If you run a vegan restaurant and it has been struggling and you’re not sure why, go to Christopher’s Kitchen. If you think that your food can’t be delicious AND nutritious, go to Christopher’s Kitchen and learn how it can be. If you think that innovation and respect for the classics are incompatible, go to Christopher’s Kitchen and you’ll see why you’re wrong.
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in December, my wife and I took a drive up from Miami Beach to Christopher’s Kitchen (CK) in Palm Beach Gardens (Fellow Miamians, Palm Beach Gardens is a well manicured town north of West Palm Beach. You may find the lack of traffic and blaring horns there alarming, but try your best to enjoy it.). CK is in a mixed use shopping center, but at least when we were there, it seemed as though the center’s only use was CK.
The weather was ideal, so we chose to eat on the covered patio, but for warmer months, the inside is clean and modern while still having a cozy feel. We started with the Stacked Nachos, a perfect example of what it means to put a twist on a dish you know and love without twisting so far that the dish fails to resemble the original: The tortilla chips, black beans, guacamole, and salsa pay homage to the classic, whereas the cashew cheese and mole make them anything but.
Unlike similar items from similar restaurants, CK recognizes that a dish can have an appealing and artistic presentation without being a single oyster fork worth of food in the center of a Frisbee sized plate. Truth in advertising, the nachos were Stacked: Enough food for a light meal, if you’re so inclined, or an ideal appetizer for sharing for a hungry couple.
Next, we shared the house-made Veggie Burger with coleslaw and the Waffles. The burger – considerately served cut in half – was closer in portion to two burgers. It was made with beans as the base, and adorned with the usual fixings and cashew cheese. As many veggie burgers do, it had difficulty staying together, but those of us who’ve eaten enough of them should have developed the dexterity to keep it together. The burger probably wouldn’t win a competitive vegan burger battle, but it’s tasty, fresh, and filling, which is more than I can say about most of the other veggie burgers I’ve had in South Florida.
As for the waffles, I’ll start with their star: The vanilla cream. A bowl of that stuff on it’s own would have been satisfying enough, but complemented with the maple syrup and waffles, you’re in for a rare vegan treat. My wife and I have been to many, many vegan restaurants, and I don’t remember the last place that served waffles. CK’s waffles are gluten-free, so I suppose they should be graded on a curve. They were more bready than waffley, but for all the vegans tired of eating the frozen Van’s, CK’s waffles hit the spot.
For those of us in Miami and Broward, getting to CK is a haul, but well worth it. For those in Palm Beach, I’m guessing you’ve already been there (and back again), but if not, what are you waiting for?!