Garden Grille Cafe – One Of A Kind In All of Rhode Island
Remember that whole thing about me arriving in Worcester two days too early because of my amazing planning skills. Well, that not only gave me time to get some writing done, but it also gifted me a day trip to Pawtucket, RI to check out the only mostly vegan places in all of Rhode Island: Garden Grille Cafe and Wildflour (same owners).
So, I drove from Worcester to Pawtucket (about 45 minutes) and had a blast!! A number of you have been raving about Garden Grille Cafe for some time so my expectations were pretty high. Since I was only in Pawtucket for the day I decided to go for both lunch and dinner. Lunch at Garden Grille, snacks and Internet/writing at Wildflour for a few hours, clean up Gerty, quiet time, and then dinner back at the Grille. Ah, what a day!
Garden Grille Cafe – 90-ish% vegan
According to their menu everything can be made vegan and at a glance it looks like most items already are.
727 East Ave.
Pawtucket, RI 02860
It’s not entirely obvious from the pic below but the decor in this place is pretty neat. In that far corner, to the left there is this really cool wooden tree art that works its way up the corner of the bar and branches out across the ceiling. You can see some of the “leafy” part (that darker wood at the top there) in the photo, and some of the “branches” too (the lighter wood with the holiday lights wrapped around).
They’ve also got these really intricate, artsy light fixtures around the restaurant. My favorites are the ones that line the top of the bar. Each one is slightly different but they have a similar look. They’re made of some kind of light metal that’s been curled, cut, wrapped, and entwined with other pieces. It’s hard to explain. But just really beautiful.
Here we have the Side of Sautéed Greens – wilted, garlic-y kale, sprinkled with peanuts. Not terribly oily, perfectly salted, and could have been eaten with another side to create one full meal. More than enough and very tasty.
I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever had a traditional tuna melt. Either way I was feelin’ it so here we have Garden Grille Cafe’s Veggie Tuna Melt (ask for the vegan version). The first thing I noticed, when I picked up one half of the sammy was the melted Daiya cheese and the little crispy pieces of it playfully peeking out around the edges. Mmmmm cheesiness. The Daiya was melted to the inside of both pieces of bread. Brilliant!! The Melt also had chunks of onion, thinly sliced pickle, and layers of spinach, along with the peppery, onion mixture of goodness that made up the ‘tuna’ part of the sammy. The bread was lightly grilled and perfectly complimented the contents of the overall Melt. Loved this!
While I was waiting for the food to arrive I glanced around to see what other guests had ordered. On this particular day it appeared as though the Seitan Mushroom Burger was pretty popular. Nearly every other plate that came out had one of these burgers on it. Next time, perhaps. :)
I started with the Chipotle Seitan. Holy friggin’ wow. I loved that there were slightly crispy parts, especially around the edges of each individual piece of seitan. It was also unbelievably moist, tender, and chewy (in a good way). It also had the slightest bit of tang and when dipped in the mustard/horseradish-like sauce, look out! The sauce beautifully complimented these little delights. My friend, Demetrius Bagley wasn’t kidding when he said, “[Garden Grille Cafe’s] seitan appetizer is one of the best eats ever!”
These are the Charred Leek Risotto Cakes – (!!!!!) <– this is my expression for contained excitement. :) This dish featured mashed cashew-parsnip puree with pumpkin seed oil, brussels sprouts, oyster mushrooms, and shallots. This was a layerful masterpiece! Each tier unveiled a new exciting treat that perfectly complimented the one prior. The base layer is the mashed cashew-parsnip puree (so good!), followed by the shallots and mushrooms, brussels sprouts, and leek risotto cakes on top. MmmmMM!
The mashed cashew-parsnip puree was rich, delicious, buttery, and light. The Risotto Cakes seemed to have a hint of rosemary. They were soft, lightly browned and a little sweet. One of my favorite parts of the dish were the oyster mushrooms. I wish they had a more prominent role (and that there were more of them) because they really were an amazing part of this flavorful and diverse meal. Every individual flavor in this dish worked so well with the others. It’s quite brilliant, really. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy this one is to get a little bit of every single thing on your fork and eat all together at once! :)
For dessert I had the Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Cake. I know. It sounds amazing, right? I was immeditely drawn to this cake for obvious reason (ummm chocolate. say no more) but what really sold me on it was overhearing someone telling their server what they thought of it: “This is the best thing I’ve ever had. If I had a blog I’d write a whole post about it.” Haha.. naturally, I couldn’t resist.
The frosting was really wonderful. It was light and wasn’t overpoweringly peanut buttery. The cake itself was kind of fluffy, which was a pleasant surprise. Not too heavy or cake-y. What I like most about this cake is how the chocolate and peanut butter flavors worked together instead of fighting for the lead. Neither flavor was more noticeable than the other. This was a happy marriage, if I ever saw one. There may have also been a hint of lemon. I’m not certain on this but either way it wasn’t a bad thing by any means. Very good cake!
Some other popular dinner orders that night were the nachos and the butternut squash quesadilla. Only have sat in two times (on the same day) it was still so apparent that Garden Grille has its regulars. Devoted customers + consistently delicious food = booming biz.