Soul Kitchen

I had dinner last night at Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen, in Red Bank NJ. This is the place where people who don’t have the money to eat in a real restaurant can work in exchange for a meal, even for their whole family.

I have to say, I was bowled over by the place. First of all, it’s very attractive. As Bon Jovi points out, this is not a soup kitchen. You eat at a table set with real dinnerware and cloth napkins. Everyone who works there is so warm and lovely; you literally can’t tell the difference between the donors and the guests. And the food was fabulous. (They grow their own greens and herbs in an organic garden out in front of the former gas station.)

We were seated at a table with two retired couples from northern NJ, and they liked the food as much as we did. I had a perfectly done pork chop in apricot sauce with roasted vegetables; my friend had a catfish po’ boy sandwich. The other people raved about their vegetable Napoleon, sandwiched with slices of eggplant.

The volunteers were great. Our waitress works three shifts a month, she told us. (She said she’d work four, but her day job schedule won’t let her.) A volunteer musician sat in a corner and played alto sax; the guy was so good, I thought I was listening to the radio – until I finally saw him.

What a great experience. I’m still smiling.