Moorestown, New Jersey restaurant regulars were more than somewhat dismayed when one of its most popular restaurants, The Green Apple Bistro, suddenly closed (allegedly after a hefty rent increase by its landlord.) Perhaps its location is indeed charmed, because the ‘newcomer’ that now occupies its space – the Healthy Garden – is, hands down, a terrific restaurant and truly the best in Moorestown, New Jersey. I made my first visit with Youngest Daughter, who is a Human Nutrition/Dietetics college major, in addition to being an excellent cook, purveyor of organic, wholesome foods, and frankly, a food snob. (She was ‘wowed’ beyond words with her meal on that first of several visits. She brought her menu home with her to try out some of the combination meals that the Healthy Garden has listed, most of them exquisitely creative.)
Don’t let the name ‘Healthy Garden’ frighten you away. Filet mignon, veal Marsala, and carmelized lamb chops are on the menu, as well as spaghetti and meatballs, cheese steaks, and 12″ Italian hoagies. Chicken fingers, Mozzarella bacon fries, and fried calamari are also available – there’s truly something for everyone. A kids’ menu is available, as well as items on the regular menu, including – and perhaps best of all, an order of organic oatmeal with strawberries, walnuts, bananas, honey and cinnamon – the ‘Power Breakfast’ is a meal that would make any mother proud. Their childrens’ offerings are as quirky as their regular menu: grilled cheese quesadilla, apple and mango grilled chicken salad, the ubiquitous chicken fingers and french fries as well as mozzarella sticks with fries, pasta with cheese or marinara sauce, chicken and rice (brown rice, chopped chicken and honey mustard dip), and the jelly belly – a toasted pita with peanut butter and jelly.
Don’t let the restaurant’s name mislead you into thinking that it’s all tofu, steamed brown rice and mashed chickpeas. It’s not – it’s very good food that also happens to be very healthy.
For a restaurant of its size, the Healthy Garden is extremely ambitious. Offerings are broken down as follows: Appetizers, homemade soups (in either 16 ounce or 32 ounce servings, enough for a meal – and we highly recommend their delicious Black Bean Soup topped with feta cheese and avocado – wow!), Delicious Melts, Crepe’s Corner, Quesadillas, Wraps, Platters, an entire page of Healthy Garden Salads (try the Lox Toss salad for a treat for the tongue: organic qunoa, smoked salmon, scallions, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans tossed with tzatziki sauce), Dinner Entrees, Pasta, a separate section for Whole Wheat Organic Pasta, Breakfast, Side Orders, Cold 12″ Hoagies, Steak Sandwiches, and Meal Replacement Shakes (more on that later!). Coffee, espresso, herbal or green tea, soft drinks, iced coffee, latte, hot mocha and double espresso are available, as well as decaf mocha, sugar free mocha, vanilla latte, sugar free vanilla latte and cookies ‘n cream. There’s a catering menu as well, which includes assorted cheese trays, garden/chicken/Greek/Spinach/Turkey Caprese salad trays, a wrap tray, deluxe fruit salad, pasta try (including a shrimp, crab and scallops pasta mix), and a variety of dinner trays (chicken, veal Marsala, Teriyaki chicken, tilapia, flounder, chicken Sardinia, shrimp scampi). Prices for their catering trays range from $29.99 to $129.99, depending upon the size and type of trays – all of them equal to our local grocery store’s catering trays in price, but doubtful equal in quality.
For those of you Jamba Juice fans, the Healthy Garden specializes in natural juices and smoothies, as well as Specialty juices. If you’re not looking for a full – or even light – meal, their juices are unsurpassed. Made fresh, they come in a variety of sizes, from small to literally a quartz, and include such nice blends of peach, blueberry and strawberry; kiwi, orange, lemon and pineapple; banana, lemon, papaya and orange, and honeydew, pineapple and orange. A two ounce shot of organic wheat grass is $3.95, with a four ounce serving going for $6.95.
Their Specialty juices include the Cold Fighter (carrots, grapefruit, orange, ginger, and echinacea), the Flu Buster (apples, oranges, lemon, garlic, ginger and echinacea), the Energy Blast (carrots, apples, parsley, celery and gingseng), the Cholesterol Reducer (carrots, apples, garlic and ginger), and the Detox (celery, spinach, carrots, orange, garlic and parsley). Our personal favorite is the Iron Booster: apples, beets, carrots and ginger. Normally, I really dislike beets, but this blend is delicious, filling and makes you feel quite righteous after drinking it! My oldest daughter likes the Carrot Fusion, a mix of strawberry, carrots and orange. These juices are a great way to get your daily vegetable requirements in a truly delicious mix. Since the Healthy Garden does not have a dessert menu – thank goodness for not having that temptation – it’s easy to substitute instead one of the good-for-you juices or smoothies instead, in a smaller version.
Our own personal favorites on the menu include the Breakfast Crepes, which I had on our first visit, and which the menu states are ‘scrambled eggs with goat cheese’. Three long, slender and lightly browned crepes arrived, filled with half scrambled eggs and half goat cheese. They were larger than expected, very tasty and so much food that I ended up taking one of the crepes home with me. We also shared a bowl of their black bean soup, which arrived at the table piping hot in a decently sized actual bow, topped with a nice slice of fresh avocado and a generous sprinkle of feta cheese. The Mediterranean Sample was a meal in itself, again so much food that we took half of it home: falafel (3 large pieces), organic brown rice with chick peas, several nicely warmed, quartered slices of pita, and a lovely ‘salad’ of field greens and tomatoes, lightly dressed. Everything on this platter was both very good and toasty warm upon presentation. My daughter especially enjoyed her Very Veggie whole wheat organic pasta entree, which was tossed with soy cheese, avocado, tomatoes, scallions, drizzled with virgin olive oil and topped with organic grilled tofu. The organic pasta entrees come with a choice of soup or salad and bread (pita); she chose the filling salad. ‘Regular’ pasta entrees are served with either soup or salad and bread; dinner entrees come with a choice of pasta, organic brown rice or mashed potatoes, OR a choice of two vegetables.
Serving so large a menu of fresh, organic food comes with its own set of challenges. Organic food by its very nature has a limited ‘shelf life’. Prices are not what we’d define as “expensive”, but neither are they cheap: you do indeed pay for the freshness and extra time and effort involved in producing organic, natural foods using high-quality, ‘fresh’ ingredients. (My daughter loves to cook eggplant lasagna from scratch. From start to finish, it takes slightly over two hours to bring this (decidedly delicious!) dish to the table.) Sometimes, the restaurant is a victim of its own success. Mother’s Day was a rare occasion on which I had to send my brunch entree back: the eggs were overcooked, the pita toast cold, the turkey bacon undercooked. The owner explained that ‘someone’ had just left his kitchen crew unexpectedly the day before, and they were overwhelmed by the rush of diners on that holiday. If something is not to your liking, speak up to one of the extremely polite, terminally cheerful waitstaff. (Our particular favorite is the young girl with short black hair and a perpetual smile.)
The Healthy Garden is worth your visit and patronage. Located at 73 East Main Street, there’s free parking BEHIND the restaurant, in the Second Street lot, as well as on street parking. Their telephone number is 856-234-2522. They will prepare take out orders, in addition to offering offer FREE delivery within Moorestown. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards are accepted. Sunday through Thursday, the Healthy Garden is open for business from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., and on Friday and Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. From our visits there, they do a very brisk breakfast business, and the place also has a sizable lunchtime following as well.
Live long! Eat healthy at The Healthy Garden!