group visits different restaurants in the area serving vegan options once a month. The Garden Truck Eatery was on their list one evening and we found it packed with happy hungry vegans and vegetarians. Ron and Gail surprised everyone by creating a sampling of most of their entire menu. Needless to say, everyone was delighted and vowed to return.

 

Roasted Veggie Panini

Roasted Veggie Panini

Two of the great experiences here are the Saturday brunch and the Friday themed dinners. Garden Truck’s mission is to create a memorable culinary experience with favorite American food. The food is plant-based, served in a modern upscale environment while providing excellent service. I have visited this restaurant on several occasions and I must tell you that it is one of my absolute favorites. Proprietors, Gail and Ron Patak, are wonderful people and a pleasure to be around. On any given day they can be found behind the counter creating culinary excellence for their customers. I have enjoyed sitting at the counter talking with Ron on many occasions while he prepares dishes for the customers.

 

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Gail began her career as an artist and you can see her creativity not only in the dishes but in the design of the restaurant as well as the decor. Her career path migrated back and forth between art and culinary adventurism. When Ron’s work took him to Alabama, Gail created a business catering to corporate events. It was during this time that Gail decided to move toward a plant-based lifestyle. This drove her to create savory vegan fair and dessert items for customers.

 

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In June 2014, she received an Instructor Certification from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She has also received an IEWP certification in event planning. According to Ron, Gail has a unique ability to be able to take regular recipes and convert them into plant-based creations.

Ron has had an impressive career in the restaurant business working with such notables as Roy Yamaguchi, Outback, and others. He has developed everything from casual dining experiences to ultra-fine dining. His experience in this area proved very useful when the couple decided to open The Garden Truck Eatery. One of the unique things about this eatery is that they are able to get locally grown produce virtually year-round for the dishes they create in the restaurant. They have a unique relationship with a hydroponic grower in the area who supplies them with virtually everything they need. This assures their menu doesn’t change very much based on seasonal availability.

 

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One of the menu items you will want to try is the sausage and peppers. Ron makes his own sausage in the restaurant and I have found it to be extremely tasty. I have bought some of this to take home and used it in my own culinary creations. It has been fun to share some of these experiences with him. One evening we made our own marinara sauce with the sausage, fresh mushrooms, sliced green pepper and quinoa spaghetti. I have to tell you that it was excellent, but what made it successful was the vegan sausage from The Garden Truck Eatery.

 

Chick-Un Salad Wrap With Veggie Chili

Chick-Un Salad Wrap With Veggie Chili

 

By now you must be wondering what did you eat and how di it taste? I will give you a few of the items here as I have sampled many of them. The Buffalo Chick-Un unwrap consists of vegan blackened chicken tossed with vegan mayonnaise, grapes and walnuts, mixed with fresh herbs and Himalayan pink salt, finished off with lettuce and tomato. All this can be had on your choice of bread or in a wrap. The sausage and peppers consists of their mildly spiced fennel sausage served with caramelized onions and sweet peppers topped with a spicy aioli sauce on Ciabatta bread. Their daily soups vary depending on what is being created that day. The sides such as the red bliss potato salad and green cabbage and granny apple slaw are also very tasty. On a recent trip home from picking my wife up at the airport we stopped at the Garden Truck Eatery for lunch.

 

Marinated Portobella Melt

Marinated Portobella Melt

 

I sampled the Marinated Portabella Mushroom Melt Panini which is Portabella mushrooms marinated in Garden Truck vinaigrette topped with “cheese”, smoky tomatoes, watercress and a spicy aioli pressed hot on a ciabatta Panini. Marjie tried the Roasted Vegetable and Artichoke Panini, layers of roasted zucchini, yellow squash, sweet red peppers with artichokes and spinach topped with spicy aioli and roasted garlic spread on sour dough bread pressed hot. We both opted for the Red Bliss potato salad. Sorry, I had to stop for a minute since my mouth is starting to water at the mear mention of the food. The smoothies are nothing short of wonderful, my favorite being the Apple Pear crisp. It consists of nondairy milk, apples, pears, garden truck granola, and fresh ginger with agave. If the crab cakes are on the menu that day, you definitely must try them. Vegan crab cakes you say, yes vegan crab cakes.

 

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If you are traveling in or near Jacksonville you must visit this establishment. I promise you will walk away satiated, happy and wanting to come back. The restaurant is located at 2467 Faye Rd. in North Jacksonville. Take the Alta Road exit (exit 40) off of I-295 North, head East across the railroad tracks and turn left at the light. The Garden Truck Eatery is located in the strip immediately to your right after you turn left at the light. This is an experience I know you will enjoy. Please tell Ron that you were sent there by Mike, the Diver.

 

Michael Wilkins is a respiratory therapist, an avid scuba diver and an accomplished photographer. He has been living with hepatitis C for more than two decades and is a cancer surviver. Michael has kept liver cancer at bay by employing the healing properties of a plant-based diet.

A year later, after a strict plant-based regimen, his tumor markers are normal and his MRIs are clean! This has made Michael more passionate about staying on a vegan diet. He has met lots of wonderful passionate people with amazing stories while walking down this path. Michael’s area is Northeast Florida, particularly the Jacksonville area. Contact Michael to share your restaurant finds, make comments, or just to say hello!

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