It’s Only Natural

With a restaurant consistently named “Connecticut’s Best Vegan Restaurant” in the Hartford Advocate’s Reader’s Poll since 1992, you know you’re in for a quality meal. ION restaurant in Middletown, Connecticut certainly deserves the praise. They have been serving vegan meals made with seasonally fresh ingredients for years. Executive chef Tamara Cayer, the mastermind behind ION’s vast menu, has told Middletown Press, “Seasons change and what becomes available changes. I love it when fall and winter hit because there’s different greens and pumpkins. It sort of gets the creative juices flowing.” The diverse menu offers a southern twist to traditional entrées—quesadillas, risotto, pierogis, lasagna, and more. Daily specials are written in chalk on a large board next to the bar counter. Cookies the size of my head are baked and wrapped to be sold to go.

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Photo courtesy of Jillian Caillouette

My recent trip to the boho restaurant had me stumped at what to order. Everything from their dinner selections to their creative vegan cocktails had me second guessing myself every time I thought I had made up my mind. When it came time to order, I helped myself to nachos piled high with quinoa chili, olives, and cashew parmesan, the Southern Plate (featured picture) and a slice of salted caramel and chocolate cheese cake with whipped cream. Fried triangles of tofu arrived on my plate, surrounded by a heap of marinated kale and baked black beans. A monster cube of buttery corn bread topped it off, a little surprise I had missed while going through my initial read of the menu. Everything was amazing, and I found myself scraping lemon aioli off my plate long after the tofu was gone. 

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Buffalo tofu wrap with sweet potato fries. Photo courtesy of Kate Hartman

The atmosphere was unlike any restaurant I have visited in Connecticut. Each table is made from recycled tree stumps and have beautifully unique features. Natural cut Himalayan salt candle holders flickered from every surface. No two tabletops are alike, and that gives this place such beauty and honesty it is hard to describe. I really enjoyed the new age vibe and the gender neutral bathroom that proudly stated “We don’t care as long as you knock first!”

I will definitely be making ION a frequent dining stop. Their fall selection was lick-the-plate good and I can only imagine what their spring and summer specials will have in store.

(860) 346-9210, ionrestaurant.com

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