Friday, December 15, 2017
Restaurant News

We Tried That: Cider Press Cafe's new grab-and-go offerings

What we tried: Raw vegan sit-down restaurant Cider Press Cafe (601 Central Ave., St. Petersburg) recently opened an attached grab-and-go cafe with its own entrance, offering pre-prepared lunch items at a lower price point, plus cold-pressed juices, coffee and baked goods. Items range from $5.99 to $7.99. The new cafe is open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., though customers can access items from the grab-and-go cooler and pay at the bar any time the main restaurant is open.

How it went: There is a serious lack of grab-and-go options in downtown St. Petersburg. As someone who regularly rushes out the door in the morning while phoning in a frantic breakfast takeout order, or finds myself on the sidewalk at lunchtime wondering where I can get food quickly (too often turning to a pizzeria for a slice, sometimes unheated to save time), I was very excited to hear what Cider Press was doing. Not for any kind of dietary reasons (I do enjoy meat and dairy), but because I'm generally unprepared and in a hurry.

The convenience was appealing enough, but after trying almost all of their lunch offerings, I have yet to find one that isn't also tasty, fresh and totally satisfying, even for a meat-eater like myself. As an added bonus — and maybe this is science, or maybe it's all in my head — the meatless lunches have left me returning to work more alert and feeling less like I could use a nap.

All items come from a cooler, and most are meant to be eaten cold. The best of the bunch is the Health Club, a tall sandwich with strips of house-made eggplant "bacon," oven-roasted Chick'n Tofurkey, lettuce and tomato, between three slices of Good Seed bread. Another favorite is the Sonoma Jack sandwich, which is a textural delight with jackfruit (it's mildly sweet, and kind of like if an apple and pineapple had a baby) standing in for chicken in their version of a Sonoma chicken salad, plus walnuts, apple, cranberries, celery and egg-free Just Mayo on a dense, vegan croissant.

The vegan gyro really benefits from a minute in the microwave, and the seasoning and texture of the "gyro" (mostly wheat gluten and soy protein) makes for a fairly satisfying approximation of actual gyro meat, wrapped in a soft pita, though I do wish the tzatziki came on the side so I could keep it cold as I heated up the rest of it. That hot-cold mouthfeel is part of what makes a great gyro.

I found the tofu "egg" salad sandwich indistinguishable from one made with real eggs. If you want to cut out the bread, both the egg and Sonoma Jack salads are regularly available on their own.

Cider Press' 9 a.m. opening time is too late for me to get breakfast, so I haven't been able to try their bagels with vegan cream cheese, but based on their other excellent offerings, I wouldn't hesitate to give them, or their coffee by Brewing Good Coffee Co. out of Chicago (motto: "drink coffee, save animals"), a shot should they start opening earlier.

The verdict: The new grab-and-go offerings from Cider Press Cafe are a solid lunch option for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Contact Christopher Spata at [email protected] Follow @SpataTimes.

 
Comments
Ranking America’s top 10 chain restaurants. How does your favorite stack up

Ranking America’s top 10 chain restaurants. How does your favorite stack up

People love to pick on chain restaurants. Like used car salesmen, the mass feeders are easy targets. Their uniformity and ubiquity seem to go against a culture increasingly bent on personal customization. Indeed, it has been a rough past few years f...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Noel Cruz seemed remarkably chill. As did his partner Kerem Koca. All around them in the Station House building in St. Petersburg, workers pounded the last nails, bartenders unpacked boxes of glassware and jewel-toned bottles of Amari, and the kitche...
Published: 12/12/17
Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

TAMPAMaybe it’s the twinkling chandeliers. All skajillion of them. Or maybe it is the rhythmic syncopation of ice cubes in shiny shakers. It could be the old-timey metal dessert cart with its silver cloches and chafing dishes, or else the chummy-but-...
Published: 12/11/17
Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

TAMPA Just a block away from CW’s Gin Joint, the folks at Urban Juice Co. have retooled, taking the historic Franklin building, one of the city’s oldest, erected in 1895, and re-envisioning it in September as 1895 Kitchen-Bar-Market, a "...
Published: 12/11/17
A vegan soul food eatery is opening in St. Petersburg

A vegan soul food eatery is opening in St. Petersburg

SOUL FOOD: VEGAN STYLERay Milton is a boxing instructor and former pastry chef and proprietor of Sugar Ray’s Bakery in St. Petersburg. In the past couple of years he has branched out with something entirely different. He runs a food truck that sells ...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Food news: Byblos reopens in South Tampa, Arab food festival this weekend

Food news: Byblos reopens in South Tampa, Arab food festival this weekend

REOPENING: BYBLOSYou know that hour before people show up for a dinner party where you think, "Holy smokes, I’ll never be ready in time. What was I thinking?" Nearly every restaurant opening, or reopening, is like that. I scooted by Byblos, a long-st...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
These Tampa Bay restaurants took honors in the Golden Spoon Awards

These Tampa Bay restaurants took honors in the Golden Spoon Awards

Florida Trend’s annual Golden Spoon awards were announced last week, honoring Florida’s best restaurants. Although Florida Trend serves the state’s business community, the Golden Spoons are a valuable consumer tool. Because Florida restaurants seldom...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17
Free iced coffee Monday as Dunkin’ Donuts offers #CupOfThanksFlorida

Free iced coffee Monday as Dunkin’ Donuts offers #CupOfThanksFlorida

Dunkin’ Donuts is giving thanks to Floridians with a free small iced coffee on Monday.The #CupOfThanksFlorida promotion is aimed at thanking customers for weathering Hurricane Irma as some locations had to close or change their hours, according to br...
Published: 12/04/17
Restaurant review: Clear Sky on Cleveland Global Bistro tries to cover every food on the planet

Restaurant review: Clear Sky on Cleveland Global Bistro tries to cover every food on the planet

CLEARWATERAll three of the Clear Sky restaurants read like the work of someone who’s been paying attention to what folks want.Co-owner Dan Shouvlin has got the proper curriculum vitae (a background in TGI Friday’s, Chi Chi’s, Olive Garden and then a ...
Published: 11/30/17
Updated: 12/04/17
This week’s food news: Clearwater Beach Uncorked, happy 25th birthday to Guppy’s

This week’s food news: Clearwater Beach Uncorked, happy 25th birthday to Guppy’s

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: GUPPY’STwenty-five years for a restaurant is a stupendous achievement in an industry with a two-thirds failure rate. So let’s bake a cake for Guppy’s on the Beach, or at least go there and eat cake. It opened its doors at 1701 Gulf Bl...
Updated one month ago