The Place: Clovermint Vegan Café & Market
Clovermint is in an unnamed plaza with an Express gas station and curbside American and Cuban flags. The spacious and charming room where bell-shaped stained glass lights hang overhead is filled with knickknacks like a cuckoo clock with cat statues inside, a collection of hand-held eggbeaters hung above the wine cooler, and a wall hung with pictures of owls, rabbits, deer and bird nests. Swinging doors open to the market with a faux pressed tin ceiling and mirrors in ornate frames with fridge cases filled with salad dressings and vegan cheeses and butter. Shelves hold packets of hemp protein smoothie powder, organic apple chips and Earth Balance popcorn.
Owner Ann Knacknouk, from Caldwell, New Jersey, had an Italian-Lebanese father and Irish mother who taught her about animal rights while her dad cooked. The name is from the owners’ dual Irish and Lebanese heritages (clover shamrocks and spearmint). The family moved to Cooper City when she was 8, and she went to the University of Florida, where she studied anthropology of religion, learning how religion played a role in civil rights and women’s rights. She is a lifelong vegetarian, and after a serious car accident at 18, struggling with health issues, she went to a holistic health center and became vegan, felt better and started cooking vegan — opening Clovermint a year and a half ago. She met fiancé Shane Vogel at Whole Foods, and he became the beverage director.
This is comfort vegan food anyone can like with creative food engineering; for example, the gravy on the mashed potatoes is made from a blend of caramelized onions thickened with potato and seasoned with white pepper and bay leaf. The gluten free bread and pizza dough is made from a mix of brown rice, sorghum and garbanzo bean flours. Start with avocado fries crusted in coconut and ground almonds flash-fried in coconut oil, served with garlic aioli made with vegan mayo. Or get the organic onion fritters battered in gluten free flour, light and crispy, with aioli. Queso is “cheddar” dip made out of a blend of potatoes and carrots blended with spicy seasonings that come with blue corn chips and roasted baby sweet peppers. Tempeh has a chewy texture and nutty flavor and is marinated and crumbled for the BBQ pepper pizza with slices of vegan mozzarella and is also used in the tempeh sandwich with sweet southern-style BBQ sauce. Or get the Buffalo cauliflower on avocado toast with cauliflower florets baked in creamy cashew sauce with the option of hot sauce. There’s also a tuna melt made with “tuna” made from raw soaked and ground sunflower seeds with vegan cheese. Indulge in a slice of vegan rich moist chocolate cake with soy whipped cream to finish.