It's Only Natural

Middletown Area, Connecticut

3.8 / 14 votes

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Nuvo-Natural Vegan Cuisine

ION is a casual but hip vegetarian eatery in Middletown, Connecticut. It has been voted "Best Vegetarian Restaurant" in the local Advocate Reader's Poll for many years.

The waitstaff is professional and attentive--and often are dressed in theme for the night (a recent Saturday appeared to be pajama night). The menu features a wide selection of multi-ethnic dishes. They are well known for their tempeh "crab" cakes and the infamous sweet potato fries (served with a smoked ketchup).

Decorations include local artists and pretty much everything not bolted down can be purchased. Brazilian music rounds out the atmosphere.

Added by Joshua Warchol on Apr 16 04 (last updated Aug 15 15)

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Opened in 1987, ION is an enduring classic, a true survivor, and a beacon of vegan cuisine during most of its three decades long legacy. As a faithful patron since 1988, I have observed ION undergo many transformations.

It evolved into ION 8.0 in September 2013 when it relocated a few blocks north up Main Street, eerily close to its original location from which it had moved 15 years earlier. ION downsized both its menu and its space. I’m thankful that ION adapted, but lament the loss of most of my favorite dishes. The new space is cozy and sunny. The new plush seats are really comfy, almost like living room sofas, a welcomed upgrade from the narrow rickety wooden chairs of that of many other veg restaurants.

One very heartening change which I hail is its decision soon after its move to dump cow cheese as one of its three cheese options, which it had offered for ten years. So now ION 8.5 has reclaimed its legacy as a truly vegan restaurant.

Early in 2014, it incarnated into ION 9.0 when the menu changed to fit the specialties of its new chef, rather than the new chef adapting to the specialties of the restaurant. ION rewrote a new and slimmer menu, yet again. Some savory entrées and apps added just a year earlier were edged out. Only the wine and beer list had lengthened, of no interest to me. The newly truncated menu tended toward spicy Tex-Mex, unfortunately for me not among my favorite ethnic cuisines. Its once high nutritional standards had descended a few notches. Many of the dishes were pan-fried or deep-fried, highly refined tofu and overly processed seitan had edged out more wholesome tempeh. There was not much choice outside of fried foods and Tex-Mex and tofu and seitan.

In 2016, ION changed yet again and ascended into a divine ION 10.0, this latest incarnation now full-circle upon the part-time return of masterful head chef Ken Bergeron. Oldsters such as myself will remember Ken as the founder of ION when it debuted in 1987. Ken has migrated the menu out of Texas and Mexico and into Europe and Asia and back into New England.

If you were disappointed with ION in the recent past, do give it another try, because ION has reclaimed its legacy as a stellar vegan restaurant.


rating star

One of the best vegetarian restaurants in southern New England and the menu is mostly vegan.

I've been coming here off and on for several years.
The food quality and presentation is excellent.

Service is usually very good. I will say that sometimes it seems to be slow, even when the place is not particularly busy. The waiters and waitresses are more than willing to explain items on the menu to you with exquisite detail.

As far as the food goes, I know this is a higher-end place, but I feel like the portions are small, especially given the menu prices. I will say that my friend ordered the Shepard's Pie this past weekend and the plate was full of food.

The only other "complaint" I would have is the desserts.
Most of them are good. The red velvet cake was fantastic.
I was highly disappointed with the Peanut Butter Cup. I was joking to my friends that it would actually come in a peanut butter cup. It did, but the chocolate/peanut butter mixture was very dry and the portion size was tiny for such a price!
Another friend ordered the Chocolate Hazelnut Cake and I was expecting something totally different...again, kind of dry and bland.

All in all, this is a great place to go. It's especially good if you're going out on a date or want to bring some friends to a classy place. The food is really good and it's clear that they put a lot of time and effort into every dish.
Do keep in mind that it's probably going to cost you $50+ for a modest dinner for two...

Q

P.S. The Southern Fried Tofu appetizer is simply amazing! And so are the sweet potato fries!

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Neighborhood

Downtown

Directions

Just off of Rt. 9 exit 15. Turn right (north) on Main St, on the right side, 3 blocks up, at the intersection of Liberty St

Non-Smoking

Wheelchair Accessible

Prices

$$$ - expensive

Payment

  • American Express Discover MasterCard Visa

Cuisines

  • Eclectic (Fusion)

Features

  • (Mostly) Organic
  • Kid-Friendly
  • Large Group-Friendly
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Romantic

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main image for It's Only Natural Excellent VEGAN Food! It's Only Natural (ION)

Hours

7am - 9pm
11am - 5pm

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