I’m foodie. Those who know me know this might even be an understatement. I was raised eating great food and going to the best restaurants. My family uses food as a way to bring everyone together. And most people can’t turn down my mom’s cooking :)
I want to share with you some experiences I have had at local restaurants, both at home in Maryland and at school in Florida. I’ll give you my honest opinion and hope it helps you decide where to eat.
Sure, St. Augustine, Fla is filled with historic landmarks, nationally ranked locations for beauty and famous restaurants. But, behind all the hustle and bustle of tourists and over-priced trolley rides, are places the locals cherish.
When my parents visited me this semester we made a plan to try as many restaurants as we could that none of us had been to already. The Present Moment Café was one place that’d I’d been wanting to try for quite some time.
The first time I heard about this restaurant was last summer. I was floating around in the pool in my neighborhood and somehow struck up a conversation with two people – Hugo and Cindy (if I remember their names correctly). It all started, because of Hugo’s accent, clearly from New York and it reminded me of home.
We started talking about food (of course) when Hugo asked me, “Have you ever been to The Present Moment Café?” I hadn’t and as he told me about the fresh, organic, vegan menu, I was intrigued. I’m a meat eater usually, but I’m also a very good eater. I’ve had opportunities in my life to eat some really great food and I will pretty much try anything once.
And it turns out that Hugo is the baker at The Present Moment Café and Cindy works there as well (I can’t quite remember what her job is there…this was over a year ago…give me some credit!)
The Present Moment Café was officially on my bucket list. I continued to work and relax by the pool for the rest of the summer. The Present Moment Café stuck in the back of my mind, though. Soon the summer ended, school started and so did the piles of homework and projects. I’m not really sure where the time went, but it was winter break, I headed home for a month and returned for another semester.
Still in the back of my mind, I anticipated my parents’ visit at the beginning of March and promised myself that I would wait no longer! And now, looking back, I can’t believe I waited that long.
Oh, sweet deliciousness. Where to start?!
How about the atmosphere, since that is where it all begins when you walk into a restaurant.
(please, click on the photos to enlarge them… you won’t be sorry :-))
The stained-glass windows, the fresh flowers on each table, the rustic furniture. The salt was even pink, how awesome is that?! Each table was set and a canteen of cucumber water sat in the center of each table.
It felt warm and cozy. I already had a good feeling about this place. We sat at a table in the center of the small restaurant and I couldn’t help but continue to look around. It was beautiful. Everything went together perfectly.
Once I finally gathered myself enough to look at the menu, we ordered soup, appetizers and our lunches. Yepp, three-course lunch. Go big or go home, right?
First, the soup and appetizer. I’m a food mooch when it comes to going out to eat. So I let the others order what they want “as long as I can have a bite” :-) And my No. 1 rule is that no one at the table can order the same thing. That’s just plain boring.
My mom ordered this soup. It’s a cooked root soup, emphasis on the cooked since The Present Moment Café focuses on raw delicacies. This soup was mild and subtle but absolutely delicious. It was a special the day we went, so it’s not on the regular menu. This soup is perfect for a chilly day or a day when you’re feeling under the weather – it has that feel to it, if you know what I mean.
This is the soup my dad ordered. We have been trying to figure out what the exact name of it is, because it was also a special the day we went. This was a cold tomato based soup with avocado and tomato and a “cashew sour cream” because the restaurant doesn’t use dairy products. It was such a refreshing soup. I can’t decide if it’s because it was served cold or if the freshness did it…or maybe it was a combination of the two. It was delicious nonetheless. A little heavier that the cooked root soup but definitely more of a summer soup. My dad practically licked the bowl clean!
Our appetizer came out with the soup. Some friends from work raved about the “Holy Guacamole & Salsa” from the Present Moment and insisted that I try it.
I’m rarely left speechless. I mean it takes A LOT to find me with nothing to say. This guacamole did it. My family eats a lot of guacamole. Avocados are amazing. No guacamole is the same. Even when I make it, it’s never been the same twice. The Holy Guacamole from the Present Moment was so fresh. The cilantro to avocado ratio was perfect. And my favorite part about this guacamole was that you could taste the avocado. It wasn’t drown out by other spices or ingredients and you could really taste its flavor. And those weird looknig chips you see in the photo are dehydrated tortilla chips, made at the restaurant. They have a very hollow texture…if that’s even possible, but that’s the only way I can describe it. They weren’t really salty which, again, complimented the guacamole perfectly. The salsa was good. It seemed a little standard and, honestly, after the knock-my-socks-off guacamole, it was pretty expected. This restaurant serves such fresh food and, only two courses in, I was sold! :)
Now, I hope you’re sold enough to continue reading about our main courses :P
This is the Kale Wrap with veggies and an almond ginger dipping sauce that my mom ordered. The almond dipping sauce was the best part of this wrap. The veggies inside were as fresh as the other dishes we had so far but the kale somewhat set the wrap back from, what I thought, was it’s full potential. The kale was very thick and too tough. Without the dipping sauce, the wrap was a little bland. Though the veggies were fresh, they somehow lacked flavor. After the wrap was gone, we noticed there was an option to order the wrap with spinach instead of kale. This would definitely make the wrap better and, if I were to order it again, I would order it with a spinach wrap!
I ordered the Tacos of Life. MORE KNOCK-MY-SOCKS-OFF GUACAMOLE. Oh boy! Yum! Now, look closely at that picture. This wasn’t what I was expecting when I ordered tacos, and I’m sure you’d be in the same boat if you were me but I was not disappointed! I actually asked the server how she suggests I eat it for maximum enjoyablility :P Inside each taco is one scoop of guacamole, one scoop of salsa and one scoop of pine-nut chili. Again, no meat because of the vegan menu. I ate the first taco using the dehydrated tortilla chips so I could taste each part of the taco separately. The pine-nut chili was flavorful, nutty and filling. Even the little scoops in the tacos made me feel full as if I had eaten a taco with meat in it. The second taco, I mixed the three ingredients together and truly enjoyed the way the flavors blended together. Definitely a great choice for lunch at the Present Moment!
This is the Creamy White Truffle Pesto Pasta that my dad ordered and definitely my favorite lunch I got to try that day! This fresh zucchini pasta, made at the restaurant, was amazing. It had a subtle zucchini flavor and the exact texture and consistency of pasta. It was perfectly covered with pesto and cured tomatoes and topped with pine nut “parmesan.” The pasta was served cold. It was refreshing and light and loaded with flavor. The side salad was the perfect combination with the pasta. I definitely recommend this lunch dish :)
This was such a great experience. The menu was something like I had never seen before. I was so excited to try vegan delicacies and I’m glad I did. The atmosphere of the restaurant really pulled everything together. If you are in St. Augustine, this is definitely a place to go.
And next time I will try Hugo’s famous vegan muffins :)
Have you ever been to a vegan restaurant? Have you ever been to the Present Moment Cafe? Tell me about your experience! :)
Thank you so much for reading!