This morning, I woke up feeling virtuous. I took the dogs for a walk before any coffee, made myself a breakfast of oatmeal, almonds, cranberries, kefir and maple syrup, dutifully worked out and got my writing done early, without waiting for the stars to align or the right circumstances to coalesce.
On such a virtuous streak, I couldn’t really ruin the day by having brie on toast for lunch so I headed to Larchmont for an extremely virtuous repast at Cafe Gratitude. The original outpost can be found in Berkeley and, here in LA, it joins the more or less established vegan and raw places that made a splash when they first opened: Real Food Daily, M Cafe, Juliano’s. But, as the name implies, Cafe Gratitude would like to take our virtuosity a notch further, by making us recognize over breakfast, lunch or dinner all our blessings and anything else we might (or should) be grateful for.
The food is served on dishes that ass “What are you grateful for?” In my case, that my server eventually came back after 15 minutes of my asking a question.
The menu is divided into Starters, Raw, Cooked and Sides and a long list of interesting drinks. Each item is named along the lines of “I am liberated”, “I am fantastic”, “I am peaceful”, you get the gist – hence, when you place your order, you are forced to make such pronouncements. It feels a bit silly but hey, I will go with the flow. Pity the poor runner, though, who, when dropping the food at the table will ask who ordered “I am blissful” and will then set the dish down by saying “You are blissful”. I really don’t think he gives a crap who or what I am but I appreciate the sentiment.
The space is bright, tastefully decorated, with seats available also at the counter and on an outside patio. The creative, the trendy and the beautiful occupy most of the space. Service seemed to be swift for everybody but me as woozy waitress was thrown into a fit of forgetfulness at having to research an ingredient. No matter.
Let’s get to the food. My friend and I ordered “I am present” and “I am extraordinary”, the first a bruschetta of rosemary butternut squash and cashew mozzarella and the latter a BLT made with chipotle coconut, avocado and cashew aioli. If the idea of a cashew mozzarella makes your stomach turn, I can vouch that the first few bites are actually fairly pleasant but I needed to stop quickly as it gets a bit sickening – the rest of the bruschetta, though, drizzled with a balsamic reduction, was pretty delicious. The coconut BLT, on a lovely and soft roll, was good. The combination of coconut and chipotle works well, although, by the last bite, my mouth was on fire.
The ginger drink (I am effervescent) might not have been the best choice to quash the flames on my tongue but, if you do like ginger, it’s a potent drink. The dessert menu is extensive but most choices were not available. My coconut cream pie (I am irresistible) was a bit runny but as good as a vegan dessert will ever be while “I am a super dark chocolate nugget” was dry and oh so virtuous it’s not worth the calories.
The breakfast menu looks intriguing and if I ever feel like crossing town early one morning, I might be willing to try. If you feel only a bit virtuous, Cafe Gratitude does have a wine and beer license.