Most days I find myself firmly planted in the camp that believes in “dessert first” and entrees optional. While I used be dedicated to counting calories and watching my diet, I have found happiness in splurging this summer. Therefore, when I entered Center City’s Jar Bar by Catalyst, I didn’t know what to expect. Their menu and website boasts “fresh, juicy and raw” vegan goodness. Frankly speaking, I didn’t even know I had ANY of those words in my vocabulary — until now!
Upon entering the modern and simple cafe on 113 South 12th Street, I was greeted by the smells of sun fruits. The bouquet of citrus wafting from the juicing area perked me up — sort of like the sun does when it pokes from behind a cloud on a rainy day. The weather outside seemed like it was at least 500 degrees, so naturally I migrated right over to the drink cooler. There I was greeted by summertime favorites with a fruity twist, including Coconut Pineapple Lemonade, Iced Green Tea with Agave, and Cantelope Orange. While I tried to decide between the three, the friendly associate at the counter flashed me a smile and a small sample of the Mint Chocolate Chip Elixir. I was sold!
I put the juices back (and made a large note to return) and ordered myself an Elixir. While the associate made the drink, she told me all about the concept behind their Elixirs — she event detailed what ingredients she would be using today. Most important, she said, were the super fruits and antioxidants like the raw cocoa nibs and hemp seeds. I hadn’t ever had hemp seeds and wasn’t sure what to make of them. However, apparently my taste buds weren’t of the same mind set as the drink disappeared almost as fast as it arrived.
Next up on my healthy and fun adventure was the raw main course. The associate raved about the Raw Sweet Potato Pasta and I had to check it out. I love sweet potatoes in anything and everything. So much so, I once got held up at airport security as my backpack contained a random, uncooked sweet potato that I failed to cook for lunch that day. (But that’s another story for another day!) As deep as my love goes sweet potatoes, I had never, ever eaten them raw. I was hesitant about the odd texture, and even more alarmed about eating my arch enemy, zucchini. I’ve spent many decades avoiding this vegetable, just ask my mom. However, since I was living life on the ‘vedge today, I decided to give it a shot!
When I opened the container, this sexy dish came to life by appealing to my senses. From the vibrant colors, to the smell of garlic and basil, to the light citrus taste, this dish had me hooked. Each bite was firm, yet not too crispy. The cashews added a nice and expected crunch to the dish. The zucchini blended into the sweet potato and I forgot all about it. While the list of ingredients was small, the taste was big!
After I finished eating every single shred of the “pasta” it was time for dessert! Yes, even at Jar Bar, I can manage to find something gooey and sweet to satisfy my sweet tooth. They had several options to pick from, including Apple Pie, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Mousse Pie and Macaroons. I was tempted by them all, but opted for the Coconut Cream Pie. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill coconut cream pie with toasted coconut sitting on top of whipped cream clouds. In fact, not only was there no whipped cream, but the pie itself looked raw and even ugly. This actually was the best part of the dish, however, as it is amazing how looks can be deceiving. This hearty and simple creation ended up being the true star of tonight’s show! (I’ve already made a plan to go back for more!)
All in all, my trip to Jar Bar was not only fun but educational. I often can stick to the same old tried and true foods that I love, and sometimes I am not that adventurous when it comes to my palate. Today, I learned a great lesson in that some things can sound “scary” and foreign, but in reality be delicious and healthy. Jar Bar’s Coconut Cream Pie definitely makes my top ten list for interesting and unique desserts in the city. The Elixir would have me running to Jar Bar after every workout, if only I lived in the city. The Pasta definitely is something worth ordering again.
Jar Bar makes the Philly Loves Fun list for a great lunch spot with colleagues, or a unique first date spot when you need something casual but unique. Next time you stop by, let me know what you had — so I can add it to the list of things to try next visit. Bon appetite!
Disclaimer: No compensation was received in exchange for this blog post.