A Fresh Dille

lots of gratitude.

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on March 2, 2011

I’ve been eagerly waiting for the LA outpost of the famous San Francisco restaurant, Cafe Gratitude, to open and today was the day. It happened that my good friend, and fellow vegetarian, wanted to meet for lunch so it wasn’t too hard to convince her to go to the place with the menu I’ve been dreaming about.

Before, we get to the delectable meal, I want to share with you something I’ve been missing lately.


For a few weeks, I’ve been thinking of getting some more pumpkin into my life before the winter season officially ends (even though it’s around 50-65 out in LA). After picking up a can of organic pumpkin, I knew I’d be making a full bowl of warm steel-cut oats to satisfy the craving. The usual mix of steel-cut oats, banana, coconut milk, chia seeds, cinnamon, and vanilla were cooked for 25 minutes on the stove top before adding 1/4 cup of pumpkin for the last few minutes. Although steel-cut oats have a recommended cook time of 20 minutes, I tend to cook them longer because I use more liquid than stated on the package, one cup of water and 1/4 cup of nut milk. The more voluminous the better. Raisins were added, as they are always a great compliment of pumpkin, but I couldn’t keep off some of our fresh berries so blueberries were thrown on there too. Oh, and nut butter…can’t forget that. Trader Joe’s organic creamy almond butter is the current addiction of choice. These kept me full until I sat down at the Cafe Gratitude table and was reminded of all the delectable choices. If you want to see some interior exterior shots, check out Lynn’s post on being the first customer.

Being a vegan, with what most of my family and friends refers to as a “restricted diet,” means that I am constantly navigating restaurant  menus for the most vegan friendly or adaptable item. Automatically, I am thrilled to find a restaurant with a menu full of all vegan fare, but still, I can become overwhelmed with numerous options. This was no exception.

My sister and I waited for my friend while going over the menu and watching the environment around us. We both commented later about how nice everyone was in the restaurant. Not only were the servers wonderful, but the other restaurant-goer’s were moving around tables a lot and talking to others they didn’t seem to know. Maybe it was the excitement and enthusiasm over the organic, local, and vegan food free of common allergens like soy, wheat, and peanuts. I too was beyond excited for my meal to arrive at the table.

This was the first vegan restaurant I’ve been to without tofu or tempeh, and was intrigued by my sisters order, the “I am Extraordinary” BLT sandwich with sautéed maple coconut, romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, and avocado with chipotle aioli on panini bread. Usually, vegan BLT’s use some type of smoky tempeh to make up for the bacon, but the this one differed, using maple coconut (Lynn ordered the same sandwich and showed the interior) instead. I tried a bite and think the Chipotle Aioli made it the stunning sandwich it was.

My friend’s food went unpictured, since I was too hungry for mine once they all were brought to the table. However, she raved about her special soup, the cold Thai coconut. Of course I had a taste, and loved it so. To go with her soup, she had the “I am Dazzling” Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, avocado, brazil nut parmesan and capers with Caesar dressing. She texted me about 4 hours later saying she was still full. I am too. This is why:

I knew that I’d be back to Cafe Gratitude many times before the food even arrived, so I went with something comforting, knowing that I can taste my way around the menu in the future. My entrée came from the Cooked side of the menu (the Raw dishes sound truly amazing as well), it was the “I am TRUSTING,” a handmade corn tamal made with stoneground heirloom masa and butternut squash served with salsa verde (TOO GOOD!), black beans, and chipotle cole slaw.

The butternut squash and masa mixture was everything I hoped for. The whole plate got eaten so fast, my sister later commented that she wanted to taste it, but I seemed to into my meal to let her steal a bite. What can I say, it was bliss.

The real star was this heavenly dessert. It may also be the reason we are still full six hours later. The dessert menu wasn’t shown, but stated by the server. Here is one I found online with a few items that were listed. Generally, I am an all chocolate dessert girl, but since there were other things that sounded just as appealing, I chose a Chocolate Caramel “Cheesecake.” It was one of the “I am Cherished” cashew cream cheesecakes with a crunchy nut crust. The filling was like no other vegan cheesecake I’ve tasted. I will be sure going back for other play off’s of this dessert and to sample all of the others.

Now, check out the menu, and help me choose what I should order next time. I am already planning a return visit next week. Even better, if you live in the LA area, go there. I promise you won’t be disappointed.


11 Responses

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  1. VeggieGirl said, on March 2, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I like the sound of the “I Am Fortified” dish 🙂

  2. actorsdiet said, on March 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    god i want that dessert. i know where we’ll be meeting up again next!

  3. megan @ the oatmeal diaries said, on March 2, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    This is so funny, I went to Cafe Gratitude in December and got the tamales as well! SO GOOD! The food there blew my mind. And I need pumpkin back in my life stat!

  4. Evan Thomas said, on March 3, 2011 at 5:52 am

    That cheesecake has me drooling. Would it be too much to fly cross country for a restaurant experience?

  5. Lauren said, on March 3, 2011 at 7:07 am

    So jealous, I would love to go there! I’ll just have to enjoy through their cookbooks for now! 🙂

  6. Anthony said, on March 3, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Oh I want all of the dishes!!! All of them look so damn good and delicious! I want to have a cafe like that around me. You can actually make your own vegetarian food at home, check out some of the vegetarian recipes:
    Hope you find some recipes that interest you.

  7. Michelle | gold-hearted girl said, on March 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I am definitely adding this to my list of restaurants to try. And about vegans and vegetarians having a “restricted diet” – so not true! I will back you up on that one. 🙂 I’ve found so many new foods through being vegetarian, and I honestly feel more nourished than ever.

  8. Ellie said, on March 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Hiiii! Omgshh so cool you’re from LA! I’m in OC. This place loooks awesome and i’m excited that you mentioned it~ 😀 I’ll DEFINITELY try it. And have you been to Urth Caffe? This is like, one of my fave places. Their spanish latte is to die for. 🙂

  9. Trudy ~ veggie num num said, on March 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I’m in awe… I can’t believe how beautiful and delicious everything looks!! Um, ‘corn tamal made with stoneground heirloom masa and butternut squash served with salsa verde’ are you kidding, so so good. Again, wish we had even one vegan restaurant as remotely amazing (I would settle just for a vegan restaurant) nearby. Thanks for sharing!!

  10. hello 25. « A Fresh Dille said, on March 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    […] V of his childhood, and he seemed very pleased with his meal as he finished every last bite. Since my last visit to Cafe Gratitude, I have been desiring another one of their amazing desserts. Always one to order a chocolate based […]

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