We were fleeing Florida, driving through Charleston on our way back to Charlotte.
Why were we fleeing Florida? Because there’s lots of stuff for us “hoomans” to do in Florida. Disney World. Universal. A moonlight gambling cruise. (My traveling companion cleaned up at the craps table, and I made a $4.00 profit on the slots! Woo-hoo!)
But there is not much stuff for dogs to do. Florida is NOT dog-friendly. You can’t even take them out on the beach anywhere except for a small strip along Cocoa Beach. So, we packed up and headed to the South Carolina Coast – where dogs are welcome almost ANYWHERE, all the time, between October 1 and March 31st. Even during the busy tourist months, dogs are still allowed on the beach during certain hours.
But this left us in a quandary when we reached Charleston. Due to COVID, the dog-friendly place we stayed didn’t offer any sort of breakfast. Not even coffee and hot water so we could make instant oatmeal.
And breakfast is one of the hardest things for a vegan restaurant to get right. Usually it’s a huge and expensive brunch. Vegan crabcakes with remoulade sauce. Vegan benedict with hollandaise sauce. Mimosas, and other morning cocktails and mocktails. Enormous platters of tofu scramble and sausage, bacon, home fries, grits, etc…
OR … it’s stuff you can (and should) be trying at home, kids!
Oatmeal – or some fancy version of “overnight” oats. Please, can we stop this right now? Who wants to eat cold oatmeal? Not me, not now, not ever, not even on the hottest day in July.
Peanut butter and bananas on toast. Usually it’s called something like “artisan bread, lightly seared, spread with natural nut butter and topped with layers of organic banana.” But peanut butter toast by any other name is still … peanut butter toast.
Avocado toast (please, ENOUGH with the ridiculously overpriced avocado toast!) – I’ve made this in my hotel room with help of a blow dryer).
Fortunately, The Gnome Cafe in Charleston, SC totally nails vegan breakfast!
There’s a few more expensive, “brunch-ier” items, such as cinnamon pancakes topped with strawberries and served with portabella bacon and home fries. Or a breakfast burrito made with tofu scramble, guacamole, and mango salsa. Or a Southern Grit bowl with grits, tofu scramble, sauteed kale, and portabella bacon.
Not quite that hungry? They also have pastries -cinnamon rolls, banana bread, poppyseed muffins, bagels, smoothies, and parfaits.
And this Sausage Biscuit – a hemp sausage patty served on a cheddar-scallion biscuit with a sweet, slightly spicy red pepper jelly. (You can order this on a plain biscuit, but I highly recommend the upgrade to the cheddar-scallion biscuit.) Whatever else you order, this one is a must! Put this one on your vegan bucket list!
We also ordered a side of cheesy grits – probably some of the best cheesy grits I’ve had. These are the gourmet grits made on Edisto Island (formerly Geechie Boy; now Marsh Hen Mills). It’s from an heirloom variety of corn, ground on antique machines in a process that’s alleged to make them creamier. The only way these grits could have been better is if we’d had the option to mix in a few chopped jalapenos.
And a side of portabella bacon. Here, I have a small quibble. To me, bacon should be not just smoky but crispy-crunchy. A more accurate name would have been “savory mushrooms.” I did like the smoky-salty taste, and they were delicious mixed with the cheesy grits. I imagine they’d also be good mixed in with a tofu scramble. But, calling this “bacon” is misleading.
Finally, Gnome Cafe has quite a decent little coffee bar. We just ordered the drip coffee, a shot of mocha for me and a shot of vanilla for him. And it was good coffee!
Due to COVID19, it’s takeout and delivery only. You place your order through an app – which was one of the friendliest apps I’ve tried so far. You get an email confirming your order and the estimated time to pickup. (Our wait time was about 10 minutes.) When your order is ready, they send you a text and you enter the restaurant and pick up your bag(s) and coffee(s) from the table. This process was extremely smooth.
Gnome Cafe also serves lunch – not reviewed here, as we only had breakfast.
One final note: I know it was Thanksgiving weekend, and a grey drizzly sort of day. But I was a bit alarmed by the lack of crowds and the number of storefronts that are permanently closed. (When I’ve visited Charleston before, it’s always been bustling-busy.) Charleston attracts a lot of business from tourism which is way down right now. If you pass through Charleston, please make a point at stopping at all-vegan Gnome Cafe (or another vegan-friendly spot, such as Brown Dog Deli) and give them a little bit of business!
109 President St, Charleston, SC 29403