There used to be a place called Veggie Castle on Church Ave. It was in an old White Castle, but it served vegan Caribbean food The food, served from arming trays, was incredible — not just veggies like yams and stewed okra, but also fake meats in jerk seasoning. It was run by some Rastafarians, following many of the principles of Ital cuisine. They closed several years ago, and though I’ve heard they re-opened up in Queens I haven’t been up there to check it out. But a few weeks ago I was on Coretlyou Road and did a double-take; I saw a place called Hartwell Vegetarian Cuisine that reminded me of Veggie Castle. The had a sign in a window for Jerk seasoned soy protein, and I could see warming trays inside. I was in the neighborhood to eat at the Farm on Adderley (second time eating there, second mediocre meal), so I filed the information away for future use. When I went back for my visit, they didn’t have the Jerk stuff — they rotate through different vegan proteins on a daily basis. I got a “Medium” — two proteins with three sides, loaded into a takeaway container. After sampling a few things, I chose the “Lemon Stew” and the “BBQ Pepper” as my proteins — both featured wheat gluten, but seasoned completely differently (they also have plenty of gluten free options). The lemon stew was chunks of wheat gluten with mixed veggies in a mild, lemony sauce. The BBQ pepper had strips of the gluten, this time in a slightly sweet barbecue sauce with peppers and beans. For my sides I got black beans, mixed vegetables, and kale with spinach and garlic. The sides incredibly fresh but they weren’t seasoned particularly well; I was expecting something on the level of the aggressive seasoning from Veggie Castle, and this wasn’t it. But when mixed with the proteins, it was all quite good. I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of the other proteins — I’m still craving the Jerk seasoning.
Hartwell Vegetarian Cuisine — 1017 Cortelyou Rd