Thursday, March 20, 2014

Feeling the (Cafe) Gratitude in Santa Cruz

I'm on a short visit to San Jose, CA, where I grew up. No trip back home is complete without a day (or more) in Santa Cruz, where I spent a lot of time as a kid. Honestly, I don't know why I've never just moved to Santa Cruz, or somewhere in the general area. I absolutely love it there. And after my trip "over the hill" the other day with my darling niece, Kelsey, I love it even more.

We spent some time on the beach of course, on a perfect almost-spring day that had us dipping our toes in the surf and wishing the roller coaster was open for the season.

But we were also on a mission. We were there to have lunch at the famously fabulous Cafe Gratitude, once located in San Francisco, and now operating in a relaxed and lovely spot in Santa Cruz, as well as three other locations. We found free 3-hour parking in the lot across the street, and then were greeted with a smile and menus at the restaurant, and asked to sit wherever we liked. We settled in, but then decided to move closer to the window after a few minutes, and nobody minded a bit. Going over the menu took some time. I'm not used to being able to choose from everything on a menu. What a treat. All vegan, some raw, and all enticing. I finally asked our server what he would suggest. He gave it great consideration, and finally came to the "I Am Whole" bowl because it's something repeat customers order often, and because it's really pretty, which I requested.

Everything on the menu starts with "I Am..." followed by words like Thriving, Vibrant, Transformed, and so on. Instead of asking us what we wanted to eat, the server actually asked what we would like to be. "Whole" suited me, and Kelsey ordered the "I Am Extraordinary," a maple coconut-bacon BLT with avocado. We also had "I Am Effervescent" ginger-lemon-sparkly drinks, which made us both smile as we savored each sip.

The food was perfect. Fresh, beautifully prepared and presented, and bursting with flavor and energy. My bowl, which had brown rice and millet, kale, kimchee, carrots, sunflower sprouts, sea vegetables, teriyaki almonds with garlic-tahini sauce was so good (and so big) Kelsey kept dipping across the table to help me with it. I'm a bowl girl, and this one was pure delight.

I had a couple of bites of Kelsey's sandwich too, and it was another winner. That coconut-bacon... oh wow! I really need the recipe.

And then there was dessert, which we really didn't need, but certainly wanted. We were on a mission after all. So we went for the lemon pie as well as the chocolate chai cheesecake with house-made ice cream. After one bite I just wanted to take it all in a corner and be alone with it. Sweet Heaven on a plate.

Thank you Cafe Gratitude. I Am Grateful for your very existence. And as we walked back out into the Santa Cruz sunshine, I looked at Kelsey and said, I Am Happy.


Jean said...

Oh my gosh how DIVINE!

GREAT ENTRY!!! xoxoxoxox! jean

Janz -ddA said...

Woahhh! That sounds like an amazing restaurant to try.