I'm no food diva- sure I love a fine dining experience. I enjoy white tablecloths- and the particularly high-end places that scrape the crumbs from your table between courses. But there is a time and a place for this sort of event.
Though I love a great restaurant, I am equally satisfied by a well made sandwich, burger, or just about anything from a greasy spoon diner. When I worked in Boston I frequented the street meat kabob purveyor, and enjoyed a couple visits to Clover- a vegetarian food truck. Cheap, hearty, and satisfying, I miss these lunch options more than I miss Barbara Lynch.
So when Gmonkey mobile, a sustainable & vegetarian food truck, began tweeting their presence in Hartford earlier this month, I knew I had to try it.
Gmonkey has a mission – to bring farm fresh food to the streets. They source their ingredients from local farms and food producers. In addition their goal is to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible by utilizing bio diesel for their truck, compostable food containers and utensils, and composting their own food scraps.
Mark and Ami Shadle, the brains behind Gmonkey, use social media (Twitter and Facebook) to announce their locations and post specials. On May 5th when I visited the Billings Forge Farmers market they had tweeted about their Cinco de Mayo special: a vegan black bean & chipotle burger ($7).
I arrived with a craving for this sandwich– in addition my friend Sara and I were drawn in by the vegan grilled cheese ($7). We had heard so much about the Gfries ($6) that they needed an appearance on our plates as well. Add to that a root beer and a grapefruit soda produced locally by Avery’s in New Britain, and we were ready to dine.
Though omnivorous – I’ve had many a veggie burger in my day and they are usually disappointing. Too often a veggie burger is some mass of soy protein blended up to resemble a hamburger. The Gmonkey wasn’t a veggie burger masquerading as meat. Studded with pieces of black bean and rice, I could see what was in my delicious burger. Rather than feeling that with enough cheese or ketchup I wouldn’t miss my beef I appreciated this burger for what it was: beans and grains mixed together to form a hearty and filling patty.
Though I came for the burger, I was immediately enticed by the vegan grilled-cheese. The cheese is vegan and although surprisingly smooth, it played second fiddle to the delicious thick-cut caramelized onions and vibrant green pesto. The sourdough bread was griddled to a beautiful golden brown and although moist and tender did not yield to the generous filling. In my eyes, the grilled cheese was the sleeper hit of the lunch truck
And the fries? Crispy sweet potatoes, hand cut and fresh out of the fryer, is there anything better? Accompanying the fries was homemade ketchup. Rather than my usual Heinz that tastes more like sugar and vinegar – this stuff actually tasted like tomatoes. The natural sweetness of the fruit and the sweet potatoes is a match made in heaven. I nearly finished the fries by myself.
They have more than just sandwiches too. Other options that I’m excited to try on a return visit: Mom’s Lasagna with field greens, spicy peanut noodles, & black bean quinoa chili.
So the big question is of course: Will I miss the meat? Though a lover of good steak and anything wrapped in bacon, I also enjoyed this vegetarian food. The bottom line is that I love food that is prepared with care, attention and integrity. GMonkey mobile hits all these marks. With quality ingredients and passionate preparation, Mark and Ami Shadle create fun, beautiful, and satisfying food.
In Hartford and hankering for a healthy and delicious lunch option that you won’t regret in your 2pm meeting? Follow @gmonkeymobile on twitter and on facebook. They are going to be making stops in the Hartford area the remainder of the month – give them some suggestions for stops downtown!