We drove right by Present Moment Cafe the first time and had to pull around and approach it again. The squat barrel shaped building hugged close to the road had blended into the tightly packed urban blip of King Street in Old Town St. Augustine.
But this is no urban desert of a restaurant. Within the doors lush blues and greens stream through the jewel toned windows, wood so lustrous it seems to still breathe, coats the walls and a gentle pink emanates from each table set with a Himalayan Salt grinder.
In a town more equipped to serve novelty fried alligator tail and slippery sweet ice cream cones to tourists, Present Moment Cafe gives one pause.
This is a restaurant designed to nourish all the senses.
I had convinced my grandmother to bring us into town to sample Yvette Schindler's raw fare not really knowing what to expect. Would there be anything she would dare to eat?
Salads don't hold much of a place on this imaginative menu. Mango samosas, Viva Burrito, Nachos, White Truffle Pesto Pasta and the Sunlight Burger stuffed with mushrooms and nuts.
Where to begin?
Sometimes when I don't know where to start I go back to the start.
Where did I start this weird food journey? What foods brought me out of the boxed mashed potatoes and microwave mac and cheese dark ages?
Miso was one of those first foods.
At the Japanese Steakhouse, where charred bits of shrimp were thrown into the grinning gapes of openmouthed spectators, I tasted my first bowl of salty miso.
As a new vegan years later I was heartbroken to find so many restaurants served fish laced broths, so when an opportunity to try a miso made without my swimming friends comes along I take it.
Present Moment Cafe could have gotten away with being mediocre. With few vegan options and no real competition in the way of raw vegan fare, they probably could have gotten by being the only joint in town and could prepare whatever they wanted. But they turned out an amazing meal, a New York quality meal really.
I was tempted to buy their cookbook before I left but opted to just hold the flavors and textures in my mind until I could make another pilgrimage to the fountain of youth that is Present Moment Cafe.
22 West King Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084
Monday - Thursday 10am - 9pm
Friday - Saturday 10am - 9:30 pm