Orange people by the beach? Toto, I don't think we're in New York City anymore.
The Jersey Shore is probably more well known for guidos with Oompa Loompa skin and steroid fueled fist pumps, and alas, there's plenty of that in Seaside Heights and Ortley Beach (I had to forgo giggles for my own safety- the dude in front of me in a burrito place could've kicked Arnold Schwarzenegger's ass... like, 1970s Schwarzenegger, not the Governator)
But for the last two Memorial Days, I've been lucky enough where we've largely avoided that crowd and simply enjoyed the sand and the waves on quiet beaches, this year on Long Beach Island. Those loud, gold chain adorned folk were largely absent, though there were plenty of laid back families with boogie boards lining up at old-fashioned ice cream parlors on the main drag. It felt like stepping back about 30, 40 years ago, and it felt great!
"And what does your beach weekend have to do with your blog, Friendly Veg?" Aha, my fabulous readers, have I got a resto to share with you! If you think you'd be stuck in LBI with just burger and ice cream shacks, you're wrong.
Looks pretty damn good, doesn't it? It's the mesquite seitan strips with jicama, scallions, and pineapple salsa at Plantation. Plantation is as close to an upscale restaurant that you could find in a beach neighborhood- by my logic, they'd have to be relatively accommodating to a vegetarian.
My instincts were right- we found an entire vegetarian/vegan menu outside of the regular menu (though you need to ask for it). This was better than finding a prime spot on the beach! With salads, chili marinated tofu, pineapple fried rice, fresh vegetable quesadillas and more, it was tough to decide on just one appetizer and one entree! The mesquite seitan strips were wonderfully crisp and sweet, and were perfectly complemented by the fresh, crunchy jicama. And the strips were delicious on their own and with the pineapple salsa, with neither overwhelming the flavor of the other. As an entree, I went with the recommendation of a fellow diner across from us (see, vegetarians are everywhere!) and chose the sweet potato enchiladas over black beans and corn salsa with crema and cheddar (though if you wanted to make it vegan, I'm sure they'd omit the cheese and crema). Though I found the enchilada stuffing a bit bland- the mashed sweet potato was devoid of any south of the border spices or other veggies- it was easy to open up the enchilada and add the mild black bean and corn salsa, scallions, and crema. This blend of flavors and textures was great, and as a huge fan of sweet potatoes, I'll be recreating this dish at home.
Because it's hard to resist a slice of key lime pie when on a beach vacation, Plantation offers up an unusually thick, creamy version of the dessert... and of course, I didn't resist. It was so decadent that it was impossible to finish, but delightfully sweet and tart nonetheless.
Price-wise, you'll pay more at Plantation than you would at some of the other local restos, but here, it's clearly worth it. With it's Southern manor home feel, with heavy shutters and old fashioned hanging lamps above the tables, Plantation takes you away from the typical, casual (and meat heavy) beach dining. And if that means being whisked away from greasy stands, then by all means, let's go on a vacation within a vacation.
Plantation, 7908 Long Beach Blvd, LBI, NJ, (609) 494-8191