Right around the block from my apartment building is the Brownstone Pancake Factory. It’s a place I used to frequent multiple times a month, particularly for weekend breakfast. However, since taking on a vegan lifestyle, I haven’t been there in almost a year. Diners are often one of the hardest places to eat for a vegan, usually having to stick to salads only. And everyone knows you don’t go to the diner for a salad!
But now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have the Rutherford Pancake House in Rutherford, New Jersey!
Less than a thirty minute car ride from Jersey City, Rutherford Pancake House offers an entire breakfast menu with vegan options. Their breakfast menu includes vegan pancakes, vegan CHALLAH (freshly made in-house!) french toast, a variety of tofu scrambles, vegan scones, vegan Belgian waffles, vegan sausage… its everything a vegan could want in a breakfast menu. Their lunch/dinner menu also has a variety of vegan options including a vegan seitan cheese steak with Daiya cheese, a whole vegan-ized Tex-Mex section, seitan Marsala & Parmesan, and veggie burgers.
We went smack in the middle of brunch hour on a saturday – just about noon-ish – and were seated right away. We had previewed the menu online, so I kind of had an idea of what I might want. But first, I was delighted to be able to order coffee with soy milk at a diner! I wouldn’t have to drink my coffee black!
I placed a kind of gluttonous order – vegan pancakes AND the seitan cheese steak. I just had to have both! Melissa opted for the vegan Challah french toast. They make everything to order, so it takes a little bit longer to get your food than a traditional diner, but that is totally OK with me. I appreciate that extra effort, particularly if you are offering vegan options. The other thing I appreciate is that they seem to have really educated their staff about what it is to be vegan. Our waitress, who had only been there a month, had “never heard about vegan” until she started working there. She was quick to assure us that they take precautions for folks who order vegan menu items. I think that is absolutely fantastic.
Finally! Our food arrived.
I accidentally dug into the pancakes before taking a photo… I was really hungry. Mel & I ended up sharing the pancakes, and I gave her a couple bites of my cheese steak, but I was kind of hogging it. It was so totally yum. It was everything I had remembered a cheese steak to be, but without the sadness of meat included in every bite. And I ate every single bit of it. The pancakes were exactly what I was looking for as well… nice and fluffy! I had a bite of the vegan Challah french toast as well, and it was also very fluffy, cinnamon-y and delicious.
When we went up to the counter to pay, I asked if the gentleman working the register was the owner – he was! I thanked him and his GM (also at the counter) for making such an effort to include the vegan community. He said he has people who come far and wide to come and eat at his diner, and now I understand why. I told them that this diner is a great example and that I hope more establishments catch on. After all, us in the vegan crowd WILL travel for pancakes – and other delicious vegan fare.