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Restaurant Review: Garden Café on the Green

When you hear the name Woodstock, you probably automatically think of the famed music festivals held in the ‘60s. Actually, the events were held in Bethel, N.Y. but Woodstock is still considered the home of American music, arts and crafts.

Walking through Woodstock is like stepping back in time. People smile, say hello and make conversation with strangers. The town garb tends towards tie-dye t-shirts and sundresses.

The streets are lined with stores selling antiques, rare books, art, pottery, jewelry, candles and clothes. It’s so much fun to walk around, window-shop and admire all the local artwork and sculptures that stand outside almost every store.

Sunday is my favorite day in Woodstock. From 4 to 6 pm every Sunday, people fill up the Village Green for the CommUNITY drum circle. Music fills the air while people dance and hold up all kinds of colorful flags.
One of the best spots to view the drum circle is from a table at an organic, Vegan restaurant called The Garden Café on the Green. The Garden Café’s menu supports “personal, community and global health as well as local farmers and producers.”

Tom and I first ate at The Garden Café’ after a wonderful visit to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (membership gets you a discount at the restaurant). We sat in the light and cozy restaurant and ate the most delicious yet simple dishes including a delicious quesadilla and the Southwest Black Bean and Roasted Sweet Potato Burger (that came with incredible French fries).

Last Sunday, Tom and I were back in Woodstock looking for our next place to stay. We brought Benny with us for the ride. After a long walk, we watched the drum circle and then set our sights on The Garden Café’. We were starving and we had a long drive ahead of us.
We noticed they had a pretty outdoor garden with seating but when we asked, they said that Benny could not come into the garden and we would have to tie him up outside. That is most definitely out of the question.

So I went into the restaurant and ordered dinner for take-out. My server, Carlyn, who was extremely sweet and helpful, said the order would take about 25 minutes (the Café prepares the food freshly and doesn’t use a microwave so dishes can take awhile). So I got a delicious peach and pecan muffin to tide us over until the food was ready and took a menu to read outside while we waited.

Thirty-five minutes later, Tom and I sat on the steps in front of the Café to eat our dinner. We started off with a Vegan Tart made with roasted corn (it was supposed to be asparagus but they were out of that) baked in a creamy cashew filling with cheddar “cheese.” It was almost too beautiful to eat…almost but we got over that. The tart was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside; it was so decadent, we didn’t even mind that it cost $9.

For the entrees, Tom had the Grilled Portabella Mushroom Panini. Portabella mushrooms, roasted peppers, caramelized onions and a garlic aioli on homemade Focaccia served with a side Mesclun salad ($10).

Besides how incredible this Panini tastes, what is really amazing is how well this sandwich travels. The bread stays crispy around the velvety mushrooms and veggies even after it’s been in a take-out container.

I had the Garden Bowl which is “a meal in a bowl reflecting our global cuisine of deliciously prepared whole grains and seasonal vegetables and sauces made with either beans, tempeh or baked tofu.” Everyday they have different combinations.

My Garden Bowl contained a succulent sauté of rice, corn, and summer vegetables (bell peppers and zucchini), an amazing chickpea and sweet potato croquette topped with caramelized onions, and a crunchy kale salad with sesame Dijon vinaigrette ($12).

For drinks, Tom had the blueberry lemonade and I had an iced coffee.

It would have been nicer to sit in the outdoor garden area (they said the Department of Health has issues with dogs; Benny has an issue with the Department of Health) but it was beautiful evening. We felt a little self-conscious sitting on the sidewalk eating our dinner but plenty of people stopped by to smile at and pet Benny and we were absorbed in Vegan deliciousness.

Woodstock is famous for a lot of things but to me, the best part of this town is that you can have a completely compassionate day – visit the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and then indulge in a truly  remarkable, cruelty-free meal at The Garden Café on the Green.

Located at 6 Old Forge Road Woodstock, NY 12498  Phone: 845-679-3600

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