One positive aspect of living so far away from our immediate family is how much it makes us appreciate time spent with our "local" family- our grandpa lives about an hour away. We love spending time with him so when a family friend recommended a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant, we quickly planned a weekend lunch. Family + food = ♥.
Unfortunately, the eatery of choice doesn't open till 3 PM on Sundays, so we strolled down Main Street (of Newark, Delaware) to a cute and casual place called Home Grown Cafe. With somewhat of a hippie vibe, the bright colors and cheery atmosphere correspond with a menu full of healthy vegetarian and vegan options. Though our grandpa was less than thrilled, it is a place that is right up A & I's alley(s?).
In staying with the original Middle Eastern theme, we ordered the Tapas Platter ($8, or free when you have a super generous grandpa). A beautiful presentation of fluffy pita wedges and a trio of dips/toppings, it was perfect for sharing and great for satisfying any residual cravings from our initial restaurant choice. In our opinion, pita should be warm, thick, and chewy, and Home Grown didn't disappoint. Almost like a thin naan, it had a good powdery texture on the surface. However, the hummus was a little on the plain side- we like ours with lots of tahini (currently on a Tribe kick). The eggplant salad was strangely red and tasted sweet- attributed to a large dose of pureed tomato. A heavy-handed addition of cinnamon accented this sweetness but didn't work as well as I would hope. My favorite of the salads was very simple- halved cherry tomatoes in an herb-y vinaigrette.
I switched cuisines and ordered the Bahn Mi ($8). Not anything like what you might get at QT here in Philly, this sandwich was served in a pita wrap (more delicious pita, yes please). The fillings included strips of chicken, thin pieces of cucumber and pickled radishes, as well as fresh jalapenos and a "spicy sauce." The veggies were a little lost in the pita- the chicken was definitely the most predominant ingredient (which many would see as a plus!). However, the jalapenos pretty much destroyed me. Halfway through I had to hunt through the sandwich and pull the remaining pieces out. Though I enjoyed the sandwich and the fact that Home Grown put their own spin on it, I'd take the real thing in an instant. The side salad of greens with a creamy vinaigrette was good in a fresh and simple kind of way.
A went with something called the "Power House" ($7), a mongo focaccia sandwich piled high with veggies- everything from red peppers to alfalfa sprouts, complemented by honey mustard and two types of creamy cheese. The sauce was the star- more honey, less mustard, and the sweetness was a nice surprise.
Continuing on that idea... our grandpa knows how much we love sweets, so he insisted we at least look at the dessert menu. The Peanut Butter Bomb ($7.50) was a no-brainer, and lived up to our every expectation. A thin chocolate ganache shell hid a layer of chocolate cake and a dense ball of peanut butter mousse. The mousse was reminscent of peanut butter cookie dough- not too sweet but with an intense creamy richness... perfect for sharing. Our quintessential dessert.
We were happy for the opportunity to catch up, grateful for a free (and delicious) lunch, and looking forward to heading back to Newark- we still have a restaurant to check out! Also.. they have a Panera. Their Cinnamon Crunch bagel is probably on my Top 5 list of favorite foods.
Home Grown Cafe
126 East Main Street