In recent years, Asbury Park has gone from a one-trick pony (Stone Pony for drinks, anyone?) to a culinary and entertainment destination on the Jersey Shore. It feels like it was just yesterday when food-wise the main option was to grab a boardwalk staple like fried Oreos and sausage and pepper sandwiches. These days, we’re enjoying a never-ending variety of food: pizza, all-American, korean tacos, mexican, raw bars, and more.
On that note – the “and more” note, you can even find plenty of vegetarian and vegan options in Asbury as well. An absolute standout for healthy cuisine is the Twisted Tree Café.
Built with an ironclad mission to serve a variety of healthy, simple food using top-quality ingredients, Twisted Tree Café is a locally-owned and operated business that buys locally sourced, GMO free and organic ingredients. With a menu that sticks to wholesome foods, including vegan and gluten-free wraps, microwaves or fryers are nowhere to be found on the premises. Of course, a diverse array of sandwiches, salads, soups, and vegan baked goods are also on offer. For caffeine addicts or plain-old enthusiasts, there is a wide variety of espresso and other coffee drinks on the blackboard, as well as power-healthy smoothies.
I had the chance to sit down with owners Amanda and Mark to discuss what makes their restaurant so special and unique. The café first opened it’s doors in 2003 and Mark and Amanda took over back in May. Mark is the first chef to head the restaurant. The restaurant’s recipe inspiration comes from accommodating Amanda’s gluten and dairy allergy along with Mark’s years of experience cooking up meat-heavy menus at high-end steakhouses. Mark’s eclectic background combined with Amanda’s food restrictions gives Mark the edge in terms of creating innovative recipes… isn’t this every chef’s dream? Amanda’s previous life working in graphic design shines through from the restaurant’s charming menu board and social media posts.
“The opportunity to take over back in May really fell into our laps. It was during the time we were getting married, so this additional new adventure really felt like it was meant to be,” said Amanda.
When I sat down at the Twisted Tree Café, I knew I would be in for a treat. I decided to try several of the café’s staples, including a rustic vegan oat-bread made in-house served up with homemade pesto and coconut curry soup. I already felt satisfied, however I had ordered a wrap packed with deliciously sweet, yet savory roasted sweet potatoes served with a homemade tahini dressing drizzled on a stunning array of kale, black Thai rice, and avocado.
I didn’t stop there. When I learned of the day’s special I couldn’t resist. Of course, this was a vegan cheese sandwich with walnut “cheddar” spread with shaved onion, tomato, and baby spinach on the homemade vegan bread.
And the side salad (yes, I ate that, too!) was the canvas to the terrifically creative ginger-miso dressing – the best I’ve ever tasted.
That’s a lot of food for me – for anyone – however everything on my plate(s) were basically gone. Mom would be so proud! Keep in mind, everything I had was 100% dairy and meat-free, therefore I didn’t leave feeling overly stuffed or uncomfortable.
My favorite dishes of the day were the coconut curry soup, the wrap, and side salad with miso dressing – if I had to narrow it down to just 3 dishes.
It makes sense that with options such as these, lunch and brunch are the primetime hours for the café. At one point they did try out dinner with the option to BYO, however the duo found their sweet spot is really the daily brunch crowd attracting a clientele that brings an awesome vibe.
What’s next for this entrepreneurial couple? They are in the works of opening a 2nd location further north closer to home and hope to eventually franchise out.
When is the best time to visit Asbury Park? Amanda offered this tip – September and October is the best time of year to check out the restaurants, entertainment, and shopping scene because the weather can’t be beat, and the massive crowds are gone.
The Twisted Tree is located at 609 Cookman Ave.
Winter hours are Wed – Friday 10am – 4pm; Sat – Sun 9am – 4pm
Closed Monday and Tuesday.
**Check their website for Summer and Spring extended hours including beach delivery**
They can be reached via 732-775-2633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.