I was recommended to The Present Moment Cafe , by a fellow blogger I know, Inga from Taste Memory. She is a resident of Jacksonville, but comes all the way to Saint Augustine to eat at The Present Moment. Based on that alone, I really wanted to try it as soon as she mentioned it, because she and I have a similar food philosophy – one that I share on my other blog, The Leftover Queen. which is all about local, fresh and seasonal eating. So at her recommendation, I knew that this was a place that I could go and eat and feel good about it.
Now the day we decided to go to Present Moment, it was hectic. I wasn’t exactly sure where it was and we were starving. Two things that generally don’t go well together in this family. So when Roberto inquired about the type of cuisine and I said it was a vegetarian and raw food place, his face fell. Now neither of us are strangers to this type of food, in fact we love it and eat it frequently – but when Roberto is starving he wants something hearty and filling and he was sure that this meal was not going to satisfy his hunger.
The owner of Present Moment, Yvette Schindler describes the cuisine of her restaurant as Kind Cuisine:
“Fresh Organic Living Foods”. I really enjoyed my experience at Present Moment on so many levels. One level is that as soon as I entered there was a good energy to the place – it was beautifully and colorfully furnished, the big front windows were letting sunshine fill the dining area, the smells wafting from the kitchen were wholesome and good, and everyone was smiling. I felt comfortable there. The place was pretty full for a weekday late lunch crowd and there were people of all ages as well – from infants to seniors and everything in between. All really good signs.
The next thing I noticed was of course the menu – everything on it was thoughtfully done – it was an amazing array of combinations and flavors. That is what I really love about this type of cuisine – the absolute creativity it takes to create dishes using only raw, vegetarian, seasonal foods and making the dishes into something everyone can understand and enjoy. This takes a lot of time, energy and experimentation on the part of the chef and menu creators. I feel that intention is definitely felt when you eat the food. There is a strong connection between the cook and the taste of the food and it is all based on the exchange of energy. If you are not familiar with these theories, you can check out the book I wrote about it, The Secret Energy of Love Through Food.
Next on my radar was the presentation – the food, when it came out on the plates was artfully displayed – everything was fresh and colorful. For my meal, I chose the salad special of the day -
it was a marinated mushroom salad with macadamia nut “cheese” and avocado on a bed of greens. It was crunchy and delicious. Roberto went for the Sunlight Burger
- a veggie burger made of walnuts, sunflowers, almonds, carrots and zucchini, with a slice of pine nut “provolone” accompanied by a side salad and chips. Was he satisfied? Why yes. In fact he felt very full after eating his meal and couldn’t stop raving about how tasty it was. We also shared a “Chocolate Milk” – Cacao, almond milk and agave nectar. It was good, but probably our least favorite component of the meal. It was not very cold and had a very thin consistency. But the taste was good – although Roberto would have preferred it were sweeter.
Another thing I noticed about Present Moment is that even though we were there for lunch almost all the patrons were ordering desserts after their meals. This is not typical at restaurants anymore and even less so during lunch – but like I said before, all the food on the menu is not only extremely tasty, but also guilt free on various levels -so why not go for dessert? We did, and I can honestly say it is one of the best things I have eaten in a very long time. We went for the Blueberry Parfait with Hemp Praline.
It was a gigantic martini glass filled with layers of Vanilla-coconut crème, blueberry compote and buckwheat crispies served with a hemp praline. This dessert is pure genius – sweet, satisfying and creamy. With the little buckwheat crispies thrown in, the dessert had a really great mouth feel too. Writing about it now is making me crave one all over again! After the meal, we both felt really revived and full of energy.
So if you are not familiar with raw foods,you really need to check this place out. It is a little on the pricey side, but when you factor in the philosophy of the restaurant, the intention and attention to the food, it makes sense. You get what you pay for. This is something that really holds true for this town. If you want to try something really different and creative, and exceptionally yummy, you need to try Present Moment. If you want to take some home with you, there is a market next store that sells all kinds of organic products.
As the say on their website: ” The Present Moment Café is an opportunity to be good to your body, mind and soul. “