By Sally Deering
Andrew Perera opened his cafÃ© and restaurant in Bayonne in August 2009, ten years after he met and designed a vegan menu for President Bill Clinton. At Andrewâ€™s in Bayonne, Perera serves his customers the same fare he designed for the former president — vegan soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts.
He serves a few meat dishes too.
â€œAndrewâ€™s is the only restaurant serving organically healthy cuisine in this Bayonne area,â€ Perera says, sitting outside his cafÃ© on a sunny weekday afternoon. â€œA lot of people come from Staten Island, East Rutherford, Linden, Queens â€“ I have people coming here because the food is healthy. Soups, appetizers, entrees, desserts, our customers are crazy for everything vegan, especially the desserts and the soups.â€
The Vegan Chili is also very popular, Perera says. â€œItâ€™s made with 12 different fresh vegetables and enriched with vegetable protein.â€
The menu has 21 different soups, mostly vegan, made with no butter, no rarified sugar, no flour, and gluten-free. Perera says the Butternut Squash, Leeks with Spinach, and Asparagus soups are extremely popular with customers. Cold soups on the menu are Avocado & Veggie, Gazpacho, Leeks with Spinach, Leek and Potato and Tropical Mixed Fruit (Cup: $6; Bowl: $7.50). Hot soups include Chicken Vegetable, Manhattan and New England Clam Chowders, Seafood, Broccoli, Five Onion, Green Lentil, Split Pea, and Watercress (Cup: $5-$7; Bowl: $7.50-$10).
The menu features â€œHealthy, Organic, Gourmet World Sandwichesâ€ including Avocado & Shrimp; British, Filet of Sole with avocado, tomato, mixed greens on a roll; Chicken Caesar, Vegan Burger, and Rainforest with mixed greens, garden veggies, pineapple and fresh tofu in a wrap ($10-$12).
Salads are made fresh to order using all organic ingredients and include the Avocado & Shrimp salad; Caesar, Fresh Fruit, Greek, Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Spinach, and Hawaiian Salad with mixed greens, garden veggies, chicken, pineapple, onion, tomato & sweet peppers ($10-$12).
Appetizers include Andrewâ€™s Fried Shrimp, Baked Falafel Platter, Fresh Mozzarella Platter, Greek Wine Leaves Platter, Stuffed Portobello, the Shrimp & Crab Cocktail, and the Vegan Platter served with hummus, wine leaves, falafel, garden veggies and multi-grain pita bread ($10-$14).
Entrees include Cheese Ravioli, Crab Cake, Filet of Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, Chicken Curry and Vodka Shrimp ($18-$30).
All desserts are gluten-free and made without refined sugar. There are vegan desserts, too; they include Chocolate Mouse, German Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Cheesecake and Cannoli ($4-$6).
Andrewâ€™s has 25 seats and a couple of tables outside to eat al fresco. A former corporate executive chef, Perera has helped open 97 restaurants in cities all over the world including St. Petersburg, Paris, and Rome. A graduate of the International College of Hospitality Administration in Bridge, Switzerland, Perera earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel Management along with a Masterâ€™s Degree in Food and Beverage Technology.
â€œI worked for Dubai Hilton, Berlin Hilton, Zurich Hilton,â€ Perera says. â€œI was their executive chef for seven years, but I got tired of traveling and decided to settle down.â€
It was in 1998 when Perera was training staff at the Washington Hilton in D.C. when President Bill Clinton brought his chef to meet with Perera and share his expertise in vegan cooking. Since that fateful meeting, Clinton has lost 80 pounds, Perera says.
â€œI did menu prep and shared some of my knowledge of vegan cooking,â€ Perera says â€œI taught his chef the different preparation necessary for vegan cooking and told him different foods to try. President Clinton really liked my veggie burger. Heâ€™s now totally vegan.â€
Perera says switching to a vegan diet isnâ€™t hard. The challenge is getting people to try things that taste differently than what theyâ€™re used to eating. For instance, Instead of using refined sugar, use dates, he says.
â€œVegan food is very flavorful if you know how to cook it,â€ Perera says. â€œThis is where I apply my knowledge.â€
If you go:
Andrewâ€™s CafÃ© & Restaurant
737 Broadway (33rd St & Broadway)
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11 am – 9 pm;
Sat, 11 am – 9 pm;