COURT HOUSE – True Kitchen, located across the street from the Court House library, infuses sustainable, local ingredients with reasonable prices and chef-original recipes. Amanda and EJ Ruhl, the wife-and-husband duo behind the new eatery, bring over a decade of restaurateur experience to True Kitchen – they come from the catering world and previously operated the Cold Spring Grange Restaurant. They now bring their new concept to the community in which they live.
True Kitchen’s motto – La Vida Fresca, “the fresh life,” – shines bright via a sign in the middle of the restaurant. This perspective on life influences every dish they make. “Everything is made from scratch, and nearly every ingredient is brought in fresh. We use local farms whenever we can,” Amanda said.
The couple recognized a need for a new take on dining, offering lighter healthier options in the heart of Cape May County. They serve recognizable food but with a little flare hoping to appeal to local workers and residents in the area
“We wanted our menu to stand out among the areas current offerings,” Amanda said. “We have design-your-own-salads, rice bowls, acai bowls, sliders, a smoothie bar, and all of it can be highly customized. We also wanted those with dietary restrictions (Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian) to have more options.”
EJ is a lifelong chef with a culinary arts degree from the Philadelphia Restaurant School. Amanda has a background in marketing and PR, and together they founded a successful catering company, Shore Side Catering, that has served the county for a decade, and they continue to operate simultaneously outside the restaurant
They carry that catering experience into their new venture. “It has been fun developing this concept along with our incredibly hardworking and tenured staff”,” Amanda said during a mid-afternoon interview with the Herald, just after rush hour finally relented. “We’re trying to fill a niche that is so important for many people and we’re very lucky to have our long-time staff along for the ride.”
The results speak for themselves. One of EJ’s favorite menu items is a dish he feels captured lightning in a bottle: edamame dumplings. The dumplings are filled with fresh edamame puree and truffle essence. “It’s a dish I loved the first time I tried it on my travels. I recreated it from scratch as a surprise for Amanda on our anniversary, and she loved it so much that it landed on our menu,” EJ said.
Many of the menu items were inspired by the couple’s travels – they find inspiration in cuisines all around the world. Their Poke Bowl is extremely popular and was influenced by a trip to the Hawaiian Islands.
The restaurant building itself was also a labor of love. They took over the building that housed Hugits, a well-loved establishment of over forty years. The couple knew they would need to make big changes to the interior to separate customer’s minds from what was once there. “Hugits was a staple in this area for so long and is missed by many. Our food is very different from what they served so we knew we needed to make things look different as well.” EJ gestured to the restaurant’s far wall, which imitates the look of a quaint farm’s tin roof. Bright wooden accents give the room an inviting, fresh atmosphere.
The couple worked with Katie Rementer, a local designer, to perfect the design. Katie helped the couple redesign their home after a devastating flood, and the trust developed during that vulnerable process carried over to True Kitchen. “She really helped bring our visionto life,” Amanda said.
The days are busy, and the work is hard, but through True Kitchen, Amanda and EJ are hoping to leave an impression on the community.
“We have an amazing location along with these other great establishments. Everyone has been so welcoming, and we are lucky to be among them,” said EJ.
True Kitchen and Catering is located on 7 Mechanic Street, just across from the Court House library. They are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
True Kitchen and Catering
7 Mechanic Street, Court House
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