FLOW Restaurant: It wasn’t lunch, it was an event!

by JL Fields on August 2, 2011

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!

The building:

The restaurant:

(like the pink bike rack on our car?)

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!)

Potato Frites: so good that I tried my own..will vlog them soon!

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!

FLOW
268 W. Broadway
Jim Thorpe, PA 18229
570.325.8200

FLOW Bar + Restaurant on Urbanspoon

***

I hope you enjoyed Lisa’s terrific Vegan 101 post yesterday: How to share your passion with compassion.

Today on Stop Chasing Skinny, a powerful Happiness. Found. story from Candice:  “You’re not fat, you have an athletic body.”  Please consider submitting your own story!

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  • VeganLisa

    Wow, what a fantastic experience! It seems like the chef quite enjoyed the opportunity to create something sensational for you. 

  • http://copycatmashup.blogspot.com Beth

    That dish looks amazing! Fabulous review – I enjoyed the entire story and would love to visit this place for the art!

  • http://theravegan.wordpress.com/ The RA Vegan

    Wow.  This sounds like an amazing experience and an fabulous meal.  One of my favorite restaurants before I was a vegan was a place called “The Starving Artists Cafe” in Little Rock Arkansas.  While I have not been there as a vegan (don’t live there anymore) I suspect they could accommodate a vegan.  And their vibe is similar to what you are describing.
    FLOW is only 4-5 hours from me.  Wow.  I may have to visit…..
    When a chef really listens to you the meal can be amazing.  So glad you went with your gut and visited!

  • http://www.sprint2thetable.com Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

    OMG – I am coveting yuor dish right now.  Those squash blossoms have left me speechless!

  • eva

    oh i am jealous of that restaurant! looks delish
    ps sorry i have not been commenting on your posts–i have been reading them while on my summer travels : )

    • http://jlgoesvegan.com JL

      You are so sweet to be reading while traveling! Thank you, my dear! And safe travels!

  • http://peanutbutterandginger.wordpress.com Lauren

    Wow!  That is one amazing plate of food and the chef sounds fantastic!  I’ve never been asked what I was in the mood for by the chef!  Too bad I don’t live near FLOW.. it sounds like my kind of place!

  • http://eathikesleeprepeat.blogspot.com Mountain Girl

    Amazing! That’s more than accommodating, that’s outright fabulous. I suppose that’s the difference between a “cook” who is there to deliver the menu as written, compared to a “chef” who is passionate about food and the customer experience. Hmmm, where do I find me one of those?

  • http://twitter.com/therawproject Christine

    Wonderful review, thanks! The kale dish looks simply amazing! I’ve yet to try squash blossoms.

  • http://twitter.com/therawproject Christine

    Wonderful review, thanks! The kale dish looks simply amazing! I’ve yet to try squash blossoms.

  • Elizabeth @ RunWithSneakers

    An amazing chef!  I hope there are more like him out there.

  • Susan

    I think they need to become snow birds and spend 6 months of the year with me in Florida! Your meal looks amazing and is right up my taste bud alley. So jealous!!

  • http://www.ordinaryvegetarian.com Sarah S.

    WOW!! What an awesome experience. If all chefs were HALF as awesome as that guy, we’d all be in good shape ;)

  • Anonymous

    I am so going to Jim Thorpe!

    • http://jlgoesvegan.com JL

      Let me know when! I bet I could talk Dave into a night in PA! He could ride his bike and I could take a yoga class at FLOW … and then drink, eat and be merry! :)

  • http://getskinnygovegan.blogspot.com Get Skinny, Go vegan.

    Yes, Swooning.  You are having a fantastic summer!

  • http://cookingwitht.blogspot.com Tanya

    You got me when he walked in the door with KALE!!! I have to go there now, if I’m ever in the area. This is awesome…I hope you sent him a link to your blog post!! 

    • http://jlgoesvegan.com JL

      Indeed, I did! I’m chefs here from folks who are unhappy. They need to hear raves from their fans!

  • sue

    That’s great! Usually chefs are very accomodating but he went above and beyond! I had this same experience in a small town in Germany. I was so afraid that the chef wasn’t going to understand what vegan was but she made me the most amazing meal and I’ll never forget it.

  • Bittofraw

    Wow you really scored! I’ve had some mon vegan chefs prep some amazing things fir me too, especially if they don’t hate us fir not worshipping butter. Side question: when your husband eats like that do you have a hard time kissing him? If you don’t want to answer I understand.

    • http://jlgoesvegan.com JL

      Bitt, I had to think about it for a minute because I’m not really sure of often I kiss him after meals. LOL But no I do not have a hard time kissing my husband. Incidentally, I smoked for many years (quit over eight years ago) and he always kissed me (thank goodness).

  • http://thelittleveganbaker.blogspot.com Steph

    That. Looks. Incredible. Totally swooning.

  • http://www.kidoing.com Jennifer @ kidoing!

    That looks so delicious! Thanks for opening my eyes to this restaurant.  It’s half way between my house and my parents, so it would make a nice meeting/stopping point.  I love that the chef is so accommodating.

    • http://jlgoesvegan.com JL

      How cool! I hope you stop by there (I would recommend calling first — I think it helps when they know a vegan is on her way! LOL)

  • http://www.forkyou-noforkyou.com Christina

    Did you ask him if he was single? Just sayin! That looks amazing!!!

    I’m waiting to get out of work now (yes reading blogs at work is fundamental) and go to the gym, my run will now consist of food fantasies lol!!

  • http://veggieecolife.wordpress.com Sara (The Veggie Eco-Life)

    Wohow! I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Even when there’s not a veggie meal, they just put a plate of salad in front of me (really, that happens 8/10 times). It looks amazingly delicious. 

  • Healthy Party Girl

    Well that just seems like a dream come true!

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  • Carl W

    Delicious looking meals. Make me so hungry, goin’ for some good chicken now. Truly, your plate should be on the menu, named after you!

    • http://jlgoesvegan.com JL

      I agree that it’s a dish that deserves to be on the menu. Delightful for the vegan or the omnivore.  Would love a JL-named dish! ;)

  • Carl W

    P. S. Gotcha’ all beat – I live in Allentown, PA, & go to ‘Thorpe regularly, mostly to swim. You all probably have the money, HOWEVER, I’m only 45 minutes away!  :-)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kstahler Kim Stahler

    Now, I hope they will put that on the menu. I have written a blog post on how chefs can get more vegan business at the New Vegan Age blog (it is not the first post up there however). What you had looks wonderful, but I prefer to skip the negotiating step (especially in front of family and colleagues!), though he was really sweet about it. Thanks for highlighting a really cool and little known area.

    • http://jlgoesvegan.com JL

      Interesting perspective. I didn’t consider it a negotiation whatsoever. I explained I was a vegan, he asked what I liked, and he served up a delicious meal. I call it excellent customer service! He has since hosted a 10-course vegan tasting dinner, which sold out, that I co-hosted. He’s awesome.

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