Saturdays are about to get a whole lot more soulful at G-Zen.
Starting this weekend, owners Mark Shadle and Ami Beach Shadle will begin serving a Saturday-only brunch at their popular vegan restaurant located at 2 East Main Street in Branford.
"We're smashing the stereotype of the brunch idea, making it gluten-free, having raw options, and doing the classics," says Ami.
By classics she means bacon and eggs. Only at G-Zen, these brunch staples are made from tempeh and scrambled tofu.
Patrons of the restaurant's "Buddah Brunch" will be able to choose from a special brunch menu that includes items like organic French toast, gluten-free pancakes and vegan mimosas, as well as a lunch menu that features many of the items the couple offers on their mobile food truck, Gmonkey.
"For the people who know the food they can't make up their mind," Mark says about G-Zen regulars. "There's so many options."
While the restaurant's options have inspired some to drive from as far away as New York City, anyone hesitant to dive into one of the award-winning chef's plates because it lacks meat or dairy should know that taste is not lost on the vegan offerings.
In fact, many of G-Zen's customers are carnivoires who return for what the couple describes as "comfort food."
"There's heavier stuff for people who are used to meat and then we go to the other extreme with the raw food," says Mark, former co-owner of It's Only Natural in Middletown.
"Working in other restaurants gave me a broad range of things to work with. You take the animal products out and substitute it with the natural ingredient,"
The atmosphere in G-Zen — diners are surrounded by candles, reclaimed farm wood and Mandalas by a Bali artist, a friend of Ami's — is a reflection of the couple, who live in Durham.
Many of the ingredients found on the menu are grown at the Shadle's farm, or purchased from local organic farmers.
In October, the couple celebrated the restaurant's one-year anniversary.
"It's a very amazing, cool vibe in here. It has a big draw," says Ami, who is working to invite former president Bill Clinton — an avowed vegan — to Branford.
"It's inspiring for me to have someone come in here who's never had vegetarian food, try it, and then start making changes in their lifestyle," says Mark.
If your lifestyle just requires good food, stop by G-Zen Saturdays between 11-4 p.m.
G-Zen is open five nights a week, Tuesday through Saturday from 4-9 p.m. (9:30 on Fri. & Sat.) Reservations are not required but evenings are usually busiest between 5-8 p.m.
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