It may seem a stretch to take a chef who trained at a New York vegan culinary school and stick her in the kitchen of a diner that focuses on comfort food. But Chef Robin Gill Lacy, who came to the Cliff Cafe from Whole Foods, took over last September and has been slowly but surely making the place her own since then.

Her training means that the menu now has plenty of vegeterian options, Lacy says, but ample meat dishes remain. For example, the BLT comes with the customer’s choice of pork, turkey or tempeh bacon. And no bacon fat is used to make the gravy — though you wouldn’t know it by the way it tastes, Lacy points out.

More on the food, after the jump:

I was told that the black bean burger is one of the tastiest items on the menu, whether you’re a vegeterian or not. So I tried it, and was pleasantly surprised to find a thick, tasty patty. I chose to top it with granny smith apples and brie cheese, subtle but good, and opted for the soup of the day — a cream of corn and tomato — instead of the fries.

Another nice touch was the side of cornichons (which I later learned was the French word for gherkin) that Lacy pickles with red onion. I didn’t put these on my burger, but instead ate them out of the tiny bowl. We also ordered a couple of sides of deviled eggs as appetizers, which hit the spot. Make sure to order enough so that everyone can eat two.

I’ve not yet tried breakfast, but hear that the sweet potato pancakes are amazing. And I’m planning to try the buffalo mac and cheese the next time I’m at the Cliff Cafe for dinner.