After exploring Barnsdall Art Park with my family one Sunday afternoon, my college-aged daughter insisted we have an early dinner at Cafe Gratitude in Larchmont Village, a 100 percent plant-based restaurant. My husband, my father and our younger daughter resisted her suggestion.
I knew she and I would find a multitude of items on the menu that we would enjoy, but my husband is a surf and turf type of guy. My 83-year-old father loves Salisbury steak with onions and mushrooms, and my younger daughter enjoys a good hamburger. Somehow, my persuasive, older daughter won.
Cafe Gratitude offers a sleek interior with a sweeping counter and colorful decor. We sat at a communal table that was lively and casual. Festive lights decorate the outdoor patio.
Our server explained the unique “I AM …” menu.
“Each dish is named after affirmations to inspire you to love yourself, accept the world, and be full of gratitude.” Instead of asking for lasagna, you say, I’ll have “Fabulous” and your server repeats back to you “you are fabulous,” as she writes down the order.
Before our server left to greet another patron, she presented us with the Question of the Day, “What brings you hope?” It’s a positive conversation starter for families and friends dining together and it inspires people to put away the electronics and talk to one another.
Café Gratitude supports organic and biodynamic wine and beer makers practicing responsible farming. I ordered a glass of Talbott Kali Hart chardonnay from Carmel Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands. Its tropical fruit notes offered flavors of apple, pineapple and honeydew melon. It’s a delicious wine to pair with appetizers, fruit, nuts and salads. I enjoyed it with the I AM…HAPPY, a Mediterranean raw wrap. The wraps are whole wheat and can be substituted with a gluten-free sundried tomato wrap or a gluten-free amaranth and millet bun for a sandwich. Amaranth is a grain packed with iron and calcium, and its fiber content is triple that of wheat. Add roasted garnet yams for side salad or the wild rice summer bean salad for an additional small fee.
Our 10-year-old daughter enjoyed a peach smoothie made with almond milk, vanilla bean and dates.
We encouraged her to order the I AM….MAGICAL double cheeseburger made with two housemade black bean patties, grilled gluten-free amaranth and millet bun, shredded romaine, tomato, pickles, red onion, spicy cashew thousand island, chipotle ketchup, topped with cashew macadamia cheddar. Instead, she wanted to try the I AM….EXTRAORDINARY sandwich. It’s touted as a BLT made with coconut bacon and layered with lettuce and tomato. Halfway through her sandwich, she declared that she could eat this every day.
My father’s interest piqued when he read the description of the Mucho Mexican bowl. It arrived with black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, nopales (cactus). It’s topped with salsa verde, cashew nacho cheese, spicy pepitas, romaine and sprouted probiotic brown rice. I’m not sure he knew he was eating cactus, but he really liked the textures and variety of interesting flavors.
My husband decided on the I AM….AWESOME, an eggplant parmesan panini. It was made with herb-cornmeal crusted eggplant topped with marinara sauce, cashew ricotta, tomatoes, brazil nut parmesan, arugula and basil on a grilled gluten-free amaranth and millet bun and served with a side of mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette. He enjoyed it with an organic Sam Smith Lager that offered a balance between hops and malt.
My older daughter dug into her I AM….GRATEFUL community bowl. It had layers of shredded kale, black beans, garlic tahini sauce, and a choice of sprouted probiotic brown rice or quinoa. Everything on the menu is made in-house. The prep chefs come in from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. to make the nut based cheese, sundried tomato wraps, chipotle cashew aioli and amazing coconut bacon. When they leave, other chefs come in to open the cafe to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The founders of Cafe Gratitude, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, hired Executive Chef Dreux Ellis to create the menu. Before working at Cafe Gratitude, Ellis cooked in Italy and was a founding chef at the first vegetarian restaurant in Venice, Italy.
The dessert menu offers a unique variety of sweets affectionately named Adoring for the tiramisu, Awakening for a Key lime pie made with a creamy avocado and lime custard, coconut meringue, and pecan macadamia date crust, and LOVELY – a baked gluten-free cobbler served with a scoop of housemade coconut cashew milk ice cream. We selected the cobbler and requested five spoons. It was a lovely ending to a wonderful meal.
If you haven’t experienced vegan cuisine, Cafe Gratitude is one of the best spots to have your first plant-based meal. Not only is the food delicious, the positive staff makes sure you walk away feeling good about yourself. $$ Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. 639 N. Larchmont Blvd. (323)580-6383.
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Wonderful article! Go Cafe Gratitude! It’s my favorite!