Getting to Know The Cider Press Cafe

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From the busy street outside, you would never imagine the culinary wonders that await you inside the doors of The Cider Press Cafe. Tucked away in a strip mall at the intersection of Immokalee and Airport Pulling, The Cider Press Cafe is now one of my favorite restaurants in Naples and if you truly love incredible food, you have got to visit soon!

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There is a lot of stigma about vegan restaurants because the food often lacks flavor. And when you throw in the fact that The Cider Press is not only vegan but also RAW (which means it’s served cold), people start making funny faces at you when you mention you want to dine there.

But when you walk through the front door, you know this is a different kind of place altogether.  And the team of Executive Chef Johan Everstijn and General Manager Roland Strobel have truly done an amazing job.
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At the head of the kitchen is Executive Chef Johan Everstijn, who trained under Master Chef Mehemet Ak in Chicago, where he learned a great deal about preparing raw food. Then, as an instructor and executive chef at the critically-acclaimed Matthew Kenney OKC in Oklahoma City, Johan fine tuned his skills, including creating amazing meals with the most unexpected ingredients.  Johan’s eye for design and beauty go beyond the plate and are evident in the modern design and minimalist styling of the restaurant itself.

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One of the beautiful things about The Cider Press Cafe is that it is sustainable inside and out, from the wood tables to the decorations — to the raw vegan cuisine. The decor is a blend of happy, soothing beach colors with the comfort of your grandparents’ farmhouse. In fact, that’s just where the beautiful old cider press sitting by the front door came from…and what inspired the name of the restaurant.

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The bar has reclaimed Wisconsin hardwoods on it and the stools are funky old tractor seats. It’s modern and fresh with a chic vibe while still giving you an industrial feel as you peek at the inner workings of the restaurant in the open kitchen at the back.

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This cushion was made from old plastic soda bottles!

As you’ve probably guessed by now, we love food and take it very seriously. We are experienced home chefs and perhaps that is why we value a truly good meal — and also don’t find the appeal of spending a fortune on mediocre food. So when I say the food was nothing short of amazing, I truly mean it!

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Florida Roll – their popular watermelon ‘tuna’, mango, jicama rice, avocado: tamari sauce, pickled ginger, wasabi

We have eaten all sorts of food from Europe to Asia to America — but what we ate at The Cider Press Cafe was without a doubt one of our top five meals. Ever.

Eating is a such a visual experience as well as a journey of taste. And both of these senses will be taken to new heights as well as completely turned on upside down and inside out when you dine at The Cider Press Cafe.

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Pineapple Kimchi Dumplings with Mango Habañero Sauce

I could barely wrap my head around the combinations of flavors and the fact that what I was seeing looked like traditional foods — but had nothing to do with traditional meals at all!

Think about your basic California roll. Ingredients like tuna, crab and roe become forbidden. But what if you took a piece of watermelon, manipulated its molecules and created a roll out of that. How would it taste? From my experience, I’ll just call it amazing.

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Mock Tuna – mock tuna [almond & sunflower], lettuce. tomato, kale chips, amazing pickles

How do you accomplish a “normal” meal of a tuna salad sandwich without dairy products, grains or meat of any kind? Or key lime pie?

I’m still not sure myself — or how Chef Johan comes up with these ideas of using nuts to make a pie crust or watermelon instead of tuna in sushi. But if you want to experience amazing molecular gastronomy with an immense amount of flavor, texture and beautiful presentation, you’re just going to have to visit The Cider Press Cafe.

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Key Lime Pie — without a shred of cream or gluten

When you go to The Cider Press Cafe, go with an open mind and an empty stomach — there’s no way you will be disappointed!

And don’t forget to tell them Foodie Naples sent you!!

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