Captain Jane Finds More Healthy Eating in Key West — But with Beer on Tap!
Claiborne “complained” in his introduction to my recent review of the organic health food restaurant “help yourself” that it doesn’t offer Mount Gay Rum…
Well, Claiborne, since you mentioned it…. It just so happens that the human crew of Lady Jane just ate at a Key West health food restaurant where you don’t have to bring your own. The sign in the window says it all: Beer, Vegan, Vegetarian, BBQ Unwing Dings.
How Key West loves internal contradiction! Tawdry bars, fried fish, restaurants with no complete walls and some with none at all… boozing until the wee hours and then somewhere else, not so much in full view are the health food folks, classical music concerts in the Episcopal church and yoga on the beach… We present to you, on the health food side, complete with internal contradiction, The Cafe.
Its specialty? Organic food and organic microbrews and wine. Here you can sin — organically. The perfect place for a mixed marriage — where one partner needs beer and one needs to eat organic and vegan.
Vegan items are clearly marked with asterisks; for those who need animal protein, there is fresh tuna and mussels, and if I’m remembering correctly the specials when I was there included local shrimp. Gorgonzola, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, feta cheddar are among the cheeses that can be added to sandwiches.
If you are vegetarian, or even hardcore vegan, this is a find. The Cafe makes its own seitan (an Asian-style high-protein wheat gluten that is often used as a “mock” meat) and it’s chewy and the best I’ve tasted — it bears no relationship to the packaged kind I’ve bought in supermarkets. The veggie burger is made with legumes, carrots, broccoli, mushroom, scallions and sunflower seeds — this is no skinny pre-packaged Boca Burger. Crisp outside and yummy on garlic Ciabatta bread. Falafel is excellent and the salad elements fresh. The stir fry is huge, especially if you add a protein, the brown rice perfectly done and the peanut sauce we tried was excellent, not too sweet and not overpowering — it had just the right hint of peanut to make it unctuous, not deadly. There are vegetable stir fry dishes, sandwiches, salads, pizzas and a category called “Food Food” that includes BBQ tofu, kung pao tofu, polenta cakes, seared yellowfin tuna, udon bowl, mussels, quiche, lasagna and a pasta of the day.
Everything we tried was first rate, cooked with care and good fresh ingredients. We’ve been here three times and still like it.
The Cafe is located at 509 Southard Street, just off Duval. It is open Monday through Saturday, 11 to 10 PM. http://theCafeKW.com
S/V Lady Jane