Sunday, March 18, 2012

Restaurant Review: Loving Hut (Ledgewood, NJ) (+ other locations)

This is one of the most interesting “chain” restaurants I have ever been to. Usually when you go to a chain restaurant you expect it to have the head-office dictated color scheme, layout, and kitsch. You also expect that the menu will be uniform from one location to the next.

Fantastic Pho (Gluten Free / Vegan)
at Loving Hut in Ledgewood, NJ
Well, none of that is the case for the Loving Hut “chain” – I’d actually say it is more of a loose association of vegan themed restaurants. Each restaurant is allowed to set their own menu as long as it is 100% vegan. This explains why some locations flag their gluten free menu items while others do not.

I recently grabbed lunch at the nearest Loving Hut (538 State Route 10, Ledgewood, NJ 07852). Ledgewood is one of the locations that flags their GF menu items. (The other location in NJ, Matawan, does as well but they only have two items that are GF and both are appetizers.)

While you may not be able to tell from some of my previous articles (my Review of Vegan bakery Papa Ganache, my Review of Vegan Restaurant Good Karma Café, my Vegan Lasagna Recipe, etc) I’m not a vegan. I am however seriously intolerant of all milk products and somewhat intolerant of eggs so vegan establishments keep me safe from both of these.

Years of being stuck with plain grilled chicken and a dry baked potato when eating out has left me drawn to any gluten free item on a menu that I’ve never had before. This little quirk drew me directly to the Fantastic Pho. So, since I’m neither a vegan nor have I ever had Pho before I can’t tell you how authentic this dish was, I can however tell you it was amazing!

It was served in a giant bowl (I ended up eating the other half of it for dinner that night), had a slight kick to it (via the hoisin sauce on top), and the crispy fried bean curd was far better than I had ever imagined. (As a matter of fact, if I hadn’t known it was vegan, I may have assumed the crispy bean curd was fried chicken strips.)

Overall I found the staff very gluten aware and I was seated close enough to the kitchen that I overheard the waitress double check everything was prepared gluten free before bringing it out to me. I was in a rush to get to a Jazz concert that afternoon so I didn’t stick around long enough to find out if their vegan ice cream was also gluten free or not, but I’ll definitely check the next time I’m there!

Loving Hut on Urbanspoon

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