When we took off for Pennsylvania last weekend I did what I always do. I did some basic research. I simply typed “vegan Poconos” on Google to see what hits might lead me to some decent dining. That’s how I discovered Everybody’s Cafe, where we were able to stop by for lunch on the way to our hotel (and two days later on our way home).
That search also turned up a link to the Stabin Moykin Building. I clicked the restaurant tab and was intrigued. The menu indicated that “vegan and vegetarian options” were available. I IM’d a link to my husband. He wasn’t so sure. The menu had mostly meat (great for him) but no distinctly vegan options. And it was located in Jim Thorpe, PA, which was about 20 miles from our hotel. He wasn’t convinced driving 20 miles and being met with disappointment was the way to go. Good point. Saturday morning I was still obsessed about going — the building was so cool and I love farm to table restaurants. I picked up the phone to confirm they 1) were open for lunch and 2) could satisfy a vegan. Yes they were open for lunch. Yes “we can absolutely accommodate a vegan. Our chef will speak with you.” Sold! We hopped in the car for the 20 mile drive.
Looks like we found it!
We walked in and were enthralled! The building is owned by the artist Victor Stabin (you may know him as the man behind the 1980 KISS album cover “Unmasked”) and his wife, writer (and runner!) Joan Morykin. This isn’t a building. It’s a space, a place where things happen.
Victors’s art gallery is just to the left, a wide open loft-like space with stunning prints.
The restaurant, FLOW, was to the right. Clearly art is infused in everything. Here are two pieces that greet you as you enter the restaurant.
We walked into FLOW Restaurant and were surrounded by bright paintings, set on brick walls
and music loud enough to enjoy, but not overpowering. Jazz, blues, it all made sense for this unique space.
We sat down right next to a pile of books
Art, music, books? Pinch me! Oh, wait, this is a restaurant review — let’s move on to the food!
We took a look at the menu
and I decided that if the Vegetarian Pot Pie was vegan, I would have it. Dave ordered the grilled cheese sandwich with melted Brie, Swiss, and Cheddar, Hickory Smoked Bacon, Vine Ripened Tomatoes, On Sourdough Grilled In Duck Fat. (Harumpf) I only mention this –because I usually don’t refer to animal products on this blog — because really, it was a meat/animal-product heavy menu. BUT they were prepared, and delighted, to serve vegetarians and vegans as indicated on their menu and by their response to me.
I asked the server about the vegetarian pot pie. She was pretty sure it was not vegan but she checked with the chef.
The next thing I knew Executive Chef Zachary Pelliccio was at our table.
Chef Zachary may be one of the friendliest, kindest chefs that I have ever met! He confirmed that the pot pie was not vegan but that he would be happy to make me anything. I said great, whatever you want to make is perfect. He asked “what are you hungry for?” Huh? I’ve never been asked that by a chef. I really didn’t know how to respond. It was then that I realized that normally I’m so grateful that chefs at non-vegan restaurants are willing to work with me that I become somewhat submissive…”whatever you want to make…” So I didn’t say anything! He asked again and I said “well, I’m going to a wedding later today so I assume this will be the meal of the day so protein would be important to me.” The chef asked “do you like quinoa?” He had me at hello. But, it didn’t stop there. He asked “are you in the mood for sweet or for savory?” Seriously? Well, since you asked, savory. Off he went to create my meal.
As we sipped our wine and nibbled on some of the best fries I’ve ever eaten (and you know I’ve eaten many fries!)
we noticed Chef Zachary walk in the back door with a handful of produce. My husband said “I think that’s kale.” Goosebumps.
Chef Zachary soon came to the table with a plate of food. I asked “is there kale in it?” His face fell and he asked “you don’t like kale?” No, no, I assured him. You have no idea. Kale is my thing and I am so excited! He sat this plate of beauty in front of me.
Are you swooning? I was. Frankly, I was speechless. I asked Chef Zachary to tell me everything.
- A bed of quinoa and spring peas
- Layered with massaged kale, sautéed in white wine and tomatoes
- Topped off with two squash blossoms stuffed with cabbage and potato prepared in sake, brown sugar, garlic and ginger
- Three sauces were used to pull in sweet and savory: Thai chili sauce, stewed tomatoes with coconut milk and a sweet curry sauce
Readers, I was speechless. Every single morsel, every single flavorful combination in each bite simply took my breath away. This was, hands-down, the best vegan meal I have ever had at a restaurant (vegan or non-vegan, and yes I mean better than any I have had at Millennium in San Francisco or at Candle 79 in New York. I mean it.)
The chef came to check on me (I may or may not have been licking my plate, you decide),
and I told him that is was my best vegan dining experience at a restaurant. Ever. We had a chance to talk for a bit and he shared that he was vegetarian for some time and though not now, he is sensitive to his customers and wants to please them. He did.
I also had a chance to speak with one of the owners, Joan. Turns out she was the one who answered the phone and assured me that my vegan requests would be accommodated. I’d say!
Don’t walk into FLOW and assume you’ll get this exact dish. That’s the beauty of it. The chef made me a meal with foods I wanted, that I craved, and he took it from there, using the season’s bounty. Do walk in and announce yourself as a vegan.
The Stabin Moykin Building offers a fantastic restaurant, a gorgeous art gallery and a variety of classes (writing, photography, yoga). Joan and Zach, if you’re reading, I have an idea: How about a vegan weekend in your fabulous space? I’m seeing, oh I don’t know, 10-ish vegan food bloggers? We converge on you for a weekend of food writing and photography workshops and a few hours of culinary instruction in the kitchen with Zach. Wouldn’t that be awesome?! What do you think?
I will most certainly return to Jim Thorpe, PA just to have Chef Zachary Pelliccio prepare me another vegan meal!
268 W. Broadway
Jim Thorpe, PA 18229