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Restaurant Review: The Present Moment Cafe

May 7, 2010

Today I bring you a restaurant review from the last day of my visit to Jacksonville, Florida. However, I will not be reviewing a Jacksonville restaurant. This is because Jacksonville is a desolate wasteland as far as vegetarian—or even vegetarian friendly—restaurants go. So, for my last day down south, (Jacksonville) Caitlin and I went to nearby St. Augustine, to a little place I found called The Present Moment Cafe.

Although you wouldn’t know it from their website or storefront, The Present Moment is a 100% raw, 100% vegan (and I believe 100% organic) restaurant (actually, I shouldn’t vouch for these “100%”s; there may be a few select items on their menu that don’t fit the bill, but I can confidently say that they’re at least 90% those things). The space is cute and cozy, easily working as both a nice cafe to go to spend one’s afternoon and a casual restaurant to enjoy one’s evening. But I know that what you’re really here for is the food. So let me give you the lowdown (and apologies for the darkness of the photos).

We started off with an appetizer plate: Holy Guacamole & Salsa, served with dehydrated corn tortilla chips. The guacamole was indeed divine, the salsa was good, and the chips were excellent. The biggest downside to this plate was the fact that they only gave us 6 chips. Now I know that dehydrated chips don’t come cheap, so a plateful of chips was out of the question, but there was definitely more dip than there was chip to dip it with, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for them to have provided us with some other dippers (vegetables, for example). As things were, we ended up just eating the remaining guac with our spoons (which was, of course, still absolutely delicious).

This is the Present Moment Salad, (Jacksonville) Caitlin’s entree. It normally consists of avocado, red pepper, tomato, onion, sprouts, and citrus dressing, but (Jacksonville) Caitlin had them hold some of that off. I didn’t try this, but judging from the ingredients, it seemed like a pretty tasty salad, and very reasonably priced at $7.

This was my entree: Portabella Croquettes with Zucchini Pasta & Caesar Salad. What a plate! I chose this mostly for the croquettes, which were very very good, but to my disappointment smaller than golf balls and only two in number. The Caesar Salad, though, was surprisingly good and plentiful. And the Zucchini Pasta, served with marinara sauce, was satisfying, but eerily similar to Gena’s Zucchini Marinara, which I’ve made for myself before, and so not as exciting.

Last but not least, I got myself one of their smoothies, the “Universe Drink”, which consisted of cacao, goji berry, maca, and banana. It tasted mostly like cacao, though, and I wasn’t that impressed with this in the end.

Overall, though, The Present Moment Cafe scores well on both taste and atmosphere in my opinion. Despite the drawbacks I’ve mentioned, the menu is varied enough that I would definitely want to come back if I were in the area. Even more so, in fact, since this is certainly the only restaurant of its kind in probably 100 miles. In addition, I think the menu was generally cheaper than other raw restaurants I’ve been to, which is always nice.

That being said, I would like in closing to draw attention to what was definitely the biggest downside to our dining experience: the service. Granted, it was late on a Tuesday evening (not exactly prime time for business) and so there was only one server working, but she was just barely doing so. From flirting instead of waiting on our table (or any of the several other diners), to forgetting my drink order (though she did give it to me on the house), our waiter made our night a much less pleasant experience. Thankfully, the food sort of made up for it, but I can only hope that if you go to The Present Moment Cafe, someone else is working that night. Someone more, should we say, “in the moment”.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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