Gathering Café In Charleston, SC, Casual Fine Dining with Vegan Options!

 
 
 
by Danielle Bussone

Travel-weary and ravenous, Rich was searching the web for a place to eat near our hotel in north Charleston when I happened to look up from my steering wheel and noticed a sign that read “Gathering Café.” My car just steered its way into the parking lot. We were greeted by our friendly waitress, Olivia, and we grabbed an empty table. Casual and understated, the restaurant decor belies the gustatory delights awaiting discovery.

Gathering Cafe Exterior

Olivia

Interior 2

 

Gathering Café serves animal dishes for the most part, but we were thrilled to learn the menu has a number of vegan options We quickly discovered Olivia to be knowledgeable and accommodating. To start, we ordered the Carrot-Ginger Soup and the House Salad, which we shared while awaiting our main course. The salad consisted of fresh, delicate baby greens, fresh tomatoes, carrots and cucumber tossed in a lemon vinaigrette and served with a crisp sesame seed cracker. It tasted… well, like spring.

 

House salad & Carrot-Ginger Soup

The Carrot-Ginger Soup was sweet and spicy and utterly delicious. I was beginning to get the picture. The chef at Gathering Café certainly understands flavor. There is a vegan falafel sandwich and vegetarian dishes in which the cheese can be removed if you prefer. We opted for the clearly plant-based options.

Oven Roasted Chickpea Cakes

I ordered the Oven-Roasted Chickpea Cakes. Served on a bed of chickpeas, roasted peppers and tomatoes and topped with perfectly prepared fresh asparagus, the combination of flavors was out of this world.

Rich had trouble choosing between the two rice bowls, so we resolved the dilemma by ordering both (taking one back to the hotel for later).  The Panang Curry boasted carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, mushrooms and ginger stewed in coconut milk and served with brown rice.

Panang Curry

The Teriyaki Rice Bowl comprised of mixed vegetables, avocado, and sesame seeds, was flavored with, you guessed it, teriyaki sauce.

Teriaki Bowl

Finally, we finished with a delightful refreshing fruit sorbet that was just the right combination of tart and sweet. These are not on the menu but are offered as seasonal specials in a variety of flavors.

Sorbet

Do yourself a favor the next time your are in Charleston. It’s worth the drive out of the city to visit this charming little restaurant to enjoy some of the best food in the area.

    

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She is author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

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Vegan Options at Happy Trails Café, Alvarado Station on the Virginia Creeper Trail!

 

 

 

by Danielle Bussone

Happy Trails Café in Alvarado Station, Virginia is smack dab in the middle of the Virginia Creeper Trail between Abingdon and Damascus, VA.  The famous Virginia Creeper Trail is named after a railroad that ran between Abingdon, VA to Whitetop Mountain in North Carolina, spanning three states on what is now 34 miles of biking, hiking and horseback riding trails.

What is unique about Happy Trails is that they offer vegan options! Since there isn’t a single place in Abingdon or Damascus where we can find a plant-based meal, it is rather astonishing to find something to eat in this out of the way diner. The owner, Gwyn Hill, is a darling. Her partners/co-workers are her husband, Travis and her son, Logan, her parents, Loretta and Harvey Johnston, and her mother-in-law, Fran Hill, making it truly a family affair.

 

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There are several plant-based options on the menu and Gwen often offers vegan specials. The first thing I noticed was the sign for boiled peanuts. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’m a boiled peanut fanatic. Rich and I scarfed down an order while awaiting the rest of our meal.

 

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We couldn’t think of celebrating the Fourth of July without the traditional hotdog, vegan of course, with relish and sweet onions and a side of fried chips.

 

Vegan Hot Dog

Vegan Hot Dog

 

We ordered the Big Honkin’ Veggie Wrap, a flour tortilla layered with house-made hummus and stuffed full of fresh vegetables from local farmers and dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.

 

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The Big Honkin’ Hummus Wrap

 

On a subsequent visit, I discovered I could replace the chips with a fresh side salad for a healthier version.

 

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The Big Honkin’ Hummus Wrap with a side salad instead of chips

 

Rich and I also shared a Loaded Veggie Wrap, which is wrapped in gluten-free rice paper, stuffed with fresh veggies and served wit a lemon-vinaigrette. This wrap is made surprisingly sweet by the house-made sweet onions prepared by Gwen from a prized family recipe. It really is something special.

 

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On our next visit we tried the Veggie Quinoa Salad, crisp, garden fresh vegetables topped with the now famous pickled sweet onions.

 

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Veggie-Quinoa Salad

 

We enjoyed our meals in a small dining area next to the kitchen. Outside are plenty of tables underneath a sunscreen as well as numerous bike racks and plenty of parking. Across the street is a public park next to a lovely stream. There are pavilions with tables for dining and even swings to relax in underneath.

 

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Small indoor seating area with lots of tables outside, plus a park across the street bordering a stream with covered eating areas.

 

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This day’s veggie special was a veggie burger which comes with two sides. The menu board also features a delicious juice of beets, apples, carrots and ginger. I watched as one customer’s eyes popped open wide as took a sip from her friend’s glass. She immediately ordered one for herself.

 

Happy Trails Café is perfectly located and is a welcome oasis in the middle of our 17-mile bike ride. Rich and I are becoming regular customers and, so far, Gwyn and her charming family do not disappoint.

 

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle  directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

 

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Danielle’s Meatless BBQ pulled ‘pork’ made from Jackfruit WJHL 11 Daytime Live

 
 
 

Danielle Bussone demonstrates how to make Vegan “Pulled Pork!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note from Danielle: In the video I misspoke and said to add 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar. It is actually 1/4 cup! Oops! 🙂 Full recipe attached.

 

Ingredients:
2 16oz cans Green Jackfruit in brine
¼ cup Light Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Southwestern Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder or Chipotle in adobe sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 – 1½ cups Barbecue Sauce (see Time For Change) or any commercial BBQ sauce

 

Method:
Drain and rinse in cold water. With a fork pull the wedges of jackfruit apart until it resembles pulled pork. (It is much easier if you microwave the jackfruit for 30 seconds or steam it in a tablespoon or two of water first.)
Transfer to a covered skillet or sauté pan.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring frequently.

 

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to products I use that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.

 

 

Jackfruit can be found in most Asian and Indian markets, probably at a better price than you can find on-line. However, if you don’t have these markets in your area or prefer the convenience of delivery to your door, this is good option.

 

 

This is a brand that I enjoy and is a reasonable price. I haven’t found an organic source for this product to date. This product doesn’t have high-glucose corn syrup and is overall the best among the available brands within the same price rang. You may be able to find this at you local grocers but, if not, this is an option!

 

 

This may be a better choice. Simply Organic brand is widely available at most grocers, but you may have a little more difficulty finding the chipotle powder. When buying hot peppers, it is important to find them organically grown if at all possible because many of them are sprayed with pesticides which also contain neurotoxins. Better to be safe than sorry!

 

Liquid Smoke is far less toxic than actually smoking your food over smoldering wood coals. A little of this goes a long way and is an essential ingredient if you want your dish to really taste like pork without resorting to cooking animal protein. This product is widely available in your local markets. The remaining ingredients can also be found at most markets, so there is no need to list them here.

 

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Green Truck Neighborhood Pub Serves Up Vegan Options In Savannah, GA

 

 

 

by Danielle Bussone

 

 

Green Truck Neighborhood Pub isn’t just a great place to find a plant-based meal in Savannah, it is a community experience. We arrived early for lunch on a Wednesday and the place was already packed. Rich and I were disheartened to learn there was a 30 minute waiting list, just our luck. We were en route to another destination and couldn’t hang around. But, just as we were about to leave the waiter mentioned there were two seats at the bar. Bingo! We were seated immediately.

I was surprised to find Green Truck so busy considering how large the dining area is. We were elbow to elbow at the bar where our orders were taken and place settings appeared out of thin air.

 

Green Truck Exterior

 

Green Truck

The Original Green Truck; the Namesake, a 1965 Chevy Stepside is a metaphor for hard work, a long road, and enjoying the journey.

 

There is a pride that exudes from the staff and for good reason. This is truly a community effort. Local farms provide grass fed hormone-free beef (still a boo from all us vegans) as well as  produce in season.  Local Perc Coffee, provides the coffee served at Green Truck. The furniture, bulletin boards and booths were either made from local artisans, or were salvaged. Local print shops created the menus and t-shirts, the beer comes from artisan brewers within the US, and everything that can be recycled or composted from restaurant is. And if this kind of social responsibility isn’t enough to tempt you to eat here, check out the menu.

 

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The Mighty Veg With a Side of Vegan Chili

 

Rich ordered the Mighty Veg Burger topped with sliced tomato, avocado, grilled onions and red pepper with a side of homemade vegan Chili, dill pickle and crostini. The breads, salad dressings and sauces are made in house, including the ketchup. It was a beautiful presentation and OMG delicious! We always divide our orders so we can enjoy the entire meal. The burger was plump, flavorful, and moist, and did not fall apart as I bit into it.

 

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The Mighty Veg Up Close and Personal

 

I ordered the Veggie Reuben, which is also the Mighty Veg burger sandwiched between slices of homemade Rye and topped with zesty Saurkraut and homemade Thousand Island dressing. I ordered a salad on the side. Normally it comes with Swiss cheese, but we opted to omit it. It wasn’t your typical Reuben, but it was really good. As usual, we divided the sandwiches and shared, so we both won.

 

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The Vegan Reuben Close-up

 

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The Vegan Reuben With A Side Salad

 

Green Truck doesn’t have a lot of veggie options, but what they do have is outstanding. If you are ever in the Savannah area, it will be worth the effort to check out Green Truck Neighborhood Pub.

 

Green Truck Interior

Interior

 

Green Truck Micro Brews

Bar offers a selection of 30 micro brews in bottles and 6 on tap From American craft breweries owned and operated in the United States, as well as a number of wines in bottles or by the glass.

 

green truck image

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The Garden Truck Eatery, Jacksonville, Florida

 

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

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Spotlighting Candle 79 — Plant-Based Dining At Its Finest!

 

by CD Davidson-Hiers

Candle 79 Exterior

Candle 79 Evening Exterior

 

Candle 79 is one branch of a triad of higher-end restaurants in New York City that offers a selection of organic vegan options. The entire menu is vegan, and that was a novelty I had to quickly adjust to after asking Elena, the manager, “so…your ice creams don’t have dairy, right?” She smiled and said again that dairy is an animal product, so no.

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