Air travel is pretty terrible in general, but for vegetarians, it’s even worse. With pre-flight airport grab-and-go meals largely consisting of turkey sandwiches, chicken salads, and some questionable roast beef, dinner often ends up being peanuts on the plane. Luckily, things just got a little bit better for veg-forward travelers -- at least, those flying out of Newark.
Amanda Cohen, the chef-owner of NYC’s Dirt Candy, one of the city’s first restaurants to introduce vegetarian-focused cuisine in a fine-dining setting, has opened a vegetarian restaurant in Newark Liberty International Airport’s Terminal C, called Thyme, which she’s hoping will revolutionize the traveling experience for vegetarians and anyone looking for a healthy, high-quality meal while waiting for their flight. Thyme joins other new restaurants from big-name chefs in Newark’s United Terminal like The Daily, as United and restaurant group OTG have invested $120 million to revamp the dining experience for travelers.
The all-vegetarian restaurant offers dishes like pan-roasted Brussels sprouts and sunchoke ratatouille.
“I can report that up until now, I’ve had nothing vegetarian in airports,” Cohen tells Thrillist. “I think this is really going to change the way people feel about flying. At airports, it seems like you would want to continue how you’re supposed to eat in your normal life. It should seem like you are just going on with your day. And this is one way to do that, if you’re a vegetarian.”
When working on developing the menu for Thyme, Cohen and her chefs took inspiration from Dirt Candy’s menu while also creating original organic recipes with market-fresh produce. One of Cohen’s favorite menu items is the ancho mushroom tacos.
“This food is head and shoulders above anything I’ve had in any other airports,” Cohen says about the first time she test-tasted the new recipes. “Here I was, this chef from New York City, going to New Jersey to eat some food, and I wasn’t prepared for how good the food was.”
The quality of the food can be attributed to the freshness of the ingredients, says Eric Brinker, OTG's VP of Experience and Marketing, explaining that produce is transported in daily from local markets. So the next time you’re passing through security at Newark, you might see some Swiss chard and broccoli in the line next to you.
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Vegetarian flyers coming through Newark Airport are given new hope for their commutes by Chef Amanda Cohen's Thyme, which specializes in meat-free fare in a setting a bit more elevated than your typical airport food court. Dishes like sunchoke ratatouille and pan-roasted Brussels sprouts are ordered off of iPads (where you can also get flight information) in a sleek space with exposed brick and red banquettes. After making a name for herself in the kitchen at Dirt Candy in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and now opening this airport eatery, the sky's the limit for Cohen, it seems.