Monday, May 07, 2007

Cafe Gratitude: Joining The Grateful Fed

With two cafes in San Francisco, one in Berkeley, and with their newest location in San Rafael, Café Gratitude has gained a much-deserved reputation in the alternative culinary community for its inspiring environment and distinctive, flavorful organic foods.
To find out what Café Gratitude is all about, all you need to do is check out their mission statement:
“Cafe Gratitude is our expression of a World of Plenty. Our food and people are a celebration of our aliveness. We select the finest organic ingredients to honor the earth and ourselves, as we are one and the same. We support local farmers, sustainable agriculture and environmentally friendly products. Our food is prepared with love. We invite you to step inside and enjoy being someone who chooses; loving your life, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful everyday, and experiencing being provided for. Have fun and enjoy nourishing yourself.”
This amazing place is not just about putting food and drink into your stomach and then paying the bill. It’s about the entire experience – nourishing the heart, mind and soul. They want you to leave there feeling better about every aspect of your life.
I must admit that I was skeptical when I went to Café Gratitude. I am a steak and chops kind of guy. But, I was really surprised when I found myself really liking it.
When you walk through the door, this sign greets you:
Welcome to Cafe Gratitude serving all organic, vegan and mostly live foods! Come play the Abounding River Game and experience an unfamiliar view of BEING ABUNDANCE!
Café Gratitude does not serve anything with a face, or anything that comes from something with a face. This includes eggs, honey, milk or cheese. It also serves live food, which means nothing is nuked or charred there. Most of the food is cold, room temperature or slightly undercooked to keep the cells within the food alive.
When I went to the Haight-Ashbury location yesterday for lunch, I was expecting a bunch of hippies chanting mantras and smelling of patchouli oil. Not even close. Café Gratitude is a great place, with wonderful food, a relaxed, totally laid back attitude and people who will make you feel at home almost immediately. We were only there for about two hours, but when we left, you would have thought we’d known each other all our lives. If felt the same pangs of guilt I feel when I leave a rocking party early. I really didn’t want to go!
One of the coolest things about the place is the way you order your food. Every item on the menu is an affirmation. For instance, the almond milk is called “I am Youthful.” When you order it by name, the wait staff replies, “You are Youthful.” At first, it seemed kind of strange, but after awhile I got into it. When the food came promptly, I was happy, because “I was Hungry.”
The menu at Café Gratitude is extensive, featuring a wide range of over 100 items, including soups, salads, appetizers, smoothies, teas, fresh juices, elixirs, shakes, organic sparkling and white wines, beer, sake and cider, organic coffee, organic ice cream, live pizzas and assorted desserts.
Some of the things we tried at Café Gratitude were:
The “I am Warm” Soup: A Faux Pho miso soup. This is a warm miso with spiralized vegetable noodles, shiitake mushrooms, scallions and sprouts in a big bowl ($9.00).
The “I am Thankful” Soup: This is Thai coconut curry soup with avocado, tomato, cucumbers and shiitake mushrooms ($7.00).
The “I am Fabulous” Live Pizza: A living, breathing pizza with lasagna-zucchini noodles layered with cashew ricotta cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil, pesto and marinara sauce ($12).
The “I am Festive” Taco Salad. A flavorful salad with shredded romaine lettuce tossed in a creamy dressing topped with crumbled walnut-seed taco filling, guacamole, salsa, nacho cheese and green sprouts topped with flax seeds ($12.00).
To complete the experience, we had the “I am Praising” dessert – a dish of Café Gratitude’s vanilla soft serve ice cream. It was less heavy than your standard ice cream, because, of course, it contained no dairy.
On the way out we picked up a copy of I Am Grateful, a book written by Café Gratitude’s co-founders Terces and Matthew Engelhart. It presents their view of life and their business philosophy. In the book, Terces also relates her own story of personal healing, sharing highlights of her recovery from food addiction while explaining the benefits of an organic lifestyle. The book’s incredible full-color photographs accompany easy-to-follow recipes for the café’s most popular items, making it easy for readers to prepare live foods at home.
Recipes include café favorites for satisfying smoothies such as the "I am Luscious" raw chocolate variety, as well as juices, soups, and appetizers. There's also entrancing entrees like the "I am Elated" spicy rolled enchiladas and delicious desserts including the "I am Amazing" lemon meringue pie with macadamia nut crust.
Café Gratitude has four locations. To find the one nearest you, visit their Web site at: It’s an experience that will leave you feeling healthy, happy and qualify you as a member of the Grateful Fed.

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