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Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards 2011 – Best Vegetarian Restaurant

The last week The Enchanted Kitchen was open in State College was much like any other; it was interspersed with occasional unfortunate changes in hours due to family and personal crisis. That is one drawback to having a small family run business, limited staff and no structure to keep things up and running to establish a trust with your customer base. A place run solely on the karmic principles of joy, compassion, gratitude and equanimity are sadly probably destined to close, especially in today’s economy, without some sound business sense. Forgetting that customers won’t check FaceBook every time they decide to patronize a place isn’t all that compassionate anyway.

That makes Jayyid Harvest in Harrisburg currently the only vegetarian restaurant that falls (just) within Pennsyltucky. Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards include the county of Dauphin but it is not through default Jayyid Harvest is given this award.

With many of the same challenges that other local businesses have in this economy, Jayyid Harvest is still giving it a go. They are in a location that has not been successful for a long string of other restaurants (Flow Buffet, Bayou on Second, The Hub). It is also a family run restaurant and knowing it’s a vegetarian menu is going to scare some people away. Since October however, they have been serving a menu of delightful dishes with grace and promptness. They, unlike even when The Enchanted Kitchen was at its best, are customer friendly with affordable meals. Families with kids, dating couples, and seniors using canes will all feel accommodated, welcome and comfortable.

Latanya Henderson, co-owner of Jayyid, and her family have created a wonderful restaurant. The walls are painted in a warm pattern of textures, the tables are arranged in ways that take advantage of the limited space. The lack of WiFi access is nothing and if you don’t like watching the 2 raised HD televisions, the large windows offer a northern view of the neighborhood.

The all vegetarian menu is written on a large chalkboard on the back wall which allows for the addition of specials. With a quick wipe of a wet cloth, immediate amendments when they have run out of something can be made. Tempting vegan sweets like Carrot Cake are added for the lunch and supper menus while the brunch staples are written high above.

At brunch, I tasted the very best Tofu Scramble ever and had a side of perfectly cooked Grits. Many brunch dishes are served with a nice side of warm grilled Flat Bread. The bowl of fruit I had with my Chorizo Hash was not too bad for being melon cubes in winter and fresh blueberries were added to it.

Daytime isn’t the only pleasant time to visit Jayyid. Open 10 AM – 8PM Tuesday – Saturday, the city on street parking seems safe enough on Second Avenue even for supper time. The dining area has some nice track lighting as well as pretty hanging lamps to add to the decor. We just loved how it made the old patterned ceiling feel. Take note of the antique thermometer quite near the walk-up counter.

On our second visit, I took advantage of a one of their new raw foods specials, the Mock Salmon Pâté and Salad. It came with a side of warm Flat Bread and was served in a huge salad bowl. The pâté was chilled and a very nice smooth consistency; creamy with the flavors of cashew, carrot, celery and fresh red pepper. The generous portion was served over a bed of fresh mixed greens, plum tomato slices and grated carrot.

Jim shared some of his Simple Heat sandwich wrap with side salad. He chose the chili wrap (not doughy like many wraps can be), pepperjack cheese and wasabi sauce on the side. Simple Heat’s main ingredient is a soy chicken that is bathed in a wonderful jerk sauce and heated with some mushrooms, peppers and onions before wrapping it all up into a melty flavorful meal. I don’t like wraps all that much but could have easily enjoyed ever bite of his Simple Heat. Just to note, many of the regular dishes on the menu have fun names like The Inspiration or Awesome!

In its cute corner spot on Second Avenue in Harrisburg this is our region’s only strictly vegetarian restaurant. Maybe that will assure it sticks around and I am thinking the quality of everything mentioned above will certainly help. The meals are so affordable, not oily nor salty. I appeal to everyone in central PA to visit, discover and enjoy Jayyid Harvest to help sustain a real gem. It may be a drive for some of us but it is worth the trip. Check the Green Street Vegetarian Club events page for the dates they will be making regular visits. You won’t regret supporting the Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards 2011 – Best Vegetarian Restaurant.
Have you discovered another strictly vegetarian or vegan restaurant in Pennsyltucky? Good golly don’t keep it to yourself and let it be in the running for 2012! If it’s in central PA (see map here) let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment!

Jayyid Harvest on Urbanspoon

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