You thought I forgot about you? No way! I am so stoked for post-pandemic dining, and last night my gal pals and I decided to test the town.
We headed to Churchkey, as we have only ever heard good things. I’ve been to Churchkey for comedy events on their back patio, but never exclusively for dining. Their patio is a breezy walled-in dining area with its own bar and loudly decorated. The indoor interior is classic gastro-pub style with subway tile lining the bar tap, industrial lighting with Edison bulbs, wood tabletops, and colored chairs for unexpected flair.
With dining finally opening up at 100% capacity in California, I wasn’t anticipating necessarily fast or outstanding customer service quite yet, but Churchkey knocked it out of the park. The staff was friendly, attentive, and the food was served promptly. While the full original menu may not yet be available, there are still a various number of vegan items on the menu or modifications that can be made to suit a plant-based diet.
Cauliflower shines as the major vegan player on their menu, and is present in apps and entrees alike. We all started with different flavored Cauliflower Bites. Churchkey offers various dry and wet flavored cauliflower bites as a substitute for their wings. I chose the most traditional and opted for Garlic Buffalo. A classic buffalo sauce is tamed by roasted garlic, which makes this appetizer suitable for even my sissy palate. We shared the Lemon Pepper and the Coconut Curry Cauliflower Bites, and the curry bites were favored. The coconut curry cauliflower bites have more of a warm/medium spice than “hot” and were the most unique. The sauce is full-bodied and is elevated by the bite of sliced green onion garnish. However, I enjoyed the lemon-pepper bites enough to order a second round to eat for lunch today. Served with a grilled lemon wedge, tart lemon is mixed with salt and pepper for a balanced dry rub that compliments the perfectly crispy naked cauliflower. While vegan ranch is not available for dipping, a house-made vegan aioli can be subbed upon request.
For my entree, crisped cauliflower shapeshifted into a sandwich that may be my new favorite Modesto find. Toasted Ciabatta is layered with tangy vegan aioli, mild red pepper romesco, peppery arugula, and sliced red onion. With summer already upon us, this makes for a dish that can be served when the weather is hot. I thoroughly enjoyed this sandwich, and am excited about their serving up hot tots instead of fries on the side! I am a tot fan for sure!
Additional vegan options at Churchkey include modified versions of their bowls and salads, by omitting dairy, any included animal protein, and swapping the dressing for something vegan-friendly. There used to be a house-made vegan bean patty that could be swapped on all burgers and sandwiches but for the re-opening, it is currently unavailable. I asked about subbing vegan cheese on their pizza but unfortunately, that was not an option. I am hoping this will change in the near future, and have made the request. As always, additional kind requests are encouraged.
Do you know what a “chruchkey” actually is? Or better question, did you know that a “churchkey” is a thing? If not, a churchkey is a special key used for opening beer bottles and cans. Now, when you head to Modesto’s Churchkey, you’ll more knowledge than I. Happy dining!
Churchkey Location: 910 12th Street, Modesto, CA 95354