Lowell and I went to the Pet Shop for dinner. NO, we did not eat any cute little critters. The Pet Shop is a restaurant and bar that was originally a “pet shop.” What makes this restaurant even more endearing is that it is vegetarian, not one animal item is on the menu. And FYI, no pets are allowed.
There is some whimsy to the décor as the walls are decorated with a myriad of animal pictures that look like they were purchased at garage sales or antique stores. The long bar at the entrance, leads to the rear dining room containing booths, high tops and tables. Check out the pinball machine, old photo booth (remember those?), vintage cigarette machine and dumbwaiter (large cubicle by the bar) whose red light flashes on when the food is sent up from the basement kitchen. A couch with two end tables, a coffee table and lamps is by the rear brick wall above which is a yellow neon birdcage adding to the homey ambiance. Additionally, there is a backyard garden with picnic tables and a basement wine bar that serves natural wines produced by small independent farmers.
The concise menu has small plates, sandwiches and salads sections. Thinly sliced roasted beets were topped with arugula, capers, and mustard vinaigrette in the roasted beet carpaccio; a beautifully plated dish. Pet Shop Raw Chow Fun, a colorful and tasty offering, contained thinly sliced green and golden zucchini “noodles” topped with julienned red pepper, bean sprouts, scallions, raw cashews, crumbled tofu, cilantro and a lip smackin’ sesame/soy/lime/rice vinegar dressing. A creative cauliflower steak sandwich had layers of flavors from the caramelized cauliflower steak lightly dusted with fennel-seed powder topped with garlic sautéed kale, fried, long hot peppers and provolone; we loved it and as an added bonus it came with hand-cut french fries and house-made ketchup. Desserts are not offered but Torico Ice Cream, known for its unusual flavors, is only a few blocks away.
Head chef is Eric McGuire who started working in the industry at age 15 and learned his skills on the job. Open Monday through Friday from 4 PM; Friday and Saturday from noon.
193 Newark Avenue
Raw Chow Fun Salad
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
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