FOOD SCOOPS: CAFE GRATITUDE
There’s something incredibly novel about Café Gratitude, it almost feels like a McDonald’s for vegans in the most ironic of ways.
Maybe it’s the bright, sunny interior of its newest Rose Ave incarnation, its walls plastered with feel good words and sayings that make even the most devoted meat eater feel good about being there. Or perhaps it’s the way each item on the menu has its own ‘I am …’ name, leading you down a garden path of spiritual fulfillment. Today are you “fantastic” or “adventurous” and then does the name of said dish correlate with your hunger?
With four locations across the Bay Area and LA, Café Gratitude is a true family affair. It arrived in LA in 2011, when brothers Cary Mosier and Ryland Engelhart decided to expand the concept their parents founded in San Francisco years ago.
The first Larchmont restaurant was an instant success among LA’s health conscious foodies and curious carnivores alike and as interest around the mid-city locale spread, so too did the brother’s desire to bring gratitude to the coast. Last July, Café Gratitude headed to the beach and took to the social fabric of Venice like a duck to water.
As Abbot Kinney continues to spill onto Rose, Café Gratitude has found itself in the epicenter, surrounded by some of Venice’s most exciting new restaurants. Housed in fresh red brick, an always-filled outdoor patio buzzes with locals lounging on cane chairs atop a brilliant mosaic tiled floor. Inside, clean lines are drawn by the white communal tables and booths that fill the restaurant; a coastal sensibility is very much felt as driftwood is used throughout while natural light floods the space and each table is topped with bright green succulents.
First to the table is the “I AM STRONG” protein smoothie of Maca malt, bananas, hempseeds, chia, dates, vanilla and coconut milk and the “I AM HEALTHY” cold-pressed juice of Kale, celery, cucumber and lemon juice. The former is incredibly creamy with the deceptive sweetness of dessert while the latter is fresh and cool and earthy, loved by your body for sure.
If you are feeling “VIVACIOUS” then order the live marinated kale chips with your choice of vegan dipping sauces like the hempseed ranch.
After the appetizers, the menu is divided into raw and cooked specialties, each drawing from an international influence combining simple, organic ingredients and delivered in the most sophisticated and affectionate of ways. Grains and beans lay the foundation for land and sea vegetables in varying forms, sometimes topped with seeds and sprouts and always with your choice of sauce and an array of vegan cheeses.
The stand out dish on the menu is the “I AM GRATEFUL” bowl, described as a “community-supported grain bowl” of shredded kale with quinoa and black beans and garlic-tahini sauce and it’s by donation. It is the ultimate way that Café Gratitude can communicate its convictions to its customers and the community. Designed as a way for patrons to truly show their gratitude, the minimum donation for the bowl is $3; suggested value is $7, while a very reasonable $14 will feed yourself and someone else.
Dessert is good for your body in all the ways you had ever hoped it would be, free from gluten, dairy and refined sugars yet full of flavor and vibrancy. Classics like the lemon meringue pie and cheesecake are reinvented as the “I AM AMAZING” and the “I AM CHERISHED” and knowing that each is guilt-free, we’ll take both.
But the Café Gratitude journey doesn’t end there.
A small grocery area is filled with health foods and goodies from local vendors and the café itself. There’s a complete cleanse you can partake in and ongoing workshops and events designed to continually educate the community and promote health and well-being for both the individual and the planet.