Toad Style Brings the Vegan Street Food Ruckus to Bed Stuy, Brooklyn

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“Vegan out, vegan in” might be the new mantra for New York City’s vegan scene of late.  Over the past year we’ve lost some of the best vegan spots in all of the Big Apple. Among them, Lan Café, Pukk and Tiengarden are all but a memory. Some of their more dedicated diners (like us) have still not gotten over the shock of their absence. On the positive side, several new vegan and vegan-friendly places have sprouted up, namely Superiority Burger, VSpot Organic‘s Manhattan location, by Chloe, 3 Brothers Vegan Café (Long Island) and now Toad Style in Brooklyn! 

Located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Toad Style comes to down to “bring the ruckus” with a kung-fu takedown to street food. An exciting vegan first for the neighboorhood, there are burgers, sandwiches, subs, sides and Manhattan Special sodas for EVERYONE!

After an hour of post-work travels from New Jersey, we braved through traffic like Shaolin masters to reach Ralph Avenue to a small bodega-sized spot, adorned with obscure movie posters and spartan furnishings. Want to see more art? Check the bathroom for several Boris Vallejo prints!

To say that “the joint was jumping” would be an understatement. The teensy spot was filled to the brim with people buzzing, punk music blaring and a kitchen overwhelmed! When we placed our order, we decided on take-away and were given the head’s up that it would be 30 minutes. We didn’t mind, because we ran into our friend Evan and were able to let time fly. 
We ended up ordering the BBQ Pulled Jackfruit, Bánh mì, Fried Cauliflower, Fried Pickles, and a couple of Manhattan Specials espresso coffee drinks. 

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Before we left, the Manhattan Specials needed to be downed right then and there. If you’ve never tried a Manhattan Special you must give them a ride. It’s basically a caffeine-laden espresso soda that will explode when you open it, no really, they act like Mt. Vesuvius upon opening! 

We fought off the desire to nosh on the aromatic goodies on the way home so we could photograph them for our blog; oh, the sacrifice! As soon as we arrived home the feast was on. 

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BBQ Pulled Jackfruit: Smoked jackfruit, house BBQ sauce, coleslaw, spicy pickles and onion jam

This sandwich was the best of the 4 items! The BBQ sauce onion jam with the pickles and…WOW! That vinegary flavor with the sweet coleslaw was delicious and went well with the smoked jackfruit. Carm loves jackfruit and now wants to know how to smoke it at home for other dishes!

Fried Cauliflower: Breaded and fried with dipping sauce

Sadly, Toad Style was out of their hand-cut fries by the time we arrived. However, the fried cauliflower was a nice stand-in. The cauliflower was tender, sweet with a little spice kick. The breading was even with the right amount just covering the florets. The dipping sauce was like tsatziki sauce, pretty refreshing!

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Bánh Mi Sandwich: Coconut crusted fried oyster mushrooms, pickled daikon and carrots, fresh cilantro, hothouse cucumber, lime aioli, five-spice mushroom pate and hothouse chili sauce

As some of you may know from our recent by Chloe review, Carlo dislikes mushrooms. However, he loves Banh Mi sandwiches. The thought of something coconut-crusted and fried allowed him to put aside his disdain for funghi to try this sandwich. Overall, it was very good. Carlo said he thought the mushroom had a texture like seitan, but it didn’t have the punch of flavor he loves. We didn’t get the coconut flavor, and the lime aioli was bland. The aioli wasn’t evenly spread, nor were pickled veggies and cucumber. We think that could have made a huge difference. So, of course, we’re going to try it again…soon!

Fried Pickles

We’ve recently developed a love for fried pickles. So, we had to try them! Breaded and fried with a crunch, the sourness of the pickles with added heat really made these a winner. The same cool dipping sauce was served, as with the cauliflower. Comparing the fried veggies, we liked the pickles a little more. Both were done well.  

We love hole-in-the-wall vegan eateries like Toad Style. And like many new places, they have a few knots to untangle. Don’t let the few fixable chinks in their armor dissuade you from popping down there. Once they streamline their system, and shave off some waiting time, they’ll going to have a loyal following.  But for now you may want to call ahead.

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Toad Style
93 Ralph Avenue
Brooklyn, New York
www.toadstylebk.com

3 Brothers Vegan Cafe: Long Island’s First All Vegan Restaurant!

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Vegan chef Jay Astafa may only be 23 years old, but he’s taking the vegan world by storm! What he’s doing with traditional Italian and Mediterranean cuisine is nothing short of fantastic. From the vegan menu at his family’s 3 Brothers Pizza in Farmingdale, New York to his creative culinary pop-ups throughout NYC, how lucky is Long Island to have him open up their area’s first all-vegan restaurant, 3 Brothers Vegan Cafe!

Being fans of Jay’s food, especially his cashew milk (Bufala-style) mozzarella (see video with recipe), we made the trek to Copiague, New York after a long working Saturday in New Jersey for Grand Opening weekend!

Open for take-out and dine-in service, the restaurant has a traditional pizzeria look when you enter. There’s a great dessert case featuring cakes by pastry chefs Dani McGrath and Nicole King. When you cross the threshold to dine, it’s a really rustic, Mediterranean style with bench seating along the wall, tables in the center and a few high-tops with tools. The difference seem to fit and make sense. It’s certainly bigger than Jay’s family’s Farmingdale location.

Being that our visit was on the official second day, we were so happy to see how packed the restaurant was! While there were some things in the service that could be tweaked, everyone seemed to be handling it well with Jay coming out to assist when needed. Overall, the staff was pleasant, but could use a bit more familiarity with the menu, details of dishes and a quicker pace. However, we know that improvements will come over time.

Now, onto the food! Here’s what we had at the restaurant:

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Arancini (Rice Balls): Italian rice balls served with tomato sauce

3 balls of rice and cheese, rolled in breadcrumbs, fried and served with tomato sauce. While they were good, we felt this was the weakest dish of our meal. The balls were small, but it was an appetizer. Considering the size, we felt they were better suited as passed hors d’oeuvres. We also thought there would be more than rice and cheese in them. We love stuffed arancini with peas and/or seitan grounds. It also needed a bit more salt, and could have used more sauce served with them. 

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Spanakopita: Phyllo pastry with spinach, dill, homemade feta, and lemon. served with tzatziki sauce. 

Delicious! Served as three triangles, the spanakopita was light and not oily. The tzatziki sauce paired very nicely and added a brightness to this dish. The only knock was that the triangles were small, considering a plate of them is $10.00. However, we were very happy with it, and would get it again.

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Manicotti: Cashew-tofu ricotta filled manicotti shells, topped with fresh cashew milk mozzarella and tomato sauce

Neither of us had stuffed pasta in a while. Seeing there was manicotti on the pasta menu, we had to order it. Jay did not disappoint with this one! The ricotta was full of flavor and held in the pasta quite nicely. The cook of the pasta was perfect and the bake with the mozzarella was lovely. The sauce was delicious. Everything tied together well in a very cohesive course.

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Cauliflower Steak: Roasted cauliflower, cauliflower mash, kale, salsa verde

Wow! We tried to make our own cauliflower steaks, but they never came out like this! If we can be so bold, we would say that this entree is “meaty.” Not so much in texture, but definitely in flavor. The salsa verde was smart as it evened out the smoky char on the cauliflower. Then, you had the cauliflower mash that was so close to a smooth mashed potato that you had to do a double-take: very rich and creamy. The kale broke up the texture really well, as it had a bit of bite.

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Cookie Monster Cake: 2 layers chocolate cake, middle layer soft baked chocolate chip cookie with cookies and cream frosting

Mini-fork fight at the table over this one! There is a Cookies & Cream cake on the menu, but the Cookie Monster was on a whole other level. Rich, decadent and totally makes you happy to be guilty, this cake was a cookie lover’s dream. The cake layers were moist. While the center was more cookie dough than baked cookie, there were NO complaints! Cookie center was AMAZEBALLS! The frosting was delicious, like cookies & cream ice cream (a fave in our home). 

Oh yeah! You know we had to take some food to go! Here’s the rundown:

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Calzones: One with cheese (left); the other with cheese and seitan sausage (right)

Jay’s pizzas and baked calzones are made to order. With 5 different types of cheese and an array of topping choices, On this outing, we went with 2 calzones to go. Cashew ricotta and mozzarella were delicious, but a bit heavy. The dough was somewhat crispy. The seitan sausage added some great flavor to the one calzone. Of course, having the marinara for dipping sauce was really good.

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Eggplant Rollatini (Appetizer Portion): Breaded eggplant rolled with tofu-cashew ricotta. topped with fresh cashew milk mozzarella and tomato sauce 

Want to convince an omnivore to go vegan? Give them some of Jay’s Eggplant Rollatini! This dish has been a fave of ours from the Farmingdale location. We expected it would be as delicious in Copiague. Our expectations were met, even the next day, with a side of pasta.

Note: The pasta does not come with the dish. We made some at home to have with it!

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BBQ Jackfruit Panini: BBQ jackfruit, cashew milk cheddar, purple cabbage slaw 

BBQ jackfruit is Carm’s “jam.” If it’s on a menu, it has to be ordered! Guess what we got?

Jay’s BBQ jackfruit is a panini. While there wasn’t a major cheese factor, the sandwich was tasty. There was a nice crunch with the slaw. The bread soaked up the flavors without getting soggy. There was a good cook on the jackfruit, but could have upped the BBQ sauce here. In fact, this would have been great with a sweet barbecue dipping sauce.

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Rainbow Cookie Cake:

MY OH MY!! Talk about saving the best for last! 

In many Italian cookie platters, the rainbow cookies are often the first to go. Maybe it’s the colors. Maybe it’s the yummy dark chocolate. Having grown up with them, all we can say is that rainbow cookies are a treat. Vegan ones? Even better! In a cake? We could only sum it up, like we did in this Instagram post:

“O-M-G!!! This cake brings #happiness by being on the menu! Then to taste it the next day at home was like WHOA! If you ever make just the cookies, we’ll take 1000 pounds!”

While the trip to Copiague to our home in the Bronx is about an hour (without traffic), we plan on making the trip again soon! This food is too good to pass up, and it worth the ride. Time to nudge Carlo’s cousins to get some food for Jay from this year’s Thanksgiving feast! 

Congrats Jay and team!!! Congrats Long Island!!! 

3 Brothers Vegan Cafe
1038 Montauk Highway
Copiague, New York
http://www.3brothersvegancafe.com/